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Jack Mugan
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The Last Flight Of The North American Aviation X-15

November 18, 2014 · in Aviation · · 16 · 1.6K

I ran out of time to enter a club contest for anything that flew in space, so this was a one week build to have something to enter.

This model represents the X-15A-2 that was rebuilt from the second that was nearly destroyed on November 9, 1962. The rebuilt airframe was stretched to accommodate the new fuel tanks strapped to its sides. A mock up Ram Jet hangs under the tail.

Externally mounted tanks were designed to increase the burn time by approx. 70%. Each tank was 23.5 feet long and 38 inches in diameter. The right tank weighed 648 Lbs. empty and contained approx. 1,080 gals. of Anhvdrous Ammonia. The left hand tank weighed 1,150 lbs. empty, and contained three Helium bottles required for propellant tank pressurization in addition of approx.. 793 gals. of liquid Oxygen. The left tank was approx. 2,000 lbs. heavier at launch. Both tanks contain parachutes for recovery and reuse.

The white color Dow Corning DC-90-090 RTV aka Ablator, is actually layered over a bright pink color Martin-25S material. This coating was effective in accelerating the effects of friction-generated heat at high Mach numbers. It was labor intensive and only good for one mission.

On October 3, 1967 Pete Knight flew the X-15A-2 from Mud Lake and set an unofficial speed record of 4,520 mph at the altitude of 354,200 feet in this configuration.

This is a kit from 1987 and represents one of the three X-15s built by North American Aviation. They were to determine if manned aircraft could be built to withstand speeds of up to Mach 6 and to reach altitudes above 100,000 feet. The program lasted from1959 to 1967 and the X-15 flew 199 times.

Reader reactions:
5  Awesome

3 additional images. Click to enlarge.

16 responses

  1. Nice lookin' build, Jack (I didn't realize the last a/c was white). I have several of those stands in various sizes in that first [small] pic - they come in handy.

  2. Great build Jack, looking very nice, you like fast things 🙂
    And thanks also for this information about the real thing, the X-15 was for always black, until now !
    Why was one window overpainted ? Good luck for the contest !

  3. This is by far my favourite aircraft of all. Just love this one in its ablative coating. I have seen photos of one with a pink ablative material as well. I presume the pink was covered with a 2nd white ablative coating. Mine will be weathered to show Pete Knight's scorched X-15 after his record flight. Well done Jack!

  4. Another great build Jack, as usual.
    An iconic plane too.
    Well done mate.

  5. Nice build, did I miss the scale?

  6. I'm guessing 1/72? I've had my eye on the Special Hobby kit in 1/32, but haven't made the commitment as yet. It's one of those off-centre projects that appeal to me.

    I really like the version here.

  7. Looks like a promising entry Jack. Safe to say there won't be a similar aircraft on the table. Don't think I could build something out of Lego's in a week.

  8. Cool X-15 Jack. I've always been intrigued by this "space ship" and would LOVE to have one in my collection (1/48 of course:)). Great job!

  9. It looks great, Jack, good luck in the competition.

  10. Great looking X-15 Jack. I remember seeing the movie "X-15" when I was a kid, and being thrilled to get the Revell "box scale" for my 10th birthday. Hope that you bring home gold

  11. hey that is a pretty interesting build, and a great looking model!

  12. Jack, that X-15 is as good looking as it is unusual.. Another winner !

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