The X-13 was built to prove the concept that a jet could take off vertically, transition to horizontal flight, and return to vertical flight for landing.
Equipped with a temporary tricycle landing gear, the first of two X-13s flew conventionally in December 1955 to test its overall aerodynamic characteristics. It was then fitted with a temporary "tail sitting" rig, and in May 1956 this X-13 flew vertically to test its hovering qualities.
The second X-13 -- on display at the museum -- made history in April 1957, when it completed the first full-cycle flight at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. It took off vertically from its mobile trailer, rose into the air, nosed over into a level attitude and flew for several minutes. Then, it reversed the procedure to vertical flight and slowly descended to its trailer for a safe landing. This X-13 also made demonstration flights in the Washington, D.C., area later that year.
Even though the X-13 successfully proved the original concept, its design had limited operational potential, and a lack of funding shut down the program in 1958. The X-13 was transferred to the museum in 1959.
Engine: Rolls-Royce Avon of 10,000 lbs. thrust
Maximum speed: 350 mph
Minimum speed: 0 mph
Service ceiling: 20,000 feet
Weight: 7,200 lbs. maximum
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