Fairey Aviation Company Delta 2 (FD.2)

On March 10, 1956 British test pilot Peter Twiss, flying the Fairey Delta 2 research aircraft WG774 broke the world’s air speed record setting a new speed of 1,132 mph.  It became the first aircraft to exceed 1,000 mph in level flight.  This smashed the previous record, held by a USAF F-100 Super Sabre set in 1955 by over 300 mph. 

The design of this supersonic research aircraft featured an ultra-thin delta wing with a circular cross-section fuselage culminating in a needle nose and engine air-inlets blended into the wing roots.   The very long tapering nose obscured forward vision during takeoff and landings necessitating the entire nose section and cockpit dropping 10 degrees, in a similar way the Concord airliner used years later.

This record setting aircraft, the FD.2 WG774, was used by the newly-formed British Aircraft Corporation to supports its involvement in the Anglo-French effort to develop the Concord supersonic airliner.  As a fighter proposal, the FD.2 had enormous potential that was lost to Britain, but was ultimately used to develop the highly successful range of French Mirage fighter aircraft.

The air speed record held by Twiss and the FD.2 was not surpassed until December 1957 when a USAF McDonnell F-101 Voodoo bumped the speed to 1,207 mph and out of Britain’s reach.