Friday, April 17, 2015

VSKYLABS Northrop M2-F2 Lifting Body Vehicle

VSKYLABS Northrop M2-F2 Lifting Body Vehicle

The Northrop M2-F2/F3 was the first of the heavyweight, entry-configuration lifting bodies. It was a heavyweight lifting body based on studies at NASA's Ames and Langley research centers and built by the Northrop Corporation in 1966. The first flight of the M2-F2 - which looked much like the M2-F1 - was on July 12, 1966.

A few changes from the M2-F1 design were implemented in the M2-F2, such as pilot location (the cockpit moved forward to allow the fuel tanks to be located around the center or gravity of the vehicle, in order to minimize trim changes as fuel was used on powered flight. Another reasons for moving the pilot location forward were ejection capabilities while the vehicle was still connected to the B-52, and, to improve forward visibility).

The M2-F2 was dropped from the B-52's wing pylon mount at an altitude of 45,000 feet (13,700 m) on the maiden glide flight, piloted by Milton Thompson. He reached a gliding speed of about 450 miles per hour (720 km/h).

Some flying tips for the M2-F2 Lifting Body Vehicle finals on X-Plane:

To perform the unpowered flight in correct flying weight, you'll have to empty the fuel tanks (by entering in X-Plane the aircraft/weight and balance window, and get rid of the fuel).

In unpowered flight, the aircraft is actually falling from the sky. For comfortable handling and optimum glide ratio, maintain airspeed at about 350 Knots (or Mach 0.75 at high altitudes). It's a quite steep nose-down attitude you'll have to get used to.

You can manage aircraft potential by under/overturn the flight track to the final, or use the air-brakes. 

Initial Flare begins at ~1000 feet. Don't tempt to pull-up above this height, or to reduce speed below 300 - 350 Knots before that point because you'll lose the needed airspeed for the touchdown. Flare should be executed gradually. Use the Velocity Vector Que in the HUD to fly the aircraft until touchdown.

Landing gears extension is after the completion of the flare, when the aircraft is stable at or below 100 Feet.

The aircraft is fitted with four rocket engines and fuel, in specs according to the real M2-F2. If you wish to practice the unpowered glide, you can either locate the plane around the release point (45,000 feet, Mach 0.7), or drop it from the B-52 (after selecting it for a B-52 drop out, open 'local map' and move the B-52 to the desired location and altitude. when you'll exit the 'local map' window, the B-52 with the M2-F2 will be located on that spot).

Most important: Have fun!
Now, let's go and dig some holes in the Mojave Desert :)


Typical Lifting Body Ground Track

Typical Lifting Body Approach, Flare and landing

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