The Bell XV-3 was the first successful tilt-rotor aircraft, a direct ancestor of the Bell XV-15 and Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey. It was the first tilt-rotor to perform a full conversion from helicopter mode to airplane mode and back; that is, converting from a helicopter configuration to the relatively higher speeds of an airplane. This was accomplished by rotating (or tilting) its rotors forward. The project was initiated in 1953, and two aircraft were built at the Bell Helicopter facilities in Hurst, Texas (east of Fort Worth). The aircraft's first flight took place on August 11th, 1955. Most of the initial flight testing was conducted in Fort Worth, and the second test article was eventually transferred to NASA for additional flight testing. The aircraft survived its extensive flight test program, which ended in 1966.
The surviving XV-3 was beautifully restored by current and former Bell personnel. The aircraft currently resides at the National Museum of the US Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.
By Erasmo Piñero