New revelations, about Lockheed FDL-5 MA

Message posted by Fuel Fraction on May 04, 2002 at 19:48:34 PST:

Here are new revelations, this time about the Lockheed FDL-5 MA reentry vehicule.

I do believe the FDL-5 MA was flown around 1969, making it the real first American Space Shuttle...!!

Surely the blackest of the 3 main Lockheed known hypersonic aircrafts (L-301, HGV, and FDL-5), the
FDL-5 MA is the Manned version of the basic, unmanned FDL-5 A.
Lockheed's constructor number for the unmanned version is CL-684 (or CL-634, as the small lettering on the copy of the blueprint is a bit hard to read).

There were several versions of both the unmanned and the manned version.

The manned versions developed by Lockheed, from the unmanned proposed shape from the FDL lab (now AFFRL) show both, a version with added hump on the back, for a cockpit.
I also looked at the reference made about the canopy of the FDL-5MA there as being protected under a retractable fairing, when flying at high speed.
I no longer believe this however.
The real shroud is fact is a jettisonable shroud.
Because, if you look carefully at the pictures, the cockpit windows form an area that would be perpendicular with the flow, and, there is no space where a fairing would retract (besides, ones doesn't want any slits on the outer shell of the vehicule, as you'd end up with real problems there, stagnation point and all...
It would have to be a jettisonable fairing the same way as the X-20 had (or like the D-21, though, you would release it at LOW speed, in FDL-5's case here, just before landing, as you don't want it end up slamming right back into your aircraft... like what happened to the earlier D-21 tests).

This version is shown in the Aurora book, where it carries two external fuel tanks, a-la-X-15, on the side of its fuselage.
The caption under the photographs in the book identify the source as being Mr. Selegan.

Now, Mr Selegan is one of the past directors at the FDL labs...

Repeated mails to the AFFRL lab did not produce any response. Funnily, when the first one was sent, they sent it back to me, with written on top of it: no such person here. (I had sent it to a Mr. Boudreau, if i remember well, who had been described in a recent article in Aviation Week as one of the new chiefs for the newly formed directorates)
(either he worked at AFFRL for a record short time, or... Aviation Week print prints articles with wrongful information....??? (that was an interview of the chief staff at AFFRL on hypersonic research, etc).

A second letter went either unanswered or sent back too.
More than a little annoyed, i wisened up a bit, and sent the 3rd one registered mail (to that Mr. Selegan).
That one, they kept (ha! ha!).
Small victory, at least, this time.

It's strange in any case that this Mr. Selegan sends pictures of (still "secret") FDL-5 to journalist Sweetman, but does not respond when asked for a side view picture, or a small general view blueprint and wheel wells and landing gear pics for something that is already known....
Makes me think Bill Sweetman must be working as the USAF's agent to disseminated information when they see fit...
A few years ago, he had also declared "there is no Aurora hypersonic aircraft" (in a special issue of AFM), and that Area 51 was (nearly) closed or inactive...

The second variant of the manned version is seen in and old issue of Aviation International. It shows an artist painting of an FDL-5 with a lenghtened cockpit area, either to carry more fuel internally, or some other payload for a mission. This version also shows a second rocket engine, under a shroud, right under the fin. An engineer friend of mine thinks it might also be for a small airbreathing engine used only for landing.
The article was written by a Dr. David Baker.

The FDL-5MA shown in that article was not identified at all by the author as being an FDL-5, only as an exemple of a "reentry vehicule".

There are blueprints for the unmanned FDL-5A version shown on my web site, at:


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