Miles M-52 first flight


The design of the Miles M-52 started in 1942. The goal was to design an aircraft that could fly with a speed in excess of 1.000mph. In 1946 the first prototype was ready for testing. RAE test pilot Eric Brown was selected as the test pilot.

Although the M-52 was capable of taking off under its own power, it was decided that for the high speed test flight the aircraft would be carried to an altitude of 15.000ft on top of a converted Lancaster bomber. Thus less fuel was needed and the aircraft could be kept at a lower weight.

After a number of unpowered tests in August 1946 the first powered test was carried out on the 4th of October 1946. The aircraft proved to be difficult to fly but remained stable throughout the flights.

On the 21st of November the M-52 broke through the sound barrier, achieving a speed of 1158km/h or Mach 1,09. Early 1947 the first prototype was followed by two more aircraft. During 1947 and 1948 all three aircraft broke through the sound barrier. The fastest flight was made by the second prototype on the 5th of July 1948, achieving Mach 1,32.

At the same time the US was testing the Bell X-1 aircraft which was also designed to break through the sound barrier. Because of control problems the US aircraft however only achieved this goal in October 1947.

The big difference between the M-52 and the X-1 was that the British aircraft was powered by a jet engine fitted with an afterburner. The X-1 was powered by a rocket engine.


Last updated: 02/11/2013