The "transonic" flight range in aviation, occurring between speeds of approximately 750 to 1,000 miles per hour, posed challenges during World War II due to limited aircraft technology. Post-war advancements in jet engines facilitated the exploration of this speed zone, known for its potential dangers. Throughout the 1950s, several countries achieved the breakthrough of breaking the sound barrier.
In the UK, the pursuit of supersonic flight involved innovative designs like the "AW.58," conceived by Armstrong Whitworth's team in 1948. This aircraft aimed to unravel the mysteries of transonic flight and guide the development of advanced military jets, equipped with radar and other cutting-edge features. It featured a streamlined structure with swept-back wings and turbojet engines, offering improved performance and agility.
The AW.58's envisioned performance included a top speed of around 1,070 miles per hour, facilitated by its sleek dimensions of approximately 45 feet in length and a wingspan of 24 feet. While designed as a research aircraft, considerations were made for potential military use, including the possibility of arming it with a nose-mounted 2 x 30mm autocannon. However, the AW.58 remained a conceptual study and never progressed beyond the design stage due to lack of official support.
Years of Service: 1948
Manufacturer: Armstrong Whitworth - UK
X-Plane (development, prototype, tech demo)
Aircraft designed for prototyping, technology demonstration, or research/data collection.
Length: 45.2 feet (13.77m)
Width/span: 24. 0 feet (7.32m)
MTOW: 12,004 lbs (5,445 kg)
Installed: 1 x Rolls Royce Avon (AJ.65) 6,500 lb thrust turbojet.
Maximum speed: 820 km/h (1,320 km/h | 713 knots)