Kit #AA2072. 1/72 scale. This is a highly-detailed
resin kit of four unmanned X-plane test vehicles – the
Lockheed X-7, the Aerojet
General X-8 Aerobee
, the Bell X-9
and the Lockheed X-17,
all complete with decals.
1946, the Army Air Force began development of high speed ramjet powered
missiles, and selected Lockheed to develop an unmanned testbed, designated the
X-7. The first flight took place on
1951, with the X-7 carried aloft by a
– later flights used a more powerful Boeing B-50 as the mothership. The X-7 booster propelled the craft
to 1,000 mph, after which the ramjet kicked in, taking the speed up to Mach 4.3
– more than 2,800 mph.
A total of 230
X-7 flights took place between 1951 and 1960.
The X-7 program generated useful information
applied to the
Boeing Bomarc missile
defense system and the
Lockheed D-21 high-speed
Aerojet General X-8 Aerobee: In 1945, and using both captured rockets and
captured rocket scientists, the U.S. Army began test-firing their captured V-2
rockets, exploring not only the missiles themselves, but the atmosphere at the
very edge of space.
The two-stage mixed-fuel Aerojet General X-8 Aerobee was developed to further research begun
with the V-2s.
After burning an
18,000-pound thrust booster solid rocket for 2.5 seconds, the X-8 was propelled
for another 40 seconds by a 2,600 pound thrust sustainer liquid-fueled
The X-8 was capable of lofting a
150-pound research package to altitudes of 200,000 feet, then returning to
earth by parachute.
The X-8 reached a
maximum of 138 miles altitude and a speed of Mach 6.
The first X-8 was first flown in 1947, and 1,037
Aerobees carried more than 1,000 payloads into the upper atmosphere, before
being finally retired in 1958. Follow-on Aerobees supported the Apollo moon
flight, and the last one flew in 1985.
Bell X-9 Shrike: Due to the significant losses suffered by
Allied strategic bomber force in the Second World War, and after taking note of
Nazi tests of guided surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), the Army Air Force began
development of a guided anti-aircraft missile. In 1946, Bell received Air Force
contract to develop testbed version of the missile, under the program
designation X-9. Intended as a testbed for the nuclear-armed
GAM-63 Rascal, the X-9’s first flight
was took place in 1949, with the program continuing through 1953. The Mach 2
missile with a range of 50 miles verified the basic aerodynamic configuration
of the GAM-63 missile.
Lockheed X-17: In 1954, as the military’s various IRBM and
ICBM programs got underway, the USAF and Navy needed a research vehicle to test
reentry vehicle design. In 1955, Lockheed was selected as prime contractor for
the X-17, a new 3-staged rocket vehicle.
The first solid-fuel stage carried the rocket
to an altitude of 17 miles, with enough momentum for the rocket to coast to an
altitude of 100 miles.
The test vehicle
would then nose down, while the second and third stages would give it momentum
comparable to that experienced by an ICBM warhead.
first flight was took place in 1956, and a year later, the X-17 reached a speed
of 9,000 miles per hour during re-entry – Mach 14.5. The X-17’s contributions
to reentry vehicle technology proved essential to the creation of America’s
intercontinental nuclear deterrent capabilities.