In the late 1940's, the Royal Navy investigated the design of a flexible “sprung” rubber deck for an aircraft carrier on which an aircraft could land on the underside of its fuselage, without the need for an energy absorbing undercarriage. It was hoped that in addition to reducing the over weight by up to 7%, it would also decrease the number of accidents during landings.
Supermarine produced a design to meet this requirement, designated Type 505 with a thin, straight wing and a V-tail powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines mounted on the fuselage sides.
In 1948 however, the Admiralty has second thoughts and a decision was made to fit a tricycle undercarriage instead, resulting in the Type 508 built to Specification N.9/47.
The first Type 508 (VX133) made its maiden flight from Boscombe Down on 31st August 1951 before carrying out further carrier-trials aboard HMS Eagle.
A second prototype (VX136) flew on 29th August 1952. In addition to a slightly larger tailcone to accomodate the proposed tail-warning radar, it carried the planned cannon armament and was significantly different enough to be designated Type 529.
Both the 508 and 529 featured straight-wing configurations and as predicted their speed was relatively modest at 607mph. By the time the first prototypes had flown it had already been decided that a swept wing version would be needed.
The planned third prototype was redesigned with swept wings and designated Type 525, this being the immediate progenitor of the Supermarine Scimitar.
Sadly the only 525 was lost in a crash but the design had proved successful enough to lead into the production of the much developed Type 544.
|Powerplant||Two 6,500 lb thrust Rolls-Royce Avon RA.3|
|Span||41 ft 0 in|
|Maximum Weight||Not available|
|Capacity and armament||Single pilot, four 30 mm cannon (Type 529)|
|Maximum Speed||Approx 600 mph|
|Type 508||One (VX133)|
|Type 529||One (VX136)|
No aircraft survive - believed to have been scrapped in the fire pits at RNAS Predannack.