Military Review

American super fighter who never flew

35
American super fighter who never flew
The layout of the fighter XF-108 Rapier


The project of an unusual fighter needed to accompany strategic bombers arose in the United States in the second half of the 1950s. For its time, the novelty stood out with an excellent set of flight performance. If the plane was really built, it would be a breakthrough. However, the XF-108 Rapier fighter did not advance beyond the project. A heavy escort fighter never took to the sky.

The advent of the XF-108 Rapier


The 1950s marked the final transition to jet combat aviation. It was at this time that the United States was close to presenting the world with unique supersonic jet engines with unprecedented performance characteristics. The experimental fighter XF-108 Rapier, which began to be created in the late 1950s, just belonged to similar projects. The new fighter could well change the idea of ​​aviation. Work on its creation was carried out in conjunction with the development of a new strategic supersonic bomber B-70 Valkyrie.

The well-known American company North American, which previously presented the world with one of the best fighters of the Second World War P-51 Mustang, worked on the creation of aircraft. Work on the strategic bomber and escort fighter was carried out as part of a project initiated in 1957 by the US Air Force command to create new strategic systems. The project provided for the creation of a supersonic strategic bomber capable of speeds of up to three Machs, as well as an escort fighter that would not lag behind the bomber in terms of speed. The third area of ​​the project was the creation of intercontinental cruise missiles, which also had supersonic speed.


XB-70A "Valkyrie" in flight

If the US military quickly abandoned cruise missiles in favor of more profitable and promising ICBMs, then work on the bomber and fighter was quite active. Although the XF-108 Rapier never took to the skies, its closest relative, the B-70 Valkyrie strategic bomber, was embodied in metal. The bomber was built in duplicate and first flew in 1964. This fact did not go unnoticed by Soviet intelligence. The USSR’s response to American developments was the creation of the supersonic fighter-interceptor E-155, which in the future turned into a serial MiG-25 fighter.

Supersonic escort fighter and its capabilities


The contract for the construction of two supersonic escort fighters was signed with North American on June 6, 1957. Two new aircraft received the designation XF-108 (designation within the company - NA-257). The new fighter was originally designed as a machine capable of flying over a long range and at a very high speed - about three Machs. The aircraft was planned to be used simultaneously as both a long-range interceptor, which was supposed to intercept the strategic bombers of the USSR in the skies over the Arctic, and as a heavy escort fighter for the American strategic supersonic B-70 Valkyrie bombers. In this regard, the aircraft had to fulfill the same role as the P-51 Mustang, which accompanied the "flying fortresses" during the Second World War.

Despite the fact that the XF-108 Rapier was never built in metal, the project was promising and stood out with a number of interesting innovations. According to the initial plans, the fighter, like the B-70 Valkyrie bomber being created in parallel, was supposed to get two General Electric J95-GE-5 turbojet engines (it was planned to install six such engines on the bomber), working on pentaborane borohydrogen fuel. By its qualities, the pentaborane exceeded the classic aviation kerosene. However, it quickly became clear that the use of new fuel allowed increasing the flight range of aircraft by only 10 percent. At the same time, this fuel remained an extremely toxic and harmful substance. In August 1959, work on the creation of the J95-GE-5 engine was closed along with work on the creation of hydrogen fuel.


The second distinctive feature of the new fighter was to become a fire control system, complex for its time, and a set of used weapons. The SLA of the aircraft was created on the basis of the latest ASG-18 pulse-Doppler radar, which was supposed to provide target selection in the lower hemisphere. Powerful airborne radar equipment was supposed to work in conjunction with the latest GAR-9 Super Falcon guided air-to-air missile. A distinctive feature of the rocket was its extremely high flight speed - about 6 Machs and a long range - 176 km.

The heavy fighter was supposed to carry at once three such missiles weighing 365 kg each, while it was planned to place the missiles in the internal weapons compartment. To aim a new missile at the target, it was planned to use a combined homing head. At a medium distance, a semi-active radar guidance system was used, and an infrared guidance system was used at the end of the flight.

Externally, the XF-108 Rapier was a large aircraft equipped with two turbojet engines. After abandoning the power plant running on hydrogen fuel, the designers returned to the classic General Electric J93-GE-3AR engines with an afterburner thrust of 130,3 kN each. It was believed that this would be enough to disperse an aircraft with a maximum take-off mass of more than 46 tons, to a speed of 3186 km / h.


GAR-9 missile in the internal compartment of the XF-108 fighter

Structurally, the XF-108 was an all-metal aircraft, made according to the "duck" scheme and having a characteristic wing of a triangular shape. The wingspan was 17,5 meters, the wing area - 173,5 square meters. According to the designers, the triangular wing of the fighter was to receive mechanization along the entire trailing edge, as well as the wingtips that deviate downward. The same decision was planned for the Valkyrie strategic bomber. As conceived by engineers at North American, this was to increase the directional stability of the new aircraft, especially when flying at supersonic speeds. The crew of the fighter was to consist of two people.

Project development was hindered by the development of ICBMs


The first ready-made fighter the US military planned to receive by early 1963. At the same time, the Pentagon was ready to buy a new car in hundreds. According to initial plans, the US Air Force hoped to order immediately 480 F-108 fighters, which have already been given the official name Rapier ("Rapier"). However, this was not destined to come true. Already in September 1959, the project of creating a new heavy escort fighter was finally frozen, and in 1960, North American company finally stopped developing.

The new fighter was never built in metal, remaining forever at the stage of the wooden layout. The fate of the project was negatively affected by the constant increase in the cost of the aircraft, as well as increasing uncertainty about the prospects for strategic weapons. It was not clear which strategic bombers of the USSR should confront the new fighter with such a set of combat capabilities. At the same time, intercontinental ballistic missiles appeared on the scene, which became the main striking force of countries possessing nuclear weapons.


The layout of the fighter XF-108 Rapier

With the development of ICBMs, the need to use a “swarm” of strategic bombers, which could have been shot down when approaching a target, disappeared. At the same time, the appearance of more advanced guided cruise missiles, which could be launched from submarines and surface ships, also played a role in the closure of the XF-108 Rapier project. New types of missile weapons leveled the value and capabilities of the Rapier, which turned into an expensive toy without specific tasks. By 1960, the project was completely stopped.

However, it cannot be said that the XF-108 Rapier project for North American was completely useless. Many developments were later used to create both experimental and serial machines. In particular, the aircraft fuselage almost without changes migrated to the serial North American A-5 Vigilante supersonic carrier-based bomber, which embodied the concept of a supersonic aircraft with a more modest maximum flight speed - in the region of two Machs.
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  1. Thrifty
    Thrifty 12 June 2020 05: 30 New
    0
    Well, on its basis it was possible to create an average bomber, or a tanker plane. In vain, the Yankees buried him, this is really a good development, another thing is that everything revolutionary was initially very expensive, and there might have been technical problems that did not give designers confidence in the reliability of the aircraft. This is now f35, in its own revolutionary, but extremely unsuccessful aircraft. Three to five new problems come up with 3-4 new, more complex problems. A sort of eternal raw air problem. ...
    1. Usher
      Usher 12 June 2020 10: 28 New
      +1
      Well, who is Wiglent?
      1. Fitter65
        Fitter65 12 June 2020 10: 54 New
        +1
        Quote: Usher
        Well, who is Wiglent?

        Or rather what? A suitcase without a handle, in short ...
      2. EXPrompt
        EXPrompt 12 June 2020 11: 16 New
        +3
        Quote: Usher
        Well, who is Wiglent?

        Not a very good carrier of nuclear weapons .. dear 2 flywheel but useless ... quickly removed from service. there already went to the USSR air defense systems the chance of a breakthrough was minimal.
        1. Usher
          Usher 13 June 2020 22: 53 New
          0
          And here is successful, unsuccessful? The question was what could create an average bomber, that’s what they created. What are you grinding water here?
    2. Su24
      Su24 15 June 2020 06: 01 New
      0
      Quote: Thrifty
      or tanker


      A very bad tanker would have come out of it)
  2. Errr
    Errr 12 June 2020 06: 26 New
    +7
    No Rapier should accompany any Valkyrie, as Initially, it was not supposed to be a heavy escort fighter, but only a high-speed interceptor fighter. The Valkyrie was developed after the closure of the Rapier project.
  3. mark1
    mark1 12 June 2020 06: 32 New
    +4
    In particular, the fuselage of the aircraft almost without changes migrated to the serial North American A-5 supersonic deck bomber

    Moreover, you can see some external resemblance to the MiG-25 fuelage, which gave rise to the American press to declare copying (of course they lie)
    1. Lynx-z
      Lynx-z 12 June 2020 09: 26 New
      +4
      it's like patenting an iPhone case .. a rounded rectangle
      1. mark1
        mark1 12 June 2020 09: 33 New
        +4
        And you compare the drawings from the top view of the A-5 and MiG-25. As Polygraph Poligrafovich used to say -
        there is something from a diver ...
    2. Fitter65
      Fitter65 12 June 2020 10: 57 New
      0
      Quote: mark1
      a certain resemblance to the MiG-25 fuelage, which gave rise to the American press to declare copying (of course they lie)

      If you look closely at the projections of the F-15, then there you can see the external resemblance to the MiG-25 ...
      1. PilotS37
        PilotS37 12 June 2020 23: 00 New
        +3
        Quote: Fitter65
        If you look closely at the projections of the F-15, then there you can see the external resemblance to the MiG-25 ...

        In Soviet times, it was considered an indisputable truth in the domestic design environment that the F-15 was copied from the MiG-25. As it was in fact - I do not know. Actually, copying certain solutions is a very common approach to designing both aircraft and other equipment. Another thing is that someone stupidly clones the product of a more developed competitor, and someone spies on interesting solutions and reinterprets them for their urgent tasks. The "Eagle" was not a "stupid" clone of the MiG-25, as these machines performed different tasks. But the MiG-25 was the first production car with two keels, a wing shifted back and “box-shaped” air intakes at the edges of the fuselage - at Eagle we also observe all this ...
    3. Operator
      Operator 12 June 2020 11: 37 New
      0
      Yes, yes: Yes, the MiG-25 was without a doubt a tailless duck laughing
      1. mark1
        mark1 12 June 2020 12: 24 New
        +1
        Judging by your comment, you simply did not deign to see (A-5 and MiG-25 just in case)
        1. Operator
          Operator 12 June 2020 12: 31 New
          0
          How about understanding aerodynamic schemes - where is the tailless and where is the MiG-25?
          1. mark1
            mark1 12 June 2020 12: 32 New
            +1
            Are you just understanding? A-5 and MiG-25.
            1. Fitter65
              Fitter65 13 June 2020 01: 46 New
              +2
              Quote: mark1
              Are you just understanding? A-5 and MiG-25.

              By the way, the Americans still claim that the MiG-25 repeats the aerodynamic design of the A-5 Vigilante, and because of the bucket air intakes. Well, spied, maybe the appearance of the VZ, the rest of the filling of these air intakes is different from what is inside the A-5. Like the VZ on the F-15, it seems to be the same as the MiG-25, apparently, but all the others ...
          2. bayard
            bayard 13 June 2020 02: 20 New
            +1
            Andrey, the A-5 has the usual scheme - with classic elevators and one keel. From the fighter described in the article, he only has a fuselage (without an arms compartment, the A-5 had a pipe in the ass through which he shot the nuclear warheads back).
            And from the top view they are really similar - two engines, bucket-shaped air intakes on the sides, a similar wing shape (in general terms). But the MiG-25 has two keels, a single cabin, and this is an interceptor.
            The A-5 was built as a carrier-based bomber, but was used as a high-altitude reconnaissance during the Vietnam War.
            hi
  4. Undecim
    Undecim 12 June 2020 07: 25 New
    +5
    The new fighter was never built in metal, remaining forever at the stage of the wooden layout.
    The layout cost 142 million dollars then. Today it is about 000.
  5. Herman 4223
    Herman 4223 12 June 2020 10: 13 New
    0
    In fact, this is an analogue of our instant-25, which still flies around the world.
    I think that the application of this typewriter would be found if the project was not hacked.
  6. MVTUshnik
    MVTUshnik 12 June 2020 16: 45 New
    0
    Something very similar to the Canadian CF-105 Arrow and with a similar fate, however, it flew ...
  7. bk316
    bk316 12 June 2020 17: 19 New
    0
    It looks really beautiful.
    But the wooden model is not a plane, from the word at all. If he reached the stage of a technology demonstrator, there would be something to talk about ....
  8. doubovitski
    doubovitski 12 June 2020 17: 25 New
    +5
    Quote: mark1
    And you compare the drawings from the top view of the A-5 and MiG-25. As Polygraph Poligrafovich used to say -
    there is something from a diver ...

    If you, I, he solves the 2 + 2 problem, then for you, for me, and for all this = 4. Who copied from whom?
    Since you live on planet Earth with specific atmospheric properties, physical constants, and everyone faces the same tasks, they will inevitably get very similar forms and properties of machines.
    Perfect secrets are being developed, but .... Start making an airplane first according to the characteristics of the Wright brothers - get the same whatnot. Well, nothing else can happen if you build on those materials, engines and those speeds.
  9. doubovitski
    doubovitski 12 June 2020 17: 32 New
    +1
    Quote: Herman 4223
    In fact, this is an analogue of our instant-25, which still flies around the world.
    I think that the application of this typewriter would be found if the project was not hacked.

    Do not confuse cause with effect. They didn’t, because they did not see the need for it.
    If you do not need an all-terrain vehicle, floating, flying, crawling on the ground and underground, then you will not do it. Or am I wrong?
  10. PilotS37
    PilotS37 12 June 2020 23: 07 New
    0
    Structurally, the XF-108 was an all-metal aircraft, made according to the "duck" scheme and having a characteristic wing of a triangular shape.

    It is hoped that the author just described ...
    “Duck” was “Valkyrie,” and “Rapier” was tailless. Although ... how could you not have noticed a gross error here?
  11. PilotS37
    PilotS37 12 June 2020 23: 09 New
    +2
    Structurally, the XF-108 was an all-metal aircraft ...

    In fact, he was first “all-paper”, and then reached out to “all-wood” ...
  12. Smirnoff
    Smirnoff 13 June 2020 11: 03 New
    +4
    Thank you Sergey. good Still about the "Valkyrie" read yes
  13. Max Lebedev
    Max Lebedev 14 June 2020 12: 50 New
    +3
    And it's good that I did not fly yes
  14. Ilya_Nsk
    Ilya_Nsk 15 June 2020 06: 37 New
    +1
    We even flew the T-4 or Sotka, but ... airplanes with a novelty ratio of more than 70% are not launched into the series.
  15. zenion
    zenion 20 June 2020 13: 38 New
    0
    Once dreamed about him a lot, then it was almost. He could fly forward, backward and obliquely. Since the pilot could not fly such a cool aircraft, they taught dragonflies to fly this aircraft, because for them it’s the same as flying, hanging, flying away without knowing where.
  16. Observer2014
    Observer2014 15 July 2020 18: 04 New
    -3
    Really thanks for the article! It was interesting and informative. Plus an article. yes good
    Truly the golden years of aviation! This is what kind of technological leap humanity made in those years. To think about it. hi
  17. Pavel57
    Pavel57 18 August 2020 22: 20 New
    0
    The fence is like the MiG-25.
  18. Pavel57
    Pavel57 18 August 2020 22: 21 New
    0
    Quote: Ilya_Nsk
    We even flew the T-4 or Sotka, but ... airplanes with a novelty ratio of more than 70% are not launched into the series.

    Due to the high novelty, Sotk did not reach the series.
  19. Private SA
    Private SA 31 August 2020 00: 28 New
    0
    If the SR-71 "Blackbird" has a titanium, it seems, the fuselage lengthened due to heating (from memory
    from the old magazine "Foreign Military Review") at slightly higher flight speeds as much
    by 10 cm, then how would the locks of the inner bomb bay behave with a similar deformation of the hull when the GAR-9 was dropped from the penultimate photo?
  20. Maksim_ok
    Maksim_ok 15 September 2020 23: 34 New
    0
    “In particular, the fuselage of the aircraft, practically unchanged, migrated to the serial supersonic deck bomber North American A-5 Vigilante, which embodied the concept of a supersonic aircraft with a more modest maximum flight speed - in the area of ​​Mach two

    - it should be mentioned that besides the A-5, the fuselage of the XF-108 Rapier is clearly guessed in the MiG-25