Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Bell Helicopter Textron XV-3

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.

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