The X-13 was designed to test the idea
of vertical takeoff, transition to horizontal flight, and return to
vertical flight for landing by jet aircraft. Equipped with a temporary
tricycle landing gear. it was flown conventionally on December 10, 1955 to
test its overall aerodynamic characteristics. It was then fitted with a
temporary "tail sitting" rig and on May 28, 1956, flown from the ground in
a vertical position to test its hovering qualities.
The airplane made history on April 11,
1957, when it completed its first full-cycle flight at Edwards AFB,
California. It took off vertically from its mobile trailer, rose into the
air, nosed over into a level attitude, and flew for several minutes. It
then reversed the procedure to vertical flight and slowly descended to its
trailer for a safe landing.
The X-13 on display, one of two built,
was the Vertijet which made the full-cycle flight on April 11, 1957. It
was transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum in 1959.
Span: 21 ft.
Length: 24 ft.
Height: 15 ft.
Weight: 7,200 lbs. max.
Engine: Rolls-Royce "Avon" of 10,000 lbs. thrust.
Maximum speed: 350 mph.
Minimum speed: 0 mph.
Service Ceiling: 20,000 ft.