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D-558-2 Skyrocket

The Douglas D-558-2 "Skyrockets" were among the early transonic research airplanes like the X-1, X-4, X-5, and X-92A. Three of the single-seat, swept-wing aircraft flew from 1948 to 1956 in a joint program involving the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), with its flight research done at the NACA's Muroc Flight Test Unit in Calif., redesignated in 1949 the High-Speed Flight Research Station (HSFRS); the Navy-Marine Corps; and the Douglas Aircraft Co.

DFRC Photo # Photo Date Image Description
    D-558-2 Skyrocket Photo Collection Contact Sheet
  Skip links in main table D-558-II Aircraft Photo Collection Contact Sheet
E55-1860 July 29, 1955 D-558-2 #145 with external stores
E-1090 Nov. 20, 1953 Scott Crossfield in cockpit of the Douglas D-558-2 after first Mach 2 flight.
E-1096 Nov. 20, 1953 High-Speed Research Station Director Walter C. Williams, NACA pilot A. Scott Crossfield, and Director of Flight Operations Joe Vensel in front of the Douglas D-558-2 after the first Mach 2 flight.
E-1109 Nov. 20, 1953 Scott Crossfield talks to newsmen in front of NACA South Base hangar after his first flight to Mach 2 in the Douglas D-558-2.
E-1113 Nov. 20, 1953 NACA pilot A. Scott Crossfield next to the D-558-2 after the first Mach 2 flight.
E49-00200 1949 D-558-2 on ramp
E49-0227 1949 Left side view of D-558-2 Skyrocket on ramp at South Base
E-1441 1954 D-558-2 Aircraft on lakebed
E-1442 1955 D-558-2 Aircraft on lakebed
E-2478 1956 D-558-2 launch from Navy P2B-1S
E-3996 1958 D-558-2 in flight with F-86 chase
E49-00223 1949 D-558-2 pre-flight operations
E-1526 1954 D-558-2 #2 being mounted to B-29 mothership in hangar
E-1013 August 1953 D-558-2 #2 being mounted to B-29 mothership
E-1014 1953 D-558-2 #2 being mounted to B-29 mothership
E56-2499 August 30, 1956 D-558-2 #143 LOX jettison with P2BS in background
E49-221 December 1949 D-558-2 being towed on lakebed
E49-0219 1949 D-558-2 Skyrocket take off using JATO assist.
E-927 1953 Wing Chord extension on D-558-2
E-959 1953 NACA Aircraft in hangar 1952 - L-R: Three D-558-2s, D-558-1, B-47, and the wing of YF-84A. Background are the X-4 and F-51
E-960 1952 NACA Aircraft in hangar 1952 - clockwise from front center: YF-84A, D-558-I, D-558-2, B-47, X-1 ship 2, and XF-92A. Behind the B-47 L-R: X-4, F-51, D-558-I, and X-5
E-1914 1955 NACA Aircraft on lakebed - D-558-2, X-1B, and X-1E
E-1152 1952 NACA D-558-2 Test Force w/B-29 & F-86
E-1239 1954 NACA Aircraft on lakebed - X-3, D-558-I, F4D, D-558-2
E-1433 1954 NACA Aircraft Fleet on lakebed - D-558-2 and B-47
E-2889 August 4, 1953 NACA research aircraft - Bell X-1A, D-558-1, XF-92A, X-5, D-558-2, X-4, & X-3

Additional Information

The HSFRS became the High-Speed Flight Station in 1954 and is now known as the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. The Skyrocket made aviation history when it became the first airplane to fly twice the speed of sound.

On Nov. 20, 1953, shortly before the 50th anniversary of powered flight, Crossfield piloted the Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket research aircraft to Mach 2 - twice the speed of sound, or more than 1,290 mph.

The '2' in the aircraft's designation referred to the fact that the Skyrocket was the phase-two version of what had originally been conceived as a three-phase program, with the phase-one aircraft having straight wings. The third phase, which never came to fruition, would have involved constructing a mock-up of a combat-type aircraft embodying the results from the testing of the phase one and two aircraft.

Last Modified: October 10, 2006
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