Aerospace Legacy Foundation

Your portal to America's aerospace history

Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) is a community based non-profit organization (501c3) including aerospace retirees and the public at large. Preserving Southern California's Aerospace and Aviation History including Downey's aerospace legacy.

X-10 Navaho

North American Aviation

 

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-10 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- North American X-10 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

"The turbojet-powered X-10 tested flight characteristics and guidance, navigation and control systems for the planned SM-64 Navaho. The Navaho was intended to be a ramjet-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile launched by rocket boosters.

North American built 13 X-10s (10 of which were test flown), and the first X-10 flight occurred in October 1953. Although accidents destroyed several X-10s, the test program proved to be successful. One X-10 flew at Mach 2.05, a remarkable achievement for the time. In 1957, however, the Navaho program was cancelled as Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) technology matured.

The remaining X-10s were used to support the XB-70 program and as targets for Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs) then in development. The museum’s X-10 is the only one still in existence." National Museum of the United States Air Force

Navaho X-10 with chute deployed. mage- Boeing and ALF Archive

Navaho X-10 with chute deployed. mage- Boeing and ALF Archive

NAVAHO SUPERSONIC "PILOTLESS BOMBER": U.S. SPACE TECHNOLOGY INCUBATOR

"The Navaho project, an effort to develop a supersonic, intercontinental-range, ramjet powered "pilotless bomber", was a failure in the sense that more than $300 million (1950s dollars) was spent and no missiles were deployed. The project did, however, foster the development of North American Aviation's Rocketdyne Division. Rocketdyne developed a series of advanced liquid rocket engines for Navaho's boosters. When ballistic missile funding became a priority, Rocketdyne's already-in-production engines were used. An early Navaho rocket engine found its way into the Redstone missile. Modified versions of the more powerful Navaho G-38 rocket engine powered Atlas, Jupiter, and Thor. Navaho's booster engine, heavily modified over the years, had, by 1998, boosted more than half of all U.S. space missions." Space Launch Report

 

The first Navaho X-10, GM-19307, was trucked to Edwards AFB in May 1953. NAA Bald Eagles Archive. More here...

The first Navaho X-10, GM-19307, was trucked to Edwards AFB in May 1953. NAA Bald Eagles Archive. More here...

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"The North American X-10 was an unmanned technology demonstrator, developed by North American Aviation. It was a subscale reusable design that included many of the design features of the SM-64 Navaho missile." Wiki. Image- Boeing and ALF Archive

"The North American X-10 was an unmanned technology demonstrator, developed by North American Aviation. It was a subscale reusable design that included many of the design features of the SM-64 Navaho missile." Wiki. Image- Boeing and ALF Archive

"In May 1950 North American began design of an aerodynamic test vehicle for the planned intercontinental version of its Navaho Mach 3 cruise missile. This would be of the same dimensions and aerodynamic shape as the cruise stage of the production missile, but powered by existing turbojets, and capable of takeoff and landing from a runway, allowing reuse. Phase 1 of the revised development program would use this drone to test the aerodynamics, structural concepts, autopilot, and inertial navigation systems in an aluminum structure that could achieve speeds of up to Mach 2. 1.

Although a test vehicle, the X-10 was designed for use as an intermediate-range supersonic cruise missile should the Air Force desire to put it into production. A forward fuel tank in the fuselage was unused in the test vehicle; and a warhead compartment was used for the PIX10 autopilot, telemetry system, cooling system, and nose landing gear. A weaponized version would have deleted the landing gear and systems, and been capable of carrying a 3150 kg nuclear warhead over a range of 2000 km.

The Navaho, with its delta wings cropped at the Mach angle, variable inlets, and forward canards to control pitch moment in the transonic region, was an incredibly futuristic design when it was first conceived in 1947. Its aluminum body was designed to maintain its strength during sustained Mach 2 cruise would heat it to 240 deg C. Systems were cooled by running hydraulic fluid around them, which in turn passed through the main fuel tank, which acted as a large heat sink.

The X-10 was in advance of anything else conceived in 1947, and anything else even flying in the 1950's. There was nothing else powered by turbojet engines that could beat it in thrust/weight, aerodynamics, speed, or altitude during its flight test period. However, since it was unmanned, and highly classified, it obtained no official records". Astronautix

"Inspecting A Part" for North American Aviation's SM-64 Navaho Missile program at the Downey plant are two workers..."

"Inspecting A Part" for North American Aviation's SM-64 Navaho Missile program at the Downey plant are two workers..."

Navaho X-10, 6-23-1953. Courtesy- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

Navaho X-10, 6-23-1953. Courtesy- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

"Preliminary design of the X-10 was completed in February 1951 and the first vehicle was delivered to Edwards Air Force Base in May 1953. The first flight occurred on 14 October 1953." Wiki

Navaho X-10, 1953. Image Courtesy- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

Navaho X-10, 1953. Image Courtesy- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

"The most troublesome aspect of the X-10 were the 'supplemental' systems that were designed to make it recoverable and reusable. The drag chute just could not be made to work, and time and again the ground barrier systems failed. In retrospect, trying to make the vehicle reusable and recoverable may have been a big mistake. The 13 vehicles built made 30 flights, but many of those were wasted just working out the autoland system, and only one vehicle survived the test program. An expendable vehicle, or one with a jettisonable data capsule, could have achieved the test objectives, faster, using the same number of air vehicles. Perhaps for this reason, the Air Force decided to abandon recovery of many of the next-generation test Navahos.

Following 15 flights at Edwards, X-10 flight test was moved to Cape Canaveral. A further 12 developmental flights were made here. The last X-10 at the Cape was used as a target drone for Bomarc surface-to-air missile tests until it was lost. The surviving X-10, the first built, is preserved at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

Development Cost $: 679.800 million in 1985 dollars. Flyaway Unit Cost 1985$: 10.000 million in 1956 dollars. Maximum range: 1,370 km (850 mi). Number Standard Warheads: 1. Standard warhead: W13. Boost Propulsion: Turbojet. Maximum speed:2,350 kph (1,460 mph). Total Number Built: 13." Astronautix

 

Navaho X-10 test firing. Image- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

Navaho X-10 test firing. Image- Boeing Management Association. ALF Archive Image.

X-10 Navaho missile at the ready.

X-10 Navaho missile at the ready.

"At the time it came into service, the X-10 was one of the fastest turbojet-powered aircraft flown. From 1953 to 1955 a total of five X-10s flew 15 flights at Edwards AFB. There it reached a maximum flight speed of Mach 1.84, flew a distance of 400 mi (644 km), and reached an altitude of 41,000 feet (12,000 m). These were performance levels superior to nearly all manned turbojet aircraft (the exception being the YF-104 Starfighter). In 1955 the program moved to Cape Canaveral, Florida to complete the test program. Here a new set of six X-10 vehicles would complete the testing of the N-6 inertial navigation system out to supersonic speeds, reach 49,000 feet (15,000 m) altitude, a total flight distance of 627 mi (1,009 km) and a peak speed of Mach 2.05." Wiki.Image- Boeing

A fantastic illustration of the Navaho X-10 missile at launch. North American Aviation, Downey, CA. mage- Boeing and ALF Archive

A fantastic illustration of the Navaho X-10 missile at launch. North American Aviation, Downey, CA. mage- Boeing and ALF Archive

"Of all the X-10s built, only one survived the test program: serial 51-9307, the first X-10 to ever fly. Of the other four aircraft that flew at Edwards AFB, one blew up on takeoff, one was lost in flight and the remaining two were destroyed in landing accidents. As for the vehicles flown at Cape Canaveral, three were expended in planned dive-in flights against Grand Bahama Island, and two were lost in landing accidents.

In 1958, the remaining three Cape Canaveral X-10s were selected for use as high speed targets for the BOMARC surface-to-air missile. The plan was to recover and reuse the X-10, not to have them shot down by the BOMARC. Unfortunately, none of these vehicles would complete their target flight: two were lost on landing and the third suffered a mechanical problem forcing it to be flown into the Atlantic." Wiki

 

About These Images

Many images on this page are part of a notebook/collection from the Aerospace Legacy Foundation (ALF) Archive. These images were donated to ALF. Technically, these images are under the domain of Boeing. All re-use of these images should include the photo credits (ALF/Boeing). Thanks.