The supersonic VJ 101C, built by the German EWR ("Consortium") of Messerschmitt, Heinkel and Bölkow, employed a lift plus lift/cruise propulsion concept, powered by six Rolls-Royce/MTU RB.145 turbojet engines. Two of these engines were mounted in tandem aft of the cockpit; the other four engines were in pairs in wingtip swivelling nacelles. On the second of the two experimental aircraft, the VJ 101C X2, the wingtip mounted engines were equipped with afterburners which increased their available thrust from 2,750 to 3,650 pounds each.
The first VJ 101C hovering flight occurred on 10 April 1963, and the first horizontal takeoff was accomplished on 31 August 1963. A double transition (vertical takeoff through conventional flight followed by a vertical landing) was achieved on the sixth flight on 20 September 1963. The non-afterburning X1 became the world's first supersonic V/STOL aircraft in July 1964 when it broke the sound barrier in a shallow dive. This aircraft was lost in an accident on 14 September 1964. This occurred when the aircraft became uncontrollable immediately after a horizontal takeoff. The pilot ejected at an altitude of ten feet during an uncommanded roll. He survived but suffered crushed vertebrae. The accident was found to have been caused by a roll-rate gyro which had been installed with reversed polarity. Prior to its loss, the VJ 101C X1 had completed 40 aerodynamic flights, 14 full transition flights and the Hannover Air Show presentation on 3 May 1964.
The VJ 101C X2 flew its first hovering free flights on 12 June but did not attempt to use its afterburning capabilities for vertical takeoffs until 10 October 1964; within two weeks, the VJ 101C X2 demonstrated complete transitions from vertical to horizontal flight and back to a vertical landing using afterburning. It suffered from high temperature and erosion issues, and crashed when it ingested hot exhaust gases and suffered a significant thrust loss while attempting to land on an elevated platform. The rotating nacelle design was abandoned, and the proposed follow-on, the VJ 101D, dispensed with the wingtip-mounted engines but retained the lift plus lift/cruise propulsion concept. Its use of RB.162 five lift engines and two aft fuselage RB.153 lift/cruise engines (with internal thrust deflectors) was very complex and the VJ 101D was canceled after engine testing had begun.
Source: AHS V/STOL Wheel