X-3 Stiletto Test Aircraft

X-3 Stiletto test aircraft on runwayThe single experimental Douglas X-3, called the Stilletto because of its knife-like shape, was built to test the effects of high temperatures induced by high speeds on an aircraft, to investigate the use of new materials such as titanium, and to explore new construction techniques.

Major Charles E. Yeager, who was the first pilot to exceed the speed of sound, was part of the inspection team for the Stiletto mockup. The unusual aircraft had a long, tapered nose, which contained most of its 1,200 pounds of instrumentation, and tiny wings. The two engines were side by side in the fuselage, and the pilot's downward ejector seat in the pressurized cockpit also operated as an electronically controlled lift.

Although the aircraft never reached the speeds it was designed for, it contributed greatly to the development of high-speed aircraft. Data obtained with the X-3 was distributed throughout the U.S. aviation industry.

In 1956, the X-3 found its resting place at the U.S. Air Force Museum.

First flight: Sept. 20, 1952
Wingspan: 22 feet 8 inches
Length: 66 feet 9 inches
Height: 12 feet 6 inches
Weight: 22,400 pounds (max.)
Armament: None
Power plant: Two 3,370-pound-thrust (4,900-pound-thrust with afterburner) Westinghouse J34s
Speed: 706 mph
Ceiling: 38,000 feet