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Convair XF-92

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Convair XF-92
A photo of the Convair XF-92 in flight, courtesy of NASA.
Type Interceptor
Manufacturer Convair
Designed by Alexander Lippisch
Maiden flight 1 April 1948[1]
Status Cancelled
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 1
Unit cost US$4.3 million for the program[2]
Variants F-102 Delta Dagger

The Convair XF-92 was the first American delta-wing aircraft. The design was originally developed by Dr Alexander Lippisch of Germany before and during World War II as the ramjet powered Lippisch P.13a, but progressed only to a powerless glider example. After moving to the United States as part of Operation Paperclip, Lippisch managed to interest Convair in building the design with a jet engine as a point-defense interceptor. Like the P.13, the XF-92 was eventually built only as a prototype.

Design and development

The original Lippisch wartime design consisted of two large triangles joined together. One formed the main structure and wing, the other was the vertical stabilizer and cockpit. The only deviation from the triangular layout was an oval air intake at the nose, and nozzle at the rear. The engine was powered by coal dust stored in a large rotating disk, the odd power source being a solution to the twin problems of lack of petroleum and manufacturing capability in Germany at the time the design was being proposed.

On moving to the US, Lippisch continued working on the design. As jet engines rapidly improved in performance, Lippisch redesigned the P-13 for jet power, but keeping the original mission. The Whittle-derived Allison J33 engine available for use at the time was rather "portly", and would not fit cleanly into the wing, forcing a redesign. The new layout placed the engine in a seemingly oversized cylindrical fuselage, moving the pilot out of the triangular rudder into a separate cockpit centered in the middle of the fuselage, serving double duty as a shock cone for the engine intake. The rudder, no longer serving as the cockpit as well, was reduced in size. The basic layout was very similar to the Miles M.52 design, although the M.52 did not use a delta wing. For added thrust during an interception mission, the engine nozzle was surrounded by a series of small solid-fuel rockets. In this form, the Model 7002 was presented to the US Air Force in 1946, and was accepted for development as the F-92.

In order to gain in-flight experience with the delta wing layout, Convair suggested building a smaller prototype, which became the XF-92A. This design was considerably more "conventional" than the interceptor, mounting the pilot in a conventional cockpit near the front of the aircraft. By the time the aircraft was ready for testing, the concept of the point-defense interceptor seemed outdated and the F-92 project was cancelled. Convair continued work on the XF-92A, however, intending to use it as a pure "x-series" aircraft. Its first flight was on 1 April 1948, at Edwards Air Force Base in California with Convair test pilot Sam Shannon at the controls.

The XF-92A aircraft was powered by an Allison J33-A turbojet engine with an afterburner, and was unique in having America's first delta wing. The delta wing's large area of 425 square feet (39 m²), thin airfoil cross section, low weight and structural strength made this a great combination for a supersonic airplane (although the fuselage was of a pre-area rule design).


NACA's High-Speed Flight Research Station assumed flight testing in 1953. NACA pilot Scott Crossfield flew all 25 flights over the six-month test period. The XF-92A had a bad pitch-up problem which was solved eventually by adding different wing-fence combinations.

Research from the XF-92A test program was used in the development of Convair's two later delta-winged interceptors, the F-102 Delta Dagger and the F-106 Delta Dart, as well as Convair's B-58 Hustler bomber.

An unusual application of the XF-92A was as a movie model, stepping into the role of the "MiG-23" in the Howard Hughes' film, Test Pilot, starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh. Due to the lengthy delay in releasing the film, by the time it appeared in 1957, the XF-92A's role had been left on the cutting room floor. [3]


After a nosewheel collapse in October 1953, the XF-92A was retired from active flying and was donated to the National Museum of the united States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.[4]

Specifications (XF-92A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 42 ft 6 in (12.99 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 4 in (9.55 m)
  • Height: 17 ft 9 in (5.37 m)
  • Wing area: 425 ft² (39.5 m²)
  • Empty weight: 9,078 lb (4,118 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 14,608 lb (6,626 kg)
  • Powerplant:Allison J33-A-29 turbojet, 7,500 lbf (33.4 kN)



  1. Winchester 2005, p. 242.
  2. Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
  3. Winchester 2005, p. 243.
  4. Winchester 2005, p. 242.
  • Curry, Marty. XF-92A. Dryden Flight Research Center. [1] date 16 May 2006 Access date: 4 September 2006.
    The textual foundation for some of this article.
  • Winchester, Jim. X-Planes and Prototypes. London: Amber Books Ltd., 2005. ISBN 1-904687-40-7.

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