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NASA F-8 Supercritical Wing Collection, 1964-1972


Collection Item Summary:

This collection contains documents gathered from Langley Research Center on the development of the supercritical wing concept and the F-8 test bed program. The material primarily consists of notes and reports covering the wind tunnel development, flight testing, and evaluation of the concept. The collection also includes general and press information about the program.

Collection Item Long Description:


  • Vought F-8 (F8U) Crusader Family
  • Aerodynamics, Transonic
  • Transonic wind tunnels
  • Aerodynamics
  • Airplanes--Flight testing
  • Periodicals

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum Archives


No restrictions on access


National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center


  • Whitcomb, Richard 1921-
  • North American Aviation, Inc
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration Langley Research Center

Physical description

5.85 cubic feet (13 legal document boxes) (1 3"x38" tube)


  • 1964
  • 1964-1972


The supercritical wing concept was invented by Dr. Richard Whitcomb (1921- ) to improve air foil efficiency at transonic (Mach .8+) speeds. Following initial design work in 1964, Whitcomb tested the concept in NASA's 8 foot Transonic Dynamics Wind Tunnel at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA (1964-1969). North American then contracted to produce a supercritical wing to be fitted to a Vought F-8 as a flying test bed. Flight testing at Edwards AFB, CA (1971-1972) showed that wind tunnel results for transonic handling were substantially correct and that low speed maneuverability was not impaired. Supercritical wings were also fitted onto a North American T-2 and General Dynamics F-111 aircraft for further flight testing with different wing plans forms and air foil sections.


  • Correspondence
  • Collection descriptions
  • Notes
  • Reports
  • Publications
  • Photographs
  • Drawings
  • Manuscripts

Local number


Finding Aids

Online Finding Aid