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6th of September 1948

Another soundbarier blog. This time we take a look at this day in aviation history in 1948 when for the first time in history a British built aircraft broke the sound barrier, a de Havilland DH.108 Swallow It was 3rd (and final) airframe of this research project that broke the sound barrier on the 6th of September 1948.

The prototype De Havilland DH108 Swallow TG283 landing on 27th May 1946istory a British built aircraft breaks the sound barrier. The de Havilland DH.108 Swallow.

Three DH.108 Swallow aircraft were built for research purposes of the tail-less swept-wing aircraft configuration.

The first aircraft (TG283) was used for low-s[eed configuration, with extensive modifications during the test program. Tests were carried out using different leading-edge slots, wing fences and other aerodynamic devices.

The second aircraft (TG306) was the high-speed test aircraft. It had a 45-degree wing sweep, modified leading edge and was fitted with a De Havilland Goblin 3 engine. Sadly the aircraft was lost as it broke up in a dive from 10.000 feet at Mach .9. The son of the de Havilland founder Geoffrey de Havilland Jr. sadly lost his life in this crash, This was the second loss of a son for the de Havilland family after John de Havilland was killed, three years earlier in a mid-air collision.

The third aircraft (VW120) was built after the tragic accident with the second aircraft. It was more streamlined (nose section and canopy) than the previous two aircraft. It made its first flight on the 24th of July 1947. Mid-April 1948 it set a speed record for a 100 km closed-circuit, flying 526 knots (605.23 mph). It was this aircraft that broke the sound barrier on this date, the 6th of September 1948.

After de Havilland showed the aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show in 1949 it was handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough for further testing and evaluation of the aircraft. In February 1950 also this aircraft suffered from a structural failure in flight resulting in the loss of the aircraft and killing the pilot RAE Test Pilot Squadron Leader Stuart Muller-Row


This left only one aircraft, the very first DH.108 Swallow flying, sadly 3 months after the crash of VW120 also this aircraft was lost in a crash, also killing its pilot, Squadron Leader Eric Genders while he attempted to abandon the aircraft. Over 480 missions were flown with these three aircraft and three of their pilots who pushed the boundaries of aircraft development lost their lives.

Some specifications of the sound barrier-breaking version of the DH.108 Swallow "VW120":

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