The first prototype VJ101C (X1) before the fitting of its non-afterburning wingtip nacelle-mounted RB.145 engines. The VJ101C was of light-alloy construction, but in the hot regions near the fuselage-mounted engines, titanium and steel were also used. The continuous multi-spar wing was attached to the fuselage by six bolts.
Encapsulating West Germany’s post-war ambition to "do something challenging”, the EWR VJ101C supersonic VTOL experimental jet fighter helped to put the nation back on the map technologically. The first prototype is seen here on the gyroscopic pedestal used for trials at Manching.
The second of the two EWR VJ101Cs, known as X2 and given the registration D-9518, is prepared for a flight at Manching during its test-flight programme.
The first prototype in conventional flight before its accident in September 1964. George Bright remarked that ‘‘we based our techniques on the assumption that the flying qualities of the ‘bedstead’ and the aircraft would be the same; our only error was that the aeroplane’s flying qualities were far superior to those of the test rig!”
In 1967 the X2 suffered a hard landing after ingesting hot engine gases while taking off from a raised platform. It was heavily damaged but was rebuilt to flying condition, and was finally retired in the second half of 1971.
Following successful trials with the Wippe, the next stage was to construct a “flying bedstead” for hovering trials. This incorporated three RB.108s in the same geometric locations as proposed for the VJ101C prototypes. After trials on a telescopic arm the rig made its first free flight, in the hands of George Bright, in March 1962. Note the “sail” fitted on its underside to simulate the keel area of the aircraft to determine ground-effect characteristics.
Both VJ101Cs - this is the second, X2 - were mounted on a test pedestal for trials. The aircraft was tethered at the centre of gravity with freedom of movement about all three axes, then put through an extensive series of trials, including nacelle-swivelling and automatic throttle controls for the lift engines during transitions.
The second VJ101C is now a permanent exhibit at the excellent Deutsches Museum in Munich. Some 115 foreign companies participated in the VJ101C project, 35 of which were British (including Dowty-Rotol, Dunlop, Martin-Baker and Lucas), 60 of which were American and 20 were French, to the tune of more than DM62,000,000.
Engineers discuss preparations for the next flight of the X2 at Manching during its flight test programme. By late 1967 EWR had some 1,750 employees, split equally from the Messerschmitt and Bolkow groups, Heinkel having left the consortium in 1964.
The X-2 during hovering trials at Manching. Note how the wingtip nacelles are in the VTOL position, in which the entire intake section slides forward to improve air ingestion at oblique angles.
The first stage in the development of the VJ101C was the Wippe (see-saw), a simple frame into which a single Rolls-Royce RB.108 engine and cockpit were incorporated in order to investigate the use of thrust modulation for primary control of the aircraft. The seat could also be turned sideways to simulate roll-axis conditions.
Engineers inspect the port engine of VJ101C X1. The nacelles were attached to the wing by means of a hollow shaft which passed through the nacelles between the engines.
The flap of the air intake for the two Rolls-Royce RB.145 lift engines would be opened during hovering and transitions to and from aerodynamic flight.
The second VJ101C, X2, at Manching in 1969. Designed as an experimental fighter, the VJ101C pre-dated the VFW VAK-191, which was developed as a potential VTOL aircraft for the nuclear strike role, and which first flew in September 1971.
The three pairs of engines were linked to a common throttle lever located at the forward end of a box on the port side of the cockpit, as seen here in the X1.
The well-organised cockpit of the X1 featured basic flight instruments on the upper panel with engine dials below.
Firemen surround a disconsolate-looking X1 following the accident in which George Bright was forced to eject from the aircraft on September 14, 1964. The machine was damaged beyond repair and was retired from the VJ101C programme.
The second VJ101C prototype, X2, was powered by a total of six Rolls-Royce RB.145 turbojets; two fuselage-mounted lift engines behind the cockpit and four afterburning engines located in pairs, one on top of the other, in wingtip-mounted nacelles