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ARCHIE_CALVERT
08-22-2008, 04:04 PM
Now for the sad Story of the Miles M.52.

It's still a matter of controversy as to exactly why this project was cancelled. The story given out at the time was that 'Manned Supersonic Flight is too Dangerous'. But there were queues of test pilots waiting to fly in an M.52, regardless of the risks. Quite a few were German POWs who had flown not just Me262 jets, but some of the more advanced (and often hideously flawed) prototypes put out by various German design bureaux.
From Miles- A Brief History :
Outstanding was the Supersonic Project literally built round a Whittle turbine. DesIgned during the closing stages of World War lI, it had been ordered by the Government with the object of attaining the hitherto unbelievable speed of 1,000 mph. After the War ended, chicken-hearted Authority lost its nerve and cancelled the razer-winged projectile before completion so that the Americans, whom the same chicken Authority enabled to study the design, got there first.

Subsequent tests with the air-launched rocket-propelled models showed that the straight-winged Miles design could have achieved its goal. Its success full-scale might have altered the whole pattern of Britain's post war aircraft progress.
From Miles - The Post-War Years
With the Miles M52, the dream of supersonic flight and the glory of being the first to achieve it, was within the grasp of the small team at Woodley, when it was snatched away. And why? Even today, over fifty years later, the controversy is still unresolved and can cause heated discussions among aviation historians. Was it a cost-cutting government - that did indeed go on to decimate the British aviation industry?
Were they under pressure from other sources?
Did well-meaning but influential individuals completely fail to understand why a queue of test pilots wanted to fly it?
Or did so-called experts so completely misunderstand the aerodynamics of supersonic flight?
From the Museum of Berkshire Aviation :
In 1942 the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Aviation approached Miles Aircraft with a top-secret contract for a turbojet research plane designed to reach supersonic speeds. The Miles M.52 was designed for a speed of 1000mph at 36,000 feet to be reached in 1.5 minutes.

New ground was being broken in all areas of technology and design. The wings were very thin and designed to lie within the Vee-shaped shock wave created by the aircraft nose at supersonic speeds.
A principle later used in the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter...
The fuselage had a separate cone shaped nose section housing the crew of one. In the event of an emergency, this pressurised pod was to have been separated from the remainder of the fuselage by using explosive bolts. The pilot was to have made his final exit by parachute.
A similar method is used for escape from the F-111.
Engine development went to the Whittle company utilising the W2/700 with after burning - later known as the Rolls Royce Derwent. Further power was to have been obtained by fitting a specially ducted fan to increase the airflow through the jet system.
This would have been the first aircraft with an afterburning Fanjet, the same type of angine used on all fighter aircraft currently in production...
However, at the end of the war, the Director of Scientific Research, Sir Ben Lockspeiser, cancelled the project "......in view of the unknown hazards near the speed of sound ....... considered unwise to proceed with the full scale experiments." In reality, despite 90% of the design work completed and with 50% of the construction finished, the project fell to a Treasury savings measure.

All design data was sent to BELL in the USA and in 1947 the sound barrier was broken in the BELL M.52 look alike, the XS-1. Also, the Rolls Royce Derwent engine appeared in the USA as the General Electric Type 1!
On the other hand, the USA gave the UK a multi-billion-dollar loan to help UK pay its war debts to America. There's a bit more to the story than that, as well. With Roosevelt's death, all the 'gentleman's agreements' that Roosevelt and Churchill may have had were null and void. Rossevelt had kept the Haberdasher from Missouri out of the loop. Truman had to go on only what he knew, not what people with their own agendas might be telling him. The co-operation that had resulted in the UK 'Directorate of Tube Alloys' being transformed into the US 'Manhatten Engineering District' evaporated, and the UK Scientists working in Oak Ridge were sent packing - but had to leave their notes behind. Similarly, the Bell Corp had send a delegation to Miles, and were given all the results from the supersonic wind tunnel tests, and in particular, data about the all-moving tail on the M.52. Some months later, the quid-pro-quo Miles delegation to Bell was informed that their visit had been cancelled 'For Security Reasons'. It was later revealed that US authorities didn't want anyone to know about the big secret they'd 'discovered'. Which secret? You guessed it... the US secret of the all-moving tail was only revealed in the 1950's.
Following the cancellation of the M.52, the Government instituted a new programme involving "no danger to test pilots and economy in purpose." This was another way of saying that it was planned to use expendable, pilotless, rocket-propelled missiles.
[...]
In October 1948 a second rocket was launched. This was successful and a speed of Mach 1.5 was obtained. But, instead of diving into the sea as planned, the model ignored radio commands and was last observed (on radar) heading out into the Atlantic.
This isn't quite true : in fact, the drone had been commanded to self-destruct by putting itself into 'uncontrolled flight' by pulling up into a radical loop, causing it to break-up. But the engineers and stress analysts at Miles had designed it to face the unknown challenges of supersonic flight : the wings had been built with cells, so each small area of them had a different flutter-frequency. The drone promptly did a 15+ g loop and carried on...
The final touch of irony came when even these rocket trials were suspended, the reason being, "the high cost for little return". The total dividend from this investment was the information that a small scale model of the Miles M.52 had successfully broken the sound barrier. But, the United Kingdom had already lost the chance of being the first nation to achieve piloted supersonic flight.
How do I know some of these (unpublished) details? My father originally wanted to build bridges. He enrolled in Liverpool University in the early 1940s. Because the normal course had been compressed (it was wartime, remember), in order to do the subjects he wanted, the only other ones available that fit his class schedule were on supersonic airflow for turbines in power plants. Come 1944, when he graduated, there he was, one of the small handful of people with training in both supersonic airflow and structures. So he was assigned to Miles, to work on the wing design. All his work, his notes, and the circular slide-rule he'd invented specifically for supersonic airflow calculations was literally stuffed in a Tea-Chest and consigned to Bell Laboratories. Alas, he died in 1993, before the movies of the 1948 rocket tests had been declassified, and shown on the UK's Channel 4, so he never saw the M.52 fly.

But he did get to meet - and shook hands with - General Chuck Yaeger.

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-indifferent.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif Bugger... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-sad.gif