Aeroplane Monthly 1993-05
B.Jones - Tailless trio
The holders of two world records flying in formation. Nearer the camera is D.H.108 VW120, in which Derry broke the 100km closed circuit record. Behind is Vampire TG278 in which John Cunningham reached 59,492ft and thus regained the altitude record for Britain on March 23, 1948.
Geoffrey de Havilland Jr flying TG306, the second D.H.108. It was first flown on August 23, 1946, from Hatfield and it soon became apparent that it was faster than the first aircraft.
It was in VW120 on the evening of April 12, 1948 that John Derry raised the 100km closed-circuit speed record to 605-23 m.p.h.
The third prototype D.H.108, VW120. Note the lines of pressure-plotting points under the wings, which were connected to recording instruments within the fuselage.
DE HAVILLAND DH.108 SWALLOW. The DH.108 was a swept-wing tailless machine designed for research. Three aircraft were built, and they provided much useful data for the Comet design . The first machine, TG283, was intended to determine the low-speed characteristics of the swept-wing, and had fixed open-wing slots. It flew for the first time on 15th May 1946, piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland, but crashed on 1st May 1950. Maiden flight of the second aircraft, TG306. was on 25th September 1946 (also piloted by Geoffrey de Havilland). It was built for high speeds and the wing slots were retractable. It crashed only two days later (27th September 1946). The third prototype, VW 120, was another high-speed machine, which first flew on 24th July 1947 in the hands of Group Capt. John Cunningham. It was in this aircraft that John Derry established a new 100-km. closed-circuit record of 605.23 m.p.h. on 12th April 1948, and on 6th September 1948 officially exceeded the speed of sound for the first time in this country. This aircraft was in fact the first aircraft in the world to fly supersonically with a conventional aircraft engine, i.e. an aspirated engine as opposed to a rocket. It crashed on 15th February 1950.
Самолет с кодом VW120 был третьим DH.108. Заместитель министра по вопросам поставок назвал его Swallow, так как опытная машина не получила наименования от фирмы-изготовителя.
The same aircraft, in which the first supersonic flight in the UK was achieved when John Derry attained Mach 1-2 on September 9, 1948, two days before VW120 made its Farnborough debut.
TG283, the first prototype D.H.108, in October 1946. Note the tufts on the top surfaces of the wings for determining airflow behaviour.
Another view of TG306 showing the much-modified cockpit canopy.
TG283 flying at Hatfield on May 30, 1946, two weeks after its maiden flight.
TG306 at high speed over Hatfield.
VW120 survived until February 15, 1950, when it was lost during a flight from RAE Farnborough, killing pilot Sqn Ldr J. S. R. Muller-Rowland DSO DFC.
VW120 in the SBAC Challenge Trophy Race at Birmingham on August 1, 1949. It carries the race number 90, new fin flash and ejection seat triangle. The chap on the wing is obscuring the KEEP OFF legend!
The third and final D.H.108, VW120, with more pointed nose, a Vampire Mk 5 fuselage and fitted with an ejection seat. It was first flown on July 24, 1947.
Another view of the same aircraft, taken in October 1946 and showing the tufts on the upper wing surfaces. Anti-spin parachutes were fitted in the purpose-built wingtip containers but were later removed.
The same aircraft in its original configuration, with the anti-spin parachutes in wingtip containers.
Three-view of TG283, the first prototype D.H.108, built to investigate slow-speed characteristics, sporting the safety factors considered necessary in view of the RAE’s instability warnings about tailless aircraft.
TG306, the high-speed second prototype, showing the final sliding-hood modifications, in preparation for its attempt at the world’s absolute speed record.
Three-view of VW120, the third of the D.H.108 tailless trio, embodying the modifications made to ensure it was a stronger aircraft for a sustained high-speed research programme.