Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak
      Conceived in 1945, the D558-1, Skystreak was designed by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA).  Three were built.  The Skystreaks were turbojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails.  All were powered by Allison J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds of thrust.  They were initially painted scarlet, which lead to the nickname "crimson test tube."  NACA later had the color of the Skystreaks changed to white to improve optical tracking and photography. The Skystreaks carried 634 pounds of instrumentation and were ideal first-generation, simple, transonic research airplanes.
       The first of three Skystreaks made its maiden flight on April 14, 1947 at Muroc Dry Lake (later named Edwards AFB). Less than 4 months later, on Aug. 20, this aircraft set a new world speed record of 640.74 mph. This aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Apr. 1949 but was never flown by the NACA.  The second aircraft was delivered to the NACA in Nov. 1947 and made a total of 19 flights with the NACA before it crashed on takeoff due to compressor disintegration on May 3, 1948 killing NACA pilot Howard C. Lilly. The third aircraft was delivered to the NACA in 1949 and made a total of 78 flights with the NACA before being retired on June 10, 1953.


The first D-558-1 Skystreak, bureau number 37970, completed its maiden flight on April 14, 1947, piloted by Eugene F. May. On August 20, 1947, Navy Cmdr. Turner F. CaIdwell set a new world air-speed record of 640.663 mph while flying the D-558-1 #1. Five days later, on August 20,. 1947, Marine Corps Maj. Marion Carl, while flying the second D-558-1, bureau number 37971 (NACA 141), broke CaIdwells record by reaching 650.796 mph. The NACA utilized the third D-558-1, bureau number 37972 (NACA 142), for extensive investigations of transonic aerodynamic phenomena and aircraft behavior, retiring this Skystreak in 1953. The D-558-1 #1 did exceed Mach 1 on September 29, 1948, while piloted by Eugene F. May and flown in a 35-degree dive. One Skystreak, the D-558-1 #2, crashed on May 3, 1948 during a takeoff accident following engine failure, killing Howard C. Lilly, a NACA research pilot.

aviation td15