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The World's First 10 Supersonic Aircraft

Supersonic aircraft can exceed the speed of sound (Mach 1) in level flight. Here are the first 10 ever made...

1) Bell X-1 (1946)

The Bell X-1 made its first flight in 1946, but didn't go supersonic until 1947. That's when Chuck Yeager famously piloted the X-1 named 'Glamorous Glennis' to Mach 1.06 on October 14, 1947. It was the first manned supersonic flight in the world.


2) Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket (1948)

The Douglas Aircraft Company flew the Skyrocket for the first time in 1948, but it made its most significant history 5 years later. The Skyrocket was the first aircraft to exceed Mach 2 - the flight happened November 20th, 1953.


3) Douglas X-3 Stiletto (1952)

Named after high heels, the Stiletto was the first aircraft to use titanium in major components of its airframe. While the aircraft failed to meet its goal of Mach 2 flight, its wing planform was later used on the F-104 Starfighter.


4) Bell X-2 (1952)

The Bell X-2 was built to test heating and aerodynamic problems beyond what the X-1 was capable of acheiving. The X-2 was the first US aircraft to have a throttleable rocket engine, and in 1956, it set an altitude record of 126,200 feet, and a speed record of Mach 3.2.


5) North American F-100 Super Sabre (1953)

The F-100 was the first US Century Series fighter, as well as the first US fighter jet that could achieve supersonic speeds in level flight. But like many of the first supersonic jets, it faced several design problems, including aggressive pitch-ups due to a lift decrease at the wingtips during slow speed flight.


6) MiG-19 (1953)

The MiG-19 was the Soviet Union's first production jet capable of supersonic speed in level flight. Although it faced many design problems, including high-G pitch-ups when using speed brakes and a lack of elevator authority at supersonic speeds, over 5,500 MiG-19s were produced, making it one of the most produced jets in the world.

7) Convair F-102 Delta Dagger (1953)

The F-102 flew for the first time in 1953, but it couldn't achieve supersonic flight until it received a major redesign using the "area rule" in 1954. The F-102 was the first operational US supersonic interceptor aircraft, designed to intercept invading Soviet bombers. In total, 1,000 Delta Daggers were built.


8) Nord Gerfaut (1954)

This unusual looking aircraft was the first French jet to fly supersonic in level flight. The Nord Gerfaut was a research jet used to study delta a swept wings, as well as air intercept radar.

9) Lockheed F-104 Starfighter (1954)

The famous Starfighter, which was designed by Lockheed's Kelly Johnson, was the first combat aircraft capable of sustained Mach 2 flight.

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10) English Electric Lightning (1954)

The Lightning was an impressive aircraft: it was the only all-British designed aircraft capable of Mach 2, and it was the first jet capable of supercruise.


Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at

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