Planes of Fame Air Museum
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Home »  Collection »  Flying & Static Aircraft »  Douglas D-558-2 'Skyrocket'


  • The US Navy contracted with Douglas Aircraft to build the D-558-2 Skyrocket (developed from the D-558-1 Skystreak) as a transonic and supersonic research vehicle. Three of the single-seat, swept wing aircraft were built in 1948. Two of these were used by the U. S. Navy and the one on display at Planes of Fame Air Museum was flown by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA.
  • Flight tests were held from 1948 through 1956 in a joint program between the Navy and NACA at Muroc Flight Test Center (later Edwards Air Force Base) in California. On November 20, 1953, just days before the 50th anniversary of the Wright Brothers' historic first flight, Scott Crossfield flew the Skyrocket to a record speed of 1 ,327 mph, twice the speed of sound -- the first time this speed had been achieved. Later that same year the D-588-2 #2, flown by Bill Bridgeman, set the altitude record of 83,235 feet.
  • Originally designed to take off and land under its own power, the aircraft incorporated both a jet (for low altitudes) and a rocket engine (for high altitudes). The aircraft was later modified to remove the jet engine, to save weight and fuel. The modified Skyrocket was lifted aloft by a B-29 and released at 35,000 feet for test flights.
  • Planes of Fame Air Museum's D-558-2 #1 Skyrocket flew 123 flights, with all but one of its flights for the Douglas test program. In 1954, NACA modified it to an all-rocket, air-launched vehicle and was flown only once at NACA by test pilot John McKay to validate wind-tunnel predictions.
  • The Museum's D-558-2, NACA 143, was acquired by NACA in August 1951. It is pictured at right at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station hangar (at Edwards Air Force Base) in 1956 jettisoning its liquid oxygen. Parked in the background is the the Navy version of the B-29 Superfortress, the P2B-1S, which served as the launch aircraft for the Museum's D-558-2.



Status: Static Display
Manufacturer: Douglas Aircraft Company
Year: 1948
Model: D-558-2 Skyrocket
Registration Number: 143
Serial Number: 37973-NACA-143
Crew: 1
Max T/O Weight: 15,787 lb.
Span: 25 ft. 0 in.
Length: 45 ft. 3 in.
Height: 12 ft. 8 in.
Maximum Speed: Mach 2.007
Cruise Speed: N/A
Rate of Climb: 22,400 ft/min
Power Plant: 1 × Reaction Motors XLR8-RM-5 4-chambered liquid-fueled rocket engine, 6,000 lbs. thrust
Range: N/A
Service Ceiling: 83,235 ft.
Armament: None


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