North American X-15
North American X-15 Nose Art
Dimensions: 40" x 20"
There were 3 North American X-15A's and their construction was titanium and stainless steel. They used some aluminum on the interior of the craft. The X-15A's exterior made use of Inconel-X nickel which is a type of alloy steel. The Inconel could withstand high temperatures. It was important to add a white coating of Emerson ablative material to the external fuel tanks. This material protected the X-15A' from high temperatures during supersonic speeds.
During test flights, the X-15A achieved its greatest speed of Mach 6.7!
The first North American X-15A flight was an unpowered test flight flown by Albert Scott Crossfield, on 8 June 1959.
The first powered flight was also flown by Scott Crossfield on September 17, 1959. Further testing was done with the XLR-99 rocket engine on 15 November 1960.
There was a total of twelve test pilots who flew the X-15A. Among them was Neil Armstrong one of the early pioneers of supersonic flight. Neil Armstrong would, later on, become a NASA astronaut and become the First Man to step foot on the Moon!
The X-15 supersonic test aircraft paved the way for our modern fighter jets that we have today.