The experimental X-15 built by North American Aviation was an astonishing craft. It was both an aircraft and a spaceplane, setting speed and altitude records at the edge of outer space in the 1960s. Such was its performance that some pilots could also hold claim to being astronauts. Even today, the hypersonic X-15 holds the record for the fastest ever manned rocket-powered aircraft at a top speed of Mach 6.32 (a staggering 7,274km/h). It was powered by either two XLR11 or one XLR99 jet engines made by Reaction Motors Inc. To begin its flights, a NASA B-52 would carry the experimental craft aloft before releasing it at an altitude of approximately 14km. Three X-15 aircraft were manufactured and test-flown 199 times, thus creating invaluable data that would help future aircraft and space programs.
Dragon has previously produced an X-15 model (Item No.51022), but this new 1/144 scale item represents the second X-15 prototype. This was the first craft to be flown with the single XLR99-RM-2 liquid-fuel rocket engine that produced 250kN of thrust, its maiden flight occurring on 15 November 1960. The model captures perfectly the cylindrical form of the X-15 with its thick dorsal and ventral stabilizers. It also carries the correct US Air Force (USAF) markings for the craft boasting the serial number ‘56-6671’. Another unique aspect to this new scale model is the retractable landing gear consisting of a nose wheel and two rear skis. This enables owners to depict their X-15 in landing or on-the-ground mode.