Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Fairey Delta 2 or FD2

The Fairey Delta 2 or FD2 (internal designation Type V within Fairey) was a British supersonic research aircraft produced by the Fairey Aviation Company in response to a specification from the Ministry of Supply for investigation into flight and control at transonic and supersonic speeds.
The design was a mid-wing tailless delta monoplane, with a circular cross-section fuselage and engine air-inlets blended into the wing roots. The engine was a Rolls-Royce Avon RA.14R with an afterburner. The Delta 2 had a very long tapering nose which obscured forward vision during landing, take-off and movement on the ground. To compensate, the nose section and cockpit drooped 10°, in a similar way to that used later on Concorde. Two aircraft were built: Serial numbers WG774 and WG777.

The FD2 was used as the basis for Fairey's submissions to the Ministry for advanced all weather interceptor designs leading to the Fairey Delta 3 for the F.155 specification, but it never got past the drawing board stage.


The first FD2 was aircraft WG774 which made its maiden flight on 6 October 1954, flown by Fairey test pilot Peter Twiss. On 17 November 1954, WG774 suffered engine failure on its 14th flight when internal pressure build-up collapsed the fuselage collector tank at 30,000 ft (9,100 m), 30 mi (50 km) from Boscombe Down. Fairey pilot Peter Twiss, ex-Fleet Air Arm, managed to glide to a dead-stick landing at the airfield. Only the nose gear had deployed, and the aircraft sustained damage that sidelined it for eight months. Twiss, who was shaken up by the experience but otherwise uninjured, received the Queen's Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air.

The FD2 test programmme did not resume until August 1955.  On 10 March 1956 the aircraft broke the World Air Speed Record, raising it to 1,132 mph (1,811 km/h), an increase of some 300 mph (480 km/h) over the record set in August 1955 by an North American F-100 Super Sabre. It thus became the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph (1,600 km/h) in level flight. This record stood until December 1957 when it was surpassed by a McDonnell JF-101A Voodoo of the USAF.

BAC 221

The first Delta 2, WG774, was later rebuilt by British Aircraft Corporation (BAC), who had absorbed Fairey, in 1960 as the ogee-ogive wing form aircraft BAC 221. This was for aerodynamic research as part of the Concorde development programme. It featured a new wing, engine inlet configuration, a Rolls-Royce Avon RA.28, modified vertical stabiliser and a lengthened undercarriage to mimic Concorde's attitude on the ground. It flew from 1964 until 1973.


WG774, in BAC 221 form, is now on display alongside the British Concorde prototype at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton. The second FD2, WG777, is preserved at the Royal Air Force Museum at RAF Cosford, alongside many other supersonic research aircraft.

Fairey Delta 2

World speed record holder WG774
high-speed research aircraft
National origin
United Kingdom
Fairey Aviation Company
First flight
6 October 1954
1966 (WG777), 1973 (WG774)
On Public Display
Primary user
Royal Aircraft Establishment
Number built

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