Short SC.1

Work began in 1954 to design a test aircraft that could demonstrate the utility of the recently developed Rolls-Royce RB.108 lift engine, producing 2,130 lb thrust each (a thrust to weight of 8:1). The Short Brothers SC.1 was powered by four RB.108 lift engines vertically mounted on gimbals in the center fuselage and one RB.108 cruise engine in the rear for forward flight. Ground carts were used to spin the lift engines up to speed for take-off; for landing, cruise engine bleed air was used. The SC.1 was designed to study hover, transition and low-speed flight, and had a fixed landing gear. Gross weight was 7,700 lb, with a total vertical thrust 8,600 lb. Overall length was 30 ft; the wingspan was 23.5 ft. Bleeds from the four lift engines powered nose, tail and wing tip reaction jets for control at low speeds. First CTOL flight was made on 2 April 1957, first tethered vertical flight was on 26 May 1958, first free vertical flight was on 25 October 1958; first transition was on 6 April 1960. The SC.1 experienced the typical suck-down and hot-gas ingestion problems discovered during V/STOL development programs. It appeared at the Farnborough air show in 1960 and Paris air show in 1961 (for the latter it flew the English Channel both ways). Maximum speed was only about 250 mph due to the low thrust of the single cruise engine. Pilot workload was very high during landing, just when pilot attention was most important. The lift engines had to be started as late as possible, due to the high combined fuel consumption of the five engines. The ignition procedure was very labor intensive, as was transition from wing-borne to jet-borne flight. The second test aircraft crashed on 2 October 1963 due to a controls malfunction, killing the pilot. It was rebuilt and the two aircraft continued to fly until 1967.

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