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Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the R&D Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the R&D Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on December 28, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the Research and Development  Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 in the Research and Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 cockpit view in the Research and Development  Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 cockpit view in the Research and Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 cockpit view in the Research and Development  Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 cockpit view in the Research and Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 view in the Research and Development  Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 view in the Research and Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Restoration staff move the Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3 into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 5, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)

Bell Helicopter XV-3 taking off. (Photo courtesy of NASA)
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Bell Helicopter XV-3 taking off. (Photo courtesy of NASA)

Bell Helicopter XV-3 with the proprotors rotated forward for level flight. (Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter Textron)
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Bell Helicopter XV-3 with the proprotors rotated forward for level flight. (Photo courtesy of Bell Helicopter Textron)


The product of a 1951 joint U.S. Air Force-U.S. Army initiative, the Bell XV-3 became the world's first successful Vertical Short TakeOff and Landing (VSTOL) tilt-rotor aircraft. By combining the takeoff and hovering capabilities of a helicopter with the speed and range of a fixed-wing aircraft, the XV-3 offered great military potential.

Bell completed two XV-3s and began hover tests in 1955. The first XV-3 was damaged beyond repair, but testing continued with the second aircraft. The first complete conversion from takeoff to horizontal flight and back -- the first ever for a tilt-rotor aircraft -- took place in December 1958. 

The XV-3 did not go into production, but it paved the way for the modern tilt-rotor CV-22 Osprey. After testing ended in 1965, the surviving XV-3 went on display at Fort Rucker, Ala., and later into storage. In 2004, the XV-3 was moved to the Bell Helicopter Textron facility at Arlington, Texas, where a group of current and retired Bell engineers restored the aircraft. It arrived at the museum in 2007.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Engine:
Pratt & Whitney R-985
Maximum speed: 184 mph
Wingspan: 31 feet, 4 inches (rotor tip to rotor tip: 52 feet, 6 inches)
Length: 30 feet, 4 inches

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Find Out More
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Cockpit360 Images
View the XV-3 Pilot Station
View the XV-3 Copilot Station
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Related Fact Sheets
Pratt & Whitney R-985 Engine
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