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XC-142 — the un-fixed wing V/STOL

21 December 2012

XC-142 — the un-fixed wing V/STOL

XC-142 in VTOL mode — NASA photo

Many design tracks have been tested so that the benefits of vertical flight can be realized by fixed wing aircraft — tilt rotor, vertically oriented additional engines and tilting wings. The XC-142 design by Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) was a four turboprop engine tilting wing aircraft produced for testing by the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and NASA. Five were built and one remains and is on exhibit at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force which provides this fact sheet (as well as photos). The XC-142’s tilting wing design was simple in concept but, as always the devil is in the detail. Should even a single engine experience a substantial loss of power while in VTOL mode a crash, or a hard landing if fortunate, would likely ensue. LTV mitigated this scenario by cross linking all power to a common drive system, which must have been incredibly complicated, to ensure that all four propellers received equal amounts of power. Depending upon load and air density (temperature and humidity), as well as amount of power lost — at least the XC-142 would not roll into the offending engine. The XV-142 was a successful aerodynamically, first transitioning from VTOL to conventional flight on 11 January 1965 — ultimately in the flight program the aircraft was flown as fast as 400 mph (640kph) and flown rearwards at a the quick clip of 35 mph (56kph). A vertically oriented fifth propeller on a rear pylon provided pitch control while in VTOL mode. Alas, the economic equation did not arrive at a favorable value, resulting with the decision to relegate the XC-142 to the museum instead of to the flightline.

Extraordinarily skilled aviation modeller Charles Fleming produced the XC-142 model which is the subject of the images below. His other excellent works can also be seen with the XC-142 model in two display cabinets located in the lobby of the Fort Worth Meacham International Airport (FTW).

Charles Fleming’s model of the XC-142 — photo by Joseph May

Rear quarter view, note the  pitch controlling fifth propeller used when in VTOL mode at the rear — photo by Joseph May

View of the  XC-142 upper area, note the fully pivoting wing and fully pivoting horizontal stabilizer — photo by Joseph May

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 21 December 2012 07:09

    Hi, Joe…
    I’m embarrassed to say that I walked by this aircraft less than 4 months ago, and never once noticed the propeller in the back! This is really interesting; I think a fascinating story would be a comparison of how the research and experience of this one relates to the current idiom (if that’s the right word!) the Marines are using for what seem like similar purposes.

    Have a wonderful Holiday!…Are you FLYING on Christmas Day?!!!..or should I say “Eve”!! :-))
    thanks for a great year!

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      21 December 2012 14:56

      Hi Dave,

      Thanks for this note as well as the previous one. Today is the 600th post as a matter of fact. Who knew? I appreciate your subtle compliment, as well 😉

      I have to tell you — I miss things at museums all of the time.There is so much to look at and usually time is a factor. There have been so many things I discovered only much later, after I’ve left the museum, when I’m editing the photos. There is just so much to see at the USAF Museum you just can’t see it all 😉

      Happy Holidays,


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