Osprey's Big Reveal: X-Planes

In Military History

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In today’s instalment of the Big Reveal, we’re looking at what’s to come in our X-Planes series. 2017 has already seen two new X-Planes titles, with TSR2 and Bell X-2 still to come, but what’s in store for 2018?

North American XB-70 Valkyrie

Of the many futuristic military aircraft concepts created in the 1950s, the North American XB-70 still stands out as the most awe-inspiring. With its huge, white, partially-folding delta wing, its fuselage that resembled a striking cobra and its extraordinary performance, it was one of the foremost technological achievements of the 20th century.

A strategic bomber built to outrun any Soviet fighter jet, it could reach Mach 3 with a full nuclear payload – as fast as the legendary SR-71 Blackbird, despite being more than three times the size. However, its usefulness as a nuclear bomber was limited by the introduction of ICBMs, and the Soviet Union’s development of high-altitude surface-to-air missiles meant it was no longer invulnerable, despite its speed and ceiling. Two prototypes were built and undertook a high-speed NASA test programme in the 1960s, one being destroyed in a crash that killed former X-15 test pilot Joe Walker, before the hugely expensive project finally ended.

Bachem Ba 349 Natter

The Bachem Ba 349 Natter was Germany’s secret, vertically launched, single-seat rocket interceptor intended to offer high-speed defence of key targets. This radical aircraft, somewhat like a manned surface-to-air missile, offered the Luftwaffe an inexpensive chance to intercept and attack Allied heavy bombers with a semi-expendable machine built of wood and armed with a nose-mounted ‘honeycomb’ battery of spin-stabilised air-to-air rockets as well as cannon. Launched vertically at 36,000ft per minute, the pilot was expected to fly to within range of the enemy bombers, fire his rockets at them, ram another bomber, eject and parachute to the ground. However, the only test-launch in spring 1945 resulted in the death of the pilot, and further development was cut short by the end of the war.

This study examines this inventive but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to defend Germany against the tide of Allied aircraft that was bombing German cities into the ground.

Dornier Do 335

One of several Dornier designs to feature a push-pull power configuration, with a forward engine driving a tractor propeller and an aft engine driving a pusher, the Do 335 was conceived as a high-speed, all-weather fighter, representing the pinnacle of piston-engined aircraft design. Indeed, had jet engine technology not emerged, the Do 335 would probably have set the way forward for future development of piston-engined aircraft.

The Do 335 was a big aircraft, weighing just over 10,000kg when laden with fuel, equipment and pilot, yet powered by two Daimler-Benz DB 603 engines, it was capable of reaching a maximum speed of 750km/h at 6,400m, making it the fastest piston-engined aircraft produced in Germany during World War II.

Some 40 aircraft were built between late 1943 and the end of the war, and it was intended to deploy the type as a day fighter, bomber, night fighter, bad-weather interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft, all of which were intended to incorporate the latest armament, bomb sights, communications and radar equipment, as well as an ejector seat.

A handful were finished before the end of the war, and some Tempest and Mustang pilots claimed to have encountered Do 335s in April 1945, though without catching one.


Which of these will be joining your collection next year? Let us know in the comments section below.


Post Comments

Hessy Field posted on 17 Aug 2017 15:21:26
I admit that 'X-Planes' doesn't really do it for me - I prefer to know about what actually entered combat and/or service rather than "what if's" even if there is an interesting developmental history. However, I do agree with the comments about the preponderance of American and WWII German subject matter and the apparent consequences that had for the Air Vanguard series with an over-reliance on supposed 'safe' titles.

One title I would like to see - German but pre-war - is on the Heinkel He 112, a competitor to the Bf 109 Messerschmitt and regarded by many as a superior aircraft; it was certainly more elegant and had a faster air speed. I believe about twenty were completed and it did see combat - albeit briefly - in WWII when a Spanish-flown example shot down a P-38 that had strayed into Spanish airspace.
Robert @ Osprey posted on 17 Aug 2017 14:23:10

Thank you everyone for the comments.

DUE 68: 'RAF Fighters vs Luftwaffe Bombers: Battle of Britain' will be featured in our Duel Big Reveal. As we've mentioned in previous blog posts, this title has been delayed due to an illness in the author's family, and we're doing everything we can to ensure this is published next year.


kuvaszsleepybear posted on 16 Aug 2017 08:03:17
Avro Arrow Avro Arrow Avro Arrow!!!
Carl(Sweden) posted on 16 Aug 2017 07:42:53
Big Reveal tends to drag out, 2015 it ended 3 Sep, and 2016 it ended 23 September and with this pace it will drag out even further. Please quicken the pace a bit
KenA posted on 16 Aug 2017 01:04:43
I have to say that I am in sympathy with the views of AdamC and Painty on this one. The net needs to be spread wider than the USA and WWII Germany for XPL titles. Of the three scheduled for 2018, only the two German titles have appeal to me, especially the Dornier one.

Question time. What’s the bet that when the Big Reveal list for Duel titles for 2018 comes out that it will have on it DUE 68: RAF Fighters vs Luftwaffe Bombers: Battle of Britain by Andy Saunders. This title was originally going to be published in mid-2015 and has since had a case of the pre-publication jitters. Or will Osprey say nothing about it in the hope that we won’t notice? Osprey’s catalogue shows it as due for publication in December 2017 but already Amazon are showing it as October 2018!

Question Two. Will Robert @Osprey be able to drag out the 2018 Big Reveal so that it extends right through into October?
Paintybeard posted on 15 Aug 2017 21:21:46
Totally agree with AdamC: These are good titles but PLEASE spread your net a bit wider, Osprey. Soviet Ekranoplan for 2019!
AdamC posted on 15 Aug 2017 15:25:04
OK chaps firstly I’d say three really interesting looking titles in their own right and certainly valid additions to this still very new series but…

Secondly I’d say please, please, please add a bit of diversity into this series. Come the end of 2018 there will be only one title (ONE TITLE!!!) that isn't either American or WWII German. Yes I know you need to put out some “safe” titles early door, yes I know you are largely author submission driven and yes I know American and WWII German titles sell well in the States but didn't we go down this route with Air Vanguard??? Wasn't lack of diversity of topic one of the nails in its coffin??? Please be careful here, I quite like the X-Planes series and would hate to see it flounder.

In conclusion I have no problem with these three titles and will probably pick up the two Luftwaffe ones but please try and branch out into other nationalities and periods lest readers loose interest.

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