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TUnloading and reassembly of the D-558 Skystreak at Muroc Army Airfield.

Unloading and reassembly of the D-558 Skystreak at Muroc Army Airfield.

Movie Number   EM-0089-03
Movie Date   Circa 1947
Formats   160x120 Closed Captioned (3 MB)
320x240 Closed Captioned (5.5 MB)
480x360 QuickTime Movie (8.1 MB)
640x480 Closed Captioned(13.3 MB)
D-558-1 Still photos of the D-558-1 are available in several resolutions at

This 11 second video clip shows unloading and reassembly of the D-558 Skystreak at Muroc Army Airfield.

The long road trip of the D-558-I and its convoy was completed with their arrived at Muroc. The aircraft was taken off the truck and the re-assembly and check-out process began. The systems aboard the aircraft had to be checked out and ground tested before the initial taxi tests could be made. Once this was completed, the first flight was scheduled.

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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