The X-24A was the Martin Corporation's subsonic test version of the US Air Force's preferred manned lifting body configuration. This was flat-bellied with canted vertical stabilizers at the end of the rounded upper body. It was of the same configuration as the subscale X-23 Prime vehicle tested on suborbital flights in 1966 - 1967. Martin and the USAF hoped it would lead to a larger Titan III-launched manned orbital ferry vehicle (cinematically embodies in the 'XRV' spacecraft in the 1969 film version of Martin Caidin's novel 'Marooned'). The X-24A was air-launched from an NB-52 carrier aircraft and reached a maximum speed of Mach 1.6 and a maximum altitude of 21,800 m during its flight test. The X-24A handled well as a glider, but in powered flight it exhibited a nose-up trim change that prevented it from flying at low angles of attack. Air Force interest then focused on 'high fineness lifting body' configurations and the X-24A airframe was converted to the X-24B configuration.
Power for the real X-24A came from an 8,000 pound thrust rocket motor, and this is modeled in the X-Plane version. For landing assistance the original also was equipped with two 500 pound thrust motors. To simulate this you can add throttle while landing up to about a value of "15" on the fuel flow meter. You may find this handy since the X-Plane X-24A tends to drop very fast while unpowered. If you are very, very good you can try a glider landing; just carry lots of speed and flare at the last moment. You can start your X-24A flight from a B-52 drop which is authentic, but it also can take off from a runway. Handling is pretty good but the sink rate builds alarmingly fast if unchecked.
I am making this early version available to the X-Plane community for three reasons. One is that the lifting body design has not been explored very much in X-Plane so I thought is would be a good "trial horse" for people to tinker with and make changes. Second is that I have tried with Paint Shop Pro to make a reasonable looking shiny aluminum finish and failed miserably, but perhaps someone else knows the secret and can do a decent exterior paint job. And finally I have crashed this baby so many times while it was in development that I feel I should share the misery with others!
The Martin X-24A is currently at version 0.8 and is flyable. The glider physics model is complete but the paint job is minimal. I haven't done a lot of testing with the rocket motor from a B-52 drop but it "feels" right.
Download the Martin X-24A version 0.8 (X-Plane version 5.62)
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