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Miles M.52 and the X-1 - again!

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Miles M.52 and the X-1 - again!

Old 5th Jan 2009, 22:10
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Miles M.52 and the X-1 - again!

I've been thumbing-through the various snippets about the aborted M.52 project and I'm trying (as best I can!) to establish what the true story was - rather than the usual urban myths that get churned-out year after year.

It seems to be accepted that the British Government sanctioned the release of all the Miles data (and some hardware if you believe some reports) to Bell, but does anyone know of any factual information which relates to this information exchange? I'm surprised that more information hasn't come to light after all this time.

I'm also intrigued by the notion that the release of info was done as an exchange agreement when America supposedly failed to deliver on their part of the bargain. Clearly there must have been some good reason for Britain abandoning the M.52 project and giving the information to Bell, but I don't accept the notion that it was all done on the basis of an information exchange which wasn't completed. One has to conclude that there was much more to the story but there doesn't seem to be much evidence to indicate what the real motives behind Britain's move were.

Anybody heard anything new on this age-old story recently?
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 06:30
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From what I heard there were two sets of information provided. Before the X1was developed US experts came to look at Miles proposals on the understanding that UK experts would later visit Bell. But the visit to Bell never happened. Then after the M52 was cancelled more information was sent to Bell.

The Bell X1 was designed with provision for a flying tail, just like the M52. But this wasn't enabled until testing demonstrated the necessity. Leading to speculation they copied it from Miles without understanding why it was used.
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 11:30
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Obviously the person to ask is Test Pilot Eric 'Winkle' Brown, though he is very clear in his books and lectures he reckons the M.52 was cancelled purely for political reasons ( smarming up to the U.S. ) and large parts of the design, especially the flying tail, were indeed robbed by the Americans, who then promptly refused a reciprocal visit / info' exchange.

It also strikes me that there seems a distinct lack of German design input on the supersonic project, as both the M.52 & X-1 went with straight wings.

A bit odd on the face of it as Eric Brown was THE man who got hold of and tried all the German kit at the end of the war, including flying a live, rocket powered ME-163 ( other later, authorised flights were glide only for safety ) - and the Nazi supersonic wind tunnel was one of the things he found, though it or its' design may well have ended up in America.

Then again, judging by the DeHavilland DH108 swept wing job, which seems a jet powered approximation of the ME-163, and its' tendency to kill people as it wasn't quite right, maybe they realised they didn't have all the swept wing data...
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 11:33
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Tim, is it just coincidence you have posted this today or did you read it in this week's Flight as well?
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 11:39
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Originally Posted by 00
as both the M.52 & X-1 went with straight wings.
- I would not read too much into that. Obviously the high transonics benefit from sweepback, but my understanding is that a straight wing is a good as (if not better than) a swept once well through the transonic regime, so depending on the target Mach for both, maybe the straight wing was a better option in terms of strength etc, as with the X-15? They certainly were not planned to 'cruise' in the high subsonics.
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 11:52
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As far as I recollect, the Brits were obliged to give information to the Americans as part of repayment due to the Americans for all their input into the war effort here. Having got the flying tail info, I understand that we were then frozen out by the brothers and Miles were obliged to scrap their aircraft.
I further understand that there was a certain amount of "getting oneīs own back" when a request for information on the computer controlled variable intake doors of Concorde was made to Bristol. Allegedly, the debt was already paid by then and Bristol, quite rightly, required squillions for the info. The Americans declined to pay which is why our supersonic airliner flew for years whilst the (B1?) was never a supersonic success.
If true - great!
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 13:05
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Drifting off thread, I know, but did Winkle Brown really fly the 163 under power and, if so, where? He mentioned doing so in a TV interview a while back but in his autobiography only describes gliding flights. He may well have covered up an unauthorised powered flight. He is not the sort of man to exaggerate his already considerable achievements but it's about time he told us the full story!
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 13:34
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Hmm, it's quite a mystery. Reason I asked is because I was writing a basic account of the M.52 story for my forthcoming Lightning book and although it's easy to re-trace the story as related in many books and magazines, there's hardly any evidence to support what is repeatedly said.

As far as I can determine, there doesn't seem to be any obvious single cause for the cancellation and it was probably due to a variety of factors including cost (the Government was nearly bankrupt), risk (there wasn't complete confidence in the design, although it seems odd that it was allowed to progress so far), American pressure (it seems clear that they wanted all the credit for their X-1 project) and Barnes Wallis trying to secure rocket model work for Vickers.

I just don't know how the un-supported story has persisted for years that the M.52 data was handed-over to Bell in exchange for American "data" (about what?) which never materialised. The story seems plausible but there doesn't seem to be any evidence to support it. I don't imagine that the M.52 data was handed-over for nothing, and yet there seems to be no evidence of what we were expecting (or actually received) in return. You'd think that after all these years there would be, and yet all one finds is endless repetitions of the same basic story, without any factual information to support it.

It's quite a saga!
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 18:38
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Eric Brown

Atcham,

Maybe it's only in our revised 2006 edition of 'Wings on My Sleeve' but Eric Brown is quite clear how he managed to find a 'live' ME-163 and, after seeing a German instructor perform towed glides, and a demo' of the rocket motor, flew it under power from its' trolley at 06:00 from Husum.

Pages 104-5.

His authority to do so was dubious, as he knew, and there had been a ban on other pilots flying captured aircraft after some accidents; Winkle Brown had a piece of paper giving him special permission and willing German groundcrew, but whether this was applicable was unsure so he didn't take any chances.
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 19:28
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M52 X1

There is a book that I am sure that you will have read, but just in case, it is entitled Project Cancelled by Dereck Wood, published by Janes, ISBN Number0 7106 0441 6. Pages 18 to 24 cover the Miles episode . My own view having worked on various projects concerning supersonic flight that the then government was indeed bankrupt ,and were prepared to give in return for goods, favours or even hard cash, any kind of research or developement that had been undertaken. Another example is the sale of 18 RR Derwent jet engines which went on to power the Mig 15 prototypes. Hope this helps Alan
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Old 6th Jan 2009, 21:13
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Indeed, I quite agree, but the mystery is precisely what the Government got (or expected to get) in retrun for handing-over data. The story is churned-out time and time again but there seems to be no evidence.
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 08:15
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but the mystery is precisely what the Government got (or expected to get) in retrun for handing-over data.
A patronising pat on the back from the US?!!
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 12:54
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hmm... well maybe, but even our government wouldn't be that stupid! I think it's safe to assume that there must have been some motivation to hand-over data. But then, the more I read about this saga, there doesn't seem to be any evidence of this data transfer having actually taken place, or precisely what the data might have been. The more you read, the more it takes-on the appearance of an urban myth don't you think?
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 20:52
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Considering that the first X-1 airframe was rolled out in December 1945 it would appear to be difficult to believe that any input from the Miles project would have influenced the design. The movable horizontal stabilizer was always a feature of the X-1 but was for trimming purposes not primary flight control. Electrically operated it had a range of 5 deg up to 10 deg down. Conventional unboosted elevators were fitted.

The straight wing was there as they didn't want to introduce any more unknowns (like a swept wing) into the aircraft that they had to. An extremely thin straight wing has no problem going supersonic as proved by the F-104.
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 21:34
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Tim,
I think itīs quite clear that the motivation was repayment of lend-lease. No peculiar agenda!
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 21:43
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Tim,

I accept that for a dash using brute power ( and I think that includes pretty much the entire envelope of the F-104 ! ) short,straight wings will do.

I don't see why you find it an 'urban myth' that we gave it all up to the States - look at the TSR2 /F111 saga.

Then again I seem to be one of the few who don't look on the TSR2 with dewy eyed sentimentality; like the Tornado which eventualy replaced it, all I see is a slab sided piece of junk good for impressing one's girlfriend at airshows, but would have been completely unable to do its' job in WWII, let alone against the Russians.

Like the Tornado later, it seems people thought 'Jamming' was the answer to everything, including a ' here I come' TFR - and AAA - I had a discussion about this with a roomful of Tornado Navigators at West Freugh - it seemed they were confident they could shield off AAA cannon shells as much as SAM's- well they probably could deal with SAM's - as long as they were Vietnam vintage - but I didn't hear any answers to how to put off a 20-30mm round, unless you're in Star Trek.

I was shouted down as, after all, they were pro's, I was just a bystander; sadly I was proven more right than I would ever have wished in the 1st days of Gulf War 1...

I doubt the TSR2 could have even been adapted to medium altitude calmly dispensing LGB's over a relatively unsophisticated target, given that wing.

It would have been great in WWI though.

Last edited by Double Zero; 7th Jan 2009 at 22:08.
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 21:46
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tonytech2,
NACA Langley investigated the movable horizontal stabilizer in 1942/3.
See this link Fact Sheets : Curtiss XP-42 : Curtiss XP-42

Later, NACA insisted that the Bell XS-1 feature a movable horizontal stabilizer.

Ciarain.

Last edited by Kieron Kirk; 7th Jan 2009 at 21:58.
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Old 7th Jan 2009, 22:02
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Thanks, extremely interesting thread.
I've always wondered about the M.52, X-1, X-15 and even the F-104 straight wing concept success.
Guess it basically means power.

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Old 7th Jan 2009, 23:57
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A reading of ch6 and ch8 shows that NACA had both experimented with the all flying tail, and recognised possible pitch control difficulties in the X-1, hence the contract requirement for a trimable stabiliser. When Yeager complained of the dangerous nature of control difficulties in pitch it was no great leap, in my opinion, for Jack Ridely, the X-1 project engineer, to come up with the idea of modifying the stabiliser to "all flying", based on prior NACA flying tail research. Miles can be said to be prescient in their appreciation of the problem in the design of the M. 52, but I don't think they could claim to be the "inventor or originator" of the all flying tail. The US kept the X-1 flying tail, and the fact it solved the supersonic control problems, a secret for 5 years, so Yeager and other sources state. The first application on a production aircraft was the F-86E.

Edited to add I came across this in digging around. http://www.nasa.gov/centers/dryden/p...main_D-558.pdf If you go to page 69 you will see the M. 52 myth debunked.

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Old 8th Jan 2009, 04:10
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Well the TSR2 is an entirely different story which I'm also having to follow at the moment in connection with another publishing project. Like the M.52, it has a lot of sentimentality and urban myth attached to it. My own view (which I'm happy to change in the light of any evidence!) is that both the M.52 and TSR2 projects were both simple victims of cost, pure and simple. I don't buy into the notion that there were any dark political reasons which caused either aircraft to be cancelled even though such reasons have been perpetuated for decades. When you look at hard facts (such as they are) you tend to get a different story to the one that gets churned out again and again. I suppose it's just a symptom of human nature that people try and make stories appear more interesting than they actually are, but I've seen no evidence to suggest that either TSR2 or the M.52 were anything other than victims of their own cost.
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