Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

In an attempt to simulate research into supersonic designs the Ministry of Supply, in the late 1940s, issued specification E.R.103.  In response to the specification the Fairey Aviation Company put forward the Fairey Delta 2, or FD2, a single-seat, delta-winged design powered by a Rolls Royce Avon RA.14R engine with an afterburner and engine air-inlets blended into the wing roots.  To improve the pilot's forward view during landing, taxiing and take-off an innovative design feature was used.  The cockpit and nose section could be hinged downwards by ten degrees; a similar feature was used latter on Concorde.  The contract, which was the last fixed-wing type to be designed and built by Fairey, was placed in October 1950 and allowed for the development of two aircraft, WG774 and WG777.  There was also a static test airframe.

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)   Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

Avon engine WG774 was the first FD2 and it flew for the first time on the 6th October 1954 with Fairey test pilot Lt Cdr P Twiss at the controls.  A few days latter on the 10th March WG774 broke the World Air Speed Record by raising it to 1,132 mph, more than 300 mph greater than the old record which had been set the previous year by an American F100 Super Sabre.  WG774 had become the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight.  When Fairey was absorbed into the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) WG774 was rebuilt into BAC 221 for aerodynamic wing research as a part of the Concorde development programme.  It featured the new untried "ogive" wing, a new engine inlet configuration, a Rolls-Royce Avon RA.28 power-plant [photograph - left], a modified vertical stabiliser, a 6 ft extension to the fuselage between the cockpit and the engine intakes, a lengthened undercarriage to mimic Concorde's attitude on the ground and a fairing at the top of the tail for a cine camera.  The “new” aircraft was renamed the BAC 221 and was re-flown on the 1st May 1964 by Bristol’s Chief test pilot Godfrey Auty.  By this time the construction of Concorde was already well underway so the BAC 221 was too late to really give any input to the wing design process.  However WG744 was used for other tests until retirement in 1973 after 273 flights.

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG774)  [@ Fleet Air Arm Museum]

The second FD2, WG777 was identical to WG774 apart from slight differences in equipment and instrumentation and the removal of the under-wing flap system.

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG777)

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG777)  [@ RAF Cosford]

WG777 first flew on the 15th February 1956 from A&AEE, Boscombe Down and during the 25 minute flight it went transonic.  Through out its working life WG777 was mainly used for research and trails work.  On the 31st May 1957, during a low-level supersonic run at 10,000ft over the Wash, WG777 reached Mach 1.15.  On the 18th June 1957 WG777 reached Mach 1.25 at 10,000 ft and in the following November, while involved in flights for partial glides and associated airbrake angles, drag measurements and induced drag research, Mach 1.6 was reached.  In February 1961 Mach 1.64 was attained at 32,000 ft.  On the 8th June 1966 WG777 flew as supersonic chase aircraft for WG774 (by then rebuilt as the BAC.221) before being released from trials use after 429 flights on the 27th June 1966 with a total of just over 198 hrs of flying time on the clock.  The Avon engine was removed on the 29th November 1966, spares recovered and the airframe was then stored at R.A.E. Bedford until 8th September 1967 when WG777 was transported by road to the station museum at RAF Finningley before finally arriving at RAF Cosford in April 1973.

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG777)

Fairey Delta FD2 (WG777)  [@ RAF Cosford]

The FD2 was used as the basis for Fairey's submissions to the Ministry for an advanced all weather interceptor.  Unfortunately the FD3 never got past the drawing board stage.