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In the early 1950s, the British Admiralty issued Naval Air Staff Target NAST 39, which laid out the service's requirements for a two-seat, carrier-based attack bomber for service at the end of the decade. This requirement was met, in 1955, by the brilliantly conceived and executed Blackburn/Hawker-Siddeley Buccaneer. But the Buccaneer was not the only response to the Navy's call. Nor was it the most innovative, despite its many advanced features. That distinction goes to one of the proposals that went unfunded, Short's radical, tailless PD.13.

The PD.13 offered too many advanced features to be successful, in fact. These innovations introduced clear risks without offering equally clear advantages. Tailless aircraft had a largely disastrous record at the time (witness the Dh.113). Jet deflection was a complete unknown that might cause all sorts of fatigue, deck handling, and stability problems. The tip controllers, though arguably advantageous for a high-altitude fighter, offered no real advantages in a strike airplane operating at sea level. , There were (and still are) doubts about the real efficacy of aero-isoclinic wing design, particularly since more conventional solutions (such as inboard ailerons slab tailplanes) were by now well-proven. Given the success of the less-radical but still very advanced Buccaneer, all this was enough to doom Shorts efforts. Please click here to ask a question
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  • Seller location: Christchurch City, Canterbury, NZ

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