Dragon DRW51024 Grumman X-29 Experimental Aircraft (1:144 Scale)
"...the most technically capable of the early X-15 pilots."
- Milt Thompson, Chief Engineer and Director of Research Projects at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, discussing Neil Armstrong, test pilot for the X-15
The Grumman X-29 was an experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. Developed by Grumman, the X-29 first flew in 1984 and two X-29s were flight tested over the next decade.
Two X-29As were built by Grumman from two existing Northrop F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes (63-8372 became 82-0003 and 65-10573 became 82-0049). after the proposal had been chosen over a competing one involving a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. The X-29 design made use of the forward fuselage and nose landing gear from the F-5As with the control surface actuators and main landing gear from the F-16. The technological advancement that made the X-29 a plausible design was the use of carbon-fiber composites. The wings of the X-29, made partly of graphite epoxy, were swept at more than 33 degree forward. The Grumman internal designation for the X-29 was "Grumman Model 712" or "G-712".
The X-29A demonstrated high maneuvering and control in flight testing. A maximum angle of attack of 67 was reached. The configuration, combined with a CG well aft of the aerodynamic center, made the craft inherently unstable. Stability was provided by the computerized flight control system making 40 corrections per second. The flight control system was made up of three redundant digital computers backed up by three redundant analog computers; any of the three could fly it on its own, but the redundancy allowed them to check for errors. Each of the three would "vote" on their measurements, so that if any one was malfunctioning it could be detected. It was estimated that a total failure of the system was as unlikely as a mechanical failure in an airplane with a conventional arrangement.
Pictured here is a 1:144 scale replica of the Grumman X-29 experimental aircraft. Special Order!
Wingspan: 1-/3/4 inches
Length: 4-1/4 inches
Release Date: December 2011
Historical Account: "Forward-Swept Wing" - The first X-29 was taken aloft on December 15th, 1984, from Edwards AFB with Grumman's Chief Test Pilot Chuck Sewell at the controls. With that flight, the X-29 became the second jet-powered aircraft to fly with forward swept wings (with the Nazi Germany-era Junkers Ju 287, which first flew in 1944, being the first). On December 13th, 1985, one of the X-29s became the first forward swept wing aircraft to fly in supersonic, level flight. The X-29 began a NASA test program only four months after its first flight. The X-29 proved very reliable, and by August 1986 was involved in flying research missions lasting more than three hours. The first X-29 was not equipped with a spin recovery parachute, as it was not expected to go into a spin. The second X-29 was given such a parachute and was involved in a high angle-of-attack research program. The NASA test program continued from 1984 to 1991. By the time the first X-29 was retired in 1986, it had been flown 242 times.