Aviation Historian 24
N.Stroud - Bamboo birds & other rare species
Although not the most elegant of designs, the XL-15 Tagak was the third of the PAF-IST’s collaborative efforts, and offered a rugged, capacious aircraft made with locally-sourced materials.
The XL-15 Tagak was completed in 1954 and made its first flight late that year. It was modified during 1955-56 to provide increased rudder area and a shimmy-damper in the nosewheel undercarriage.
The aft end of the Tagak’s main fuselage pod was extensively glazed, the type being conceived as an air ambulance and liaison aircraft, although it is unlikely it was ever intended to be put into production as such; it was essentially another Wobex-research design.
The glazed rear door of the Tagak’s fuselage pod was hinged on the starboard side and opened to provide access to the 10ft 6in (3-3m)-long and 3ft 1 1/2in (0-96m)-wide cabin, which could accommodate up to two stretchers, one on top of the other, plus a medical attendant beside the pilot.
The XL-15’s cockpit layout was somewhat spartan, with only the most basic instrumentation provided for the test-flight programme. The Tagak was fitted with a Lycoming O-425 six-cylinder engine driving a fixed-pitch two-bladed propeller.
The Maya under construction in Manila. The fuselage was of semi-monocoque structure with wooden stringers and covered with Wobex, the experimental woven-bamboo material made from locally-sourced supplies of the grass.
Final adjustments are made to the complete XL-14 at Manila before its first flight, which some sources state was in December 1952, although there appears to be no definitive information on an exact date, and it may have been early 1953.
Looking like a Cessna O-1 Bird Dog with twin fins, the Maya prepares to alight after a test flight.
Nicknamed "the Flying Basket" owing to its woven-bamboo construction, the sole PAF-IST XL-14 Maya, bearing its experimental category registration PI-X-104 on its fins, taxies out for a test flight circa early 1953. The machine was a co-operative materials-research project developed by the Institute of Science & Technology (IST) and the Philippine Air Force (PAF).
Conceived as a light touring and training aircraft, the L-17 Musang was a departure for the PAF-IST design team in that it sported a low wing and did not incorporate the use of Wobex. Making its maiden flight in October 1956, the Musang did not go into production; and, like its PAF-IST stablemates, only one example was built.
The XL-10 Balang was a simple powered glider with a span of 39 ft 4in (12m) and a length of 20ft 4in (6-2m). It was completed and flown, although exactly when the first flight was made remains unconfirmed.