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Transporting the D-558 Skystreak to Muroc Army Airfield for high speed testing.

Transporting the D-558 Skystreak to Muroc Army Airfield for high speed testing.

Movie Number   EM-0089-02
Movie Date   Circa 1947
Formats   160x120 Closed Captioned (1.6 MB)
320x240 Closed Captioned (3 MB)
480x360 Closed Captioned (4.5 MB)
640x480 Closed Captioned (7.3 MB)
D-558-1 Still photos of the D-558-1 are available in several resolutions at>

This 39 second video clip shows the D-558 Skystreak being transported to Muroc Army Airfield for high speed testing.

Once the first D-558-I was completed, the research aircraft was disassembled and loaded aboard trucks and taken from the Douglas plant by road to Muroc. This was the usual procedure during the 1940s,1950s, and even into the 1960s for moving experimental and prototype aircraft. The freeway from the Los Angeles area to the Mojave desert did not then exist, and these trips were made on winding, narrow, two-lane desert roads. Police escorts were provided to the slow convoy.

Conceived in 1945, the D-558-I Skystreak was designed by the Douglas company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the NACA. The first of three Skystreaks made its maiden flight on April 14, 1947 at Muroc Dry Lake (later named Edwards AFB), with Douglas test pilot Gene May as its pilot. Less than 4 months later, on Aug. 20, this aircraft set a new world speed record of 640.74 mph. This aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Apr. 1949 but was never flown by the NACA.

The second aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Nov. 1947 and made a total of 19 flights with the NACA before it crashed on takeoff due to compressor disintegration on May 3, 1948 killing NACA pilot Howard C. Lilly. The third aircraft was delivered to the NACA in 1949 and made a total of 78 flights with the NACA before being retired on June 10, 1953.

The Skystreaks were turbojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails. All three D-558-I Skystreaks were powered by Allison J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds of thrust. All the Skystreaks were initially painted scarlet, which lead to the nickname "crimson test tube." NACA later had the color of the Skystreaks changed to white to improve optical tracking and photography. The control surfaces were left in the red finish to maintain their balance. The white paint was heavier and the slight added weight caused problems. The Skystreaks carried 634 pounds of instrumentation and were ideal first-generation, simple, transonic research airplanes.


D-558-1; NACA; National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics; Skystreak; Muroc Flight Test Unit; High-Speed Flight Research Station; U.S. Marine Corps; Dryden Flight Research Center; DFRC; HSFRS; Muroc Army Airfield;

Selected Links: D-558-1 Skystreak Fact Sheet
D-558-1 Photo Collection
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