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Bell X-2

Bell X-2 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review March 2018 Title Bell X-2
Author Peter E. Davies Publisher Osprey Publishing
Published 2017 ISBN 9781472819581
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $20.00


Designed to probe Mach 3 flight regimes, Bell's X-2 "contributed significantly towards the structural, control and airborne launch technologies that form the foundation for hypersonic flight".

That's author Peter E. Davies on the ultimately ill-fated project. Now he recaps the test program's achievements and calamities in Bell X-2 – sixth in Osprey's blossoming "X-Planes" range.

Text traverses the total tale. After introductory remarks, coverage summarizes airframe, swept-wing, propulsion, fuel, materials, and mothership considerations.

Advancements included, among other things, electrical flight controls, an encapsulated escape system and the world's "first use of computerized simulation in a flight test program".

Davies' study then segues to X-2 tests themselves. Coverage summarizes all individual flights and participating personalities. At least one noteworthy test pilot considered the program "jinxed".

Was he right? After just 20 flights, both X-2s were destroyed in crashes, killing two test pilots. Still, Bell's bedeviled design contributed to airframe, instrumentation, thermodynamics, and coatings advancements.

Color and B&W photos liberally season the study. An informative cutaway illustrates key airframe components. A handy three-view confirms X-2's compact design. Biographic sidebars recap program personalities. And a selected bibliography and index neatly wrap things up.

Bell proposed advanced X-2 versions – including a Mach 7 variant that lost to North American's legendary X-15. For that saga, see Osprey's third "X-Planes" installment.


My sincere thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review sample!