Vought X-27A and X-28A target gliders

Stargazer2006

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The great book on Vought aircraft by Gerard P. Moran at http://celticowboy.com/AV2/ mentions 35 examples of a target glider purchased by the U.S. Navy circa 1948-49 and designated the X-28A (with a variant apparently designated X-27A). Besides my surprise at these designations, which seem completely odd for post-war U.S. Navy, I don't recall ever seeing a picture of this aircraft anywhere else. Does anyone have more on this little-known subject?
 

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joncarrfarrelly

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Why don't you write Gerard Moran and ask him?

gpmoran@celticowboy.com

;)

He has links to some additional info on his Aeroplanes Vought pages:
http://celticowboy.com/AV2/AV2.htm
 

siegecrossbow

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cubit said:
siegecrossbow said:
What is the purpose of the canard planes on the aircraft? :-\
Read the blurb and all is revealed! :)

Wow this is the ultimate swing-wing aircraft. Transforms from a tri-surface to a canard aircraft!
 

Stargazer2006

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Wonder if the following could be a description of an Air Force variant of the same...

Some of the early B-45As powered by Allison engines were used for training purposes under the designation TB-45A. Some of them were used as target tugs with a hydraulically-controlled reel and cable system in the bomb bay for a 20-foot Chance Vought target glider.

Source: http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_bombers/b45_2.html
 

Stargazer2006

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More information found on the Vought towed glider targets:

Forty-five of these targets were ordered from Vought in 1946 for test purposes. They had a wing span of 24 feet and were tested at speeds in excess of 450 miles an hour (see news item below). The design was probably developed for the same specification as the unbuilt Grumman G-78 towed target glider study.

There is also a related patent online: http://www.google.com/patents/US2809794.pdf
 

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Stargazer2006

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After some further investigation I was able to isolate three items from 1950 describing the targets in more detail. However the chronology is far from easy to make out. Indeed, these target gliders seem to have been tested from 1946 to 1950, yet the Vought company received a contract for the V-369 (supposedly the X-28A) only on March 30, 1950. Could the early ones have been designated X-27? And if so, how different were they? (the two pics we have show apparently identical targets labeled as "XB-27" and X-28A respectively.) And if the V-369 was to be a development of the X-27 targets, what Vought designation did the X-27 carry? In 1946, only two projects appear in the list as "unmanned concept": the V-353 or P/A-VI and the V-355 or P/A-XIV, but both of these were missiles. Perhaps the V-360, dated 1947, but described as a "remotely controled target for US Navy"?


from Aviation week and space technology: Volume 52 (1950)

"Installation of tow target automatic reels and cable in 14 North American B-45 four-jet bombers is being completed at Long Beach, for towing the new Chance Vought high-speed 20-ft.-span target glider. Tow cable is hydraulically operated and controlled from the tail gunner position in the bomber. Tests have already been run on an experimental installation at Edwards AFB, including fighter attacks on the target with live ammunition after target is reeled out to operational distance behind the bomber."


from United States Naval Institute Proceedings: Volume 76 (1950)

"High Speed Targets Technical Data Digest, Feb. 1.— The Navy says its new winged aircraft tow targets have been flight tested successfully at altitudes of more than 35,000 ft. and at speeds exceeding 450 mph. Having a wing span of 24 ft., this new target glider greatly resembles the configuration of conventional aircraft. It will be used for target practice by both day and night fighter planes and to test the skill of antiaircraft crews.
Altitude is limited only by the ceiling of the towing plane, and enough structural strength has been built into the target to allow for towing speeds around 450 mph. It may be launched by normal drag takeoff or by snatch pickup. Provision is made for a 10-g ultimate acceleration in the snatch pickup. In landing, a drag parachute was designed to stop the target within 200 ft. after its release by the towing plane. The chute is carried in the tail section of the tow glider and is released by a trip in its nose section as soon as it comes in contact with the runway. The winged target is constructed of metal to aid radar reflection, and aluminum has been used generously to meet its weight requirements. Its design has been arranged to facilitate manufacture, maintenance, and assembly.
The Dallas plant of Chance Vought Division, United Aircraft Corp., was awarded an experimental contract in 1946 to build 45 models for flight testing and evaluation. The testing is going on at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent."


from Aero digest, Volumes 60 à 61 (1950)

"The Chance Vought Co. has developed also a new large metal tow target-plane, designed to appear like a conventional airplane. It has been tested at altitudes of more than 35000 ft and at speeds in excess of 450 mph. It is attached to a powered tow-plane by means of a bridle towing gear and cable that may be reeled out as much as 12000 ft. It is reeled in to about 200 ft for landing. The nose skid releases the towline upon contact with the ground, and a parachute from the tail to slow down the craft. The target-glider is 19 ft long, wing span is 24 ft and the body is bullet shape. Tests on this new target were conducted by the Naval Flight Test Center, Patuxent River, Md. Until its advent, banners and sleeves were used as targets."
 

Stargazer2006

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Hadn't noticed it before but the patent art shows a single-fin variant instead of the V-styled one:
 

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Bill S

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Here are a few scans of the X-28 Tow Target from the VAHF collection.


General arrangement
Major Assemblies
Physical Characteristics.


Enjoy!


bill
 

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Rickshaw

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If these targets were meant to be towed at speeds up to 450mph, what was meant to do the towing at that speed in the time frame?
 

Bill S

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A sketch I saw showed a B-45 looking aircraft.
I will see if I can locate that one as using a hook for
inflight pickup was one of the launch options.


Bill
 

_Del_

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TB-45


Edit: Found this blurb at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/systems/b-45c.htm: "This unusual project took shape early in 1949, ... Hence, Mr. Symington recommended and Mr. Forrestal approved the conversion of 16 B-45Cs for tow target duty in order to teach anti aircraft gunners high speed, high altitude firing. The B-45C conversion project, accomplished by North American, was allocated $1.6 million. Broken down, this meant that the modification of each aircraft cost about $80,000 and that $20,000 covered the spare components required by every plane. 'Targets and reels were supplied from current Air Force stocks. But as Mr. Symington had pointed out, there was no exact troop basis for the computation of tow target requirements. The 16 TB 45Cs proved insufficient for antiaircraft gunnery practice, so a few early B-45As were also converted as tow target airplanes. Unfortunately, the low thrust of the Allison J35 engines of the first B-45As prevented the additional conversions from performing well, and the TB 45A association with the tow. target program was of short duration."
 

hesham

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From Ailes 6/1950.
 

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Bill S

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Here are a few images from the required contract photos out of 72AC at NARA.
 

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