By Ben Guenther
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Additional resources for North American X-15, X-15A-2
Filled with propellants, X-15, 56-6672, is seen departing Edwards AFB under the wing of the NB-52A, on October 27, 1965. Not visible is an experimental sharp leading edge attached to the upper vertical tail surface for the exploration of boundary layer noise. I~ J ~ . '" . ~ ~ .... ~ ~ " ~ ! s. ~ ~ Just prior to launch, X-15, 56-6672 is seen dumping LOX and anhydrous ammonia during the top-off process. Also visible on the nose is "tempfac" paint-which is temperature sensitive and can provide post-flight temperature data based on its color Equipped with podded wingtip sensors, tail mounted radiometers, and a vertical tail surface with a special sharp leading edge, X-15, 56-6672, is seen being carried to launch altitude under the wing of the NB-52A on September 14, 1966.
As can be seen, the seat installation maintained tight tolerances inside the X-15's already cramped cockpit. Restraining lanyards were built into the seat and attached directly to the pilot's suit. Each pilot had his own buttock pad fitted for comfort. This could be changed to accommodate each pilot. Of note is the neat fit of the retractable stabilization wings inside the X-15's canopy. AS ~ .. , . . ' '~. §"~! " . jt, -;,. " • ~""\ ... ;; 1 ( I ~ i"""-- ~. c: ~ " f § ~ The X-IS's ejection seat headrest was actually a two-part assembly with an upper component permanently attached to the canopy/windscreen.
Initial X-15A-2 flights with a dummy scramjet in place were conducted without the external propellant tanks. The primary physical difference at this point was the highly modified ventral fin which had a totally reconfigured leading edge and numerous internal changes. The various scramjets tested were usually painted white over-all with a black horizontal photo reference marking. The steel helium tank which protruded from the compartment immediately aft of the vertical tail was left unpainted. All other markings for the X-15 were standard.