(What Used to Be) The World's Best US SST Page


The US SST Supersonic Transport Program 1961-1971 RIP

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Compiled by Arthur Hu

Please apologize for broken pictures. The original web server went down in 2001, but I found out that I had forgotten to back up the original site pictures. I am in the process of trying to get access to the original back up files. 9/04

Boeing History, Picture \clip\97\23\sst\sst.html

USA/Supersonic Another great SST page

http://www.pilotfriend.com/ Boeing 2707-200 SST Fixed wing SST mockup
Full size final SST fixed wing mockup, was purchased as a museum, now sitting in a Florida scrap yard, if you want a really big model! Now to be reassembled in Silicon valley according to April Wired.

Specifications: (Boeing 2707 swing wing)

Length: 306 ft (1968) 318 ft (1972)
Wingspan: (1968) 174 ft extended 106 ft swept
Cruising speed: Mach 2.7 or 1,800 mph
Weight: (1968) 675,000 lb Passengers: 300 Altitude: More than 60,000 feet
Power: Four GE4 60,000-pound-thrust afterburning turbojets
Range: Transpacific, 4,000 mi
Cost: if Uncle Sam can't afford it...
Wing Configuration: swing wing engines under pivot / nope, let's move the engine to the tail and blend the swing wing into a delta / oops, needs a canard at the nose / ummm, no way we're going to make this light enough to fly 500 miles, forget the whole swing wing thing and do a tailed delta


The late 1960s were a time of no limits. TV shows like Johnny Quest and Thunderbirds showed airplanes that could take up and land straight up and down, fighters and bombers like the SR-71 and XB-70 were breaking the Mach 3, the X-15 was breaking Mach 5 barrier, the C-5A Galaxy and 747 Jumbo Jet pushed the limits of size, while Apollo was sending people to the moon. Heck, they even created a jet backpack. What more logical project than a supersonic transport?

Well as it turned out, if the moon shot was the shining aerospace success of the 60s, the SST was the massive belly flop that most have forgotten. Yes, we could put a man on the moon, but we couldn't build an economical SST by the end of the decade, and certainly not one with cool swing wings. But perhaps we can learn a lot from such a massive mistake. Today, a Concord now relagated as an obsolete museum piece sits across the street from the plant dedicated to building the American SST, replaced by fat fuel efficient planes. And while the Concord might well have ultimately been a commercial failure, it laid the mold for Anglo-French cooperation that led to the Airbus which had passed Boeing at the turn of the millenium in terms of numbers of new plane orders.

In the beginning, NASA, and the various airplane companies were all mulling SST ideas in the 1961-1962 time frame. Then Britain and France announced they would build their Concorde. This annoyed the Americans enough that the President hastily announced government support for an SST program. North American had a design based loosely on the B-70, while General Dynamics leveraged the B-58 Hustler. It was Boeing and Lockheed, along with engine makers General Electric and Pratt Whitney were named the initial winners in the SST contest. Not to be outdone, the American SST would be larger and faster, flying at M2.7. The heat that would be generated would made it neccesary to use titanium, a very difficult metal to work with, while the Concord was aluminum.

It made national headlines when Boeing won the contract with an innovative swing wing design over the Lockheed L-2000 which had a more conservative fixed dual-delta design. Lockheed claimed their design was lighter, simpler, and was the ideal for slow or fast speeds. The high sweep section kicked in at high mach, while the big delta was good for slow speeds, like the SR-71. As late as Oct 1966, the Life magazine article gave the edge to the lighter Lockheed design. Perhaps the fact that it looked like an American Concorde was a big psychic factor in the selection process

L-2000 3-view

Huge 2-3 million dollar full sized mockups were built of both designs. The Lockheed mockup had only one wing, but the Boeing mockup was of the entire plane, swing wings and all.

Boeing mockup

A life sized side view of the the Boeing design long graced the side of one of the Seattle buildings, where you can see where it was removed. Thanks to Steven Jones of Vaisala Soundings for this picture!

After losing out out the F-111, B-1, and SST, Boeing never did build a built a supersonic manned airplane (the F- 99 Bomarc was an impressive ramjet powered Mach 3.5 long-range missle) After it acquired McDonnell Douglas, it won a bid for the JSF but still lost in the infamous ugly duckling vs. mini-F22 flyoff. Nevertheless, the SST was the inspiration for the name of the then-new basketball team, the Supersonics, now known more appropriately as the "Sonics".

The Boeing design evolved from the 733 model with engines in circular pods under the roots of a swept back main wing. It actually looks strikingly like the first Rockwell version of the B-1, which also had a low horizontal tail. It was designed in the late 1960s. It was claimed that it would land at a shallow enough angle that it would not need a droop nose.

Boeing also had proposed a swing-wing F-111 with intake stuck above the cockpit, but lost out to General Dynamics. That's another 60s engineering disaster story told elsewhere.

It went through a major evolution the better known design 2707-100. Ironically, it ended up looking almost like the Lockheed design with engines moved to under the tail, wings folded into a large single Lockeed like delta wing, somewhat like General Dynamics F-111 design, and Lockheed's droop nose for landing and takeoff. It featured massive use of flaps. Flaps were even in an opening between the pivoted front wing and tail section, and a double jointed droop nose for landing. This would be the winning design with GE engines.

It was to be built mostly of titanium in order to sustain speeds of M2.7, nearly Mach 3. That was a faster speed than aluminum Mach 2.5 fighters like the F-4 Phantom. It was large enough to theoretically make money where the slower Mach 2 european Concorde was an iffy proposition, though the 4,000 mile range was about the same.

The design grew heavier and more complex, sprouting canards. This "final" design was called the 2707-200. When it came time to actually the a design they could do tooling with Boeing realized they had a big problem. They asked the FAA for more time when they found they couldn't deliver the range with the weight a swing wing needed compared to a fixed wing.

So after all the fuss about the winning swing design, it was abandoned entirely, and a fixed delta was adopted. It was said that the pivot had to be placed "too far out" to make it practical, even though the B-1 would be a workable design based on the original 733 layout. The B-1 usually flies as subsonic speeds. The original B-1A was designed for Mach 2 dash, but the B-1B was speed limited to just over Mach 1 for cheaper fixed intakes, and stealth.

Delta Airlines Artist Conception of swing wing 2707 design

Unlike the L-2000, it had a tail like many fighters. It was said to have a little more drag at top speed, but a little less at transonic and better landing characteristics (see pictures at top). This was called the 2707-300 design. The Boeing SST was one of the first swing wing designs to change to a fixed wing. After the MRCA Tornado and B-1, no new plane would adopt this design due to weight and complexity compared with fixed wings that worked nearly as well.

Market projections were for as many as 500 SSTs, it was thought that the jumbo jets would be made obsolete and suitable only for cargo duty. It was said that most adults would need to cross the oceans all the time. The idea was the the government would subsidize the development, but would be paid back plus a 10% return on the basis of profits generated by the SST.

The project was cancelled by the government late in 1971. The arguments ran from it would destroy the ozone layer, increase skin cancer in caucasians by 10% to sonic booms would be a nuisance (it was already determined it would fly only over water) it would be too noisy. People questioned the need for such a plane that couldn't pay for itself when every other airliner project was privately funded. Americans basically didn't care if the Russians or the British beat us to an SST. Others said we should let the Europeans prove they can make a profit then we could go in.

One critic said the SST would bring Boeing to bankruptcy. Well, Boeing still survives, but the cancellation brought on Seattle's worst recession in recent memory. It culminated with the famous "will the last person leaving Seattle please turn off the lights" sign. My father worked on the SST project, but was kept on other chemistry projects. When the energy crisis when even the Navy's Blue Angels gave up on supersonic planes for a while, and the Air Force trade in their guzzling Phantoms for cute little T-38 trainers.

The 747 would take years before that investment paid off, while Lockheed and McDonell Douglas knocked each other out over the L-1011 and DC-10 which served nearly the same market.

Today, only the M2 mostly aluminum Concorde soldiers on as a niche aircraft on the transatlantic run. Ironically, the "plane of the future" is now one of the oldest aircraft still flying from the 1970s. The Russian TU-144 aircraft, dubbed "Concordski" were withdrawn after a short time after crashes and problems.

Will there ever be a next generation SST? Not in the forseeable future, since almost any point on the globe is reachable in at most a day, there's just not that much point to getting there in half the time using twice the gas, especially if you can't travel over land.

NASA has been playing with concepts, check out http://www.larc.nasa.gov/photos/ and http://www.lerc.nasa.gov/WWW/HSR/ It's the NASA Langley research photo archives. Punch in "models" or "wind tunnel models" and the pics should pop up. Another name for the program was HSCT--High Speed Civil Transport.

The Boeing SST is probably the most popular subject of models and toys of any plane that was not actually built.

The following post is the best description of the various SST models that were made:

>Were there any kits made of the old Boeing SST that never made it off the drawing boards?

Revell 2-Ship Swing Wing

The Revell kit was issued (in the USA) twice. The first issue included markings for a yellow and white Boeing prototype and a later issue (1969) included Pan Am markings. Both kits were reissued in the late 1970's by Lodela (Revell Mexico).

The Revell kit is well worth having if you can find one. It is by far the most impressive Boeing SST kit with a length of 18 inches. Value: $75+ open $120 sealed. A Sealed pan-am kit went for $207 12/99

In addition to the Revell kit; Monogram, Lindberg, and Entex also produced Boeing SST models.

Monogram Canard Swing-Wing Model

click to view Box Art by "The Boxart Den" at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Box-Art The Monogram kit was small scale (about 1/400) and sold for $1.30 back in 1969 (I believe). It had movable variable geometry wings, canards (2707- 200 too-heavy version) and no landing gear (display stand only). The markings were for United Airlines. This kit was last available (reboxed in 1973) in the mid-70's. The original box featured a nice painting, a later version was just a photo of the model.

Lindberg 2707-100

Lindberg produced a series of even smaller scale SST kits which included the Concorde, TU-144 (double engine nacelle), and the Boeing SST in its competition winning delta winged configuration with American Airlines markings. These kits were about 1/600 scale and sold for about $0.70. They were produced around 1972 and were available for only a few years. Value $35-60

Entex 1/600 Fixed-Wing 2707

Entex produced the smallest scale Boeing SSTs (fixed delta-wing) in the mid-70s. The model itself was about 4 inches long and included Pan Am markings. The model was identified on the box as the Boeing 2707. I believe this kit sold for less than $1.00 Value: $15-$35 MIB

posted by
Martin Sagara                                "Never before have so many,
Research Associate                            understood so little,
Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum   about so much"
Hangar No. 1, Old Lowry AFB
Denver, Colorado  USA                         James Burke speaking about
(303) 360-5360                                technology in "Connections"
Visit our web site at http://www.dimensional.com/~worm

Zylmex Die Cast

Zylmex produced a small die-cast of the 1968 prototype with folding wings but no canard in Pan Am markings. Value $25 loose - $40 MOC

Lockheed TWA SST Model

Sold for $250 picture

Metal 733 Model

Ebay 1999

Tin battery powered SST

Tin swing-wing SST picture by tempdsn@gdi.net

More notes

Tin battery powered 2707-300 SST



Aircraft by John W.R. Taylor 1967

This 1967 book has a rare picture ofthe 2 Boeing SST swing wing models. Note notches in fixed portion of wing for maximum length of flap area and leading edge slats. I'll sell my copy of this book for $35.00, plus neat shots of the XC-142 and Mirage III-V v/stol. History of aircraft up to "present" = 1967 Gemini F-111 Concorde

Click for larger pictures

Flight Simulator Models

proposes to build model fixed wing already built

Life Oct 28, 1966

October 28, 1966 LIFE MAGAZINE. As appeared in ebay listing. As might be expected, the cover is about the Vietnam war. Aviation buffs will be interested in what is inside. however: FOURTEEN PAGES about the $50 billion race to build the first supersonic transports! There are LARGE color pictures of Boeing's mock-up, the early stages of the CONCORDE and Lockheed's proposed entry...this is a great behind-the-scenes look at some avaition history that didn't play out quite as well as expected. Value - $16.00

Race for the SST Life Magazine mr 14 '69

Ebay: promotional packet

16 MM promo film (ebay)

I now have VHS dubs of this film

8 mm Fairchild 400 MoviePak, 8mm with sound stripe. Boeing Manufacturing Research & Development Organization. "SST Manufacturing Technology".

Cufflinks and 3 postcards $26.00 SST Cufflink/Tie $35.50 11/00

Looking for Boeing FRSST shop badge pin

z48\clipim\2001\02\16\sstprint\sstprint.htm 24.5x29" print of swing wing canary

Aviation Week & Other Magazines

The Seattle Public library and many other city and college libraries may have old copies of this great magazine. The best chronology of the SST are in the gold old fat green books - the Readers Guide under Airplanes, Supersonic, there are about 1 or 2 pages on the SST for every year, if your library has them going back that far. This was a big national issue like the space program, except that everybody (or at least fat cat expense account travelers) would be able to ride in the SST.

See bunch of magazine pictures of various types of SST


Supersonic Aircraft Design

The US SST Program

Walter C. Swan, "A Review of the Configuration Development of the US
Supersonic Transport," Paper 17, 11th Anglo-American Aeronautical
Conf., London, Sept. 1969. 

-, "Design Development of the Boeing SST," Interavia, 12/1969, pp.
1911-1913. A good overview of the change in the design

from variable- to fixed-sweep by an impartial writer. Good figures
and tables and a list of Boeing's design criteria. 

Walter C.Swan, "Design Evolution of the Boeing 2707-300 Supersonic
Transport, Pt. I, Configuration Development, Aerodynamics,
Propulsion, and Structures," AGARD CP 147, Oct. 1973. 

W.T. Kehrer, "Design Evolution of the Boeing 2707-300 Supersonic
Transport, Pt. II, Design Impact of Handling Qualities

Criteria, Flight Control System Concepts, and Aeroelastic Effects on
Stability and Control," AGARD CP 147, Oct. 1973. 

Mel Horwitch, Clipped Wings: The American SST Conflict, The MIT
Press, Cambridge, 1982. This explains the programmatic, political and
social history. (contains an extensive bibliography, citing many of
the Av. Wk. and other stories). 

The Lockheed entry is discussed in the following references: 

-, "Evolution of the Lockheed Supersonic Transport," Issue #1, Spring
1965, Lockheed Horizons Magazine. 

William M. Magruder, Richard Foss, Irving Litrownik, and D.R. Wyrick,
"Low- Speed Characteristics of the Double-delta

SST," Issue #1, Spring 1965, Lockheed Horizons Magazine. 

-, "Mach Three Technology, Lockheed's Supersonic Transport, Part 1 -
The Background; Aerodynamics; Propulsion; Airframe Structure," Flight
International, 20 January 1966, and "Part 2-Thermal Management, Fuel,
Flying Control, Hydraulic and Electrical Systems," Flight
International, 27 January 1966. 

R. Richard Heppe and Channing R. Englebry, "Supersonic Transport
Design Evolution," Issue #5, 2nd Quarter, 1966,

Lockheed Horizons Magazine. 

Nathan Shapiro and S. Sherman Edwards, "Noise and the SST," Issue #5,
2nd Quarter, 1966, Lockheed Horizons Magazine. 

Jim R. Thompson and John E. Parnell, "Sonic Boom and the SST," Issue
#5, 2nd Quarter, 1966, Lockheed Horizons