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Meet the Grumman X-29: The Experimental ‘Backwards’ Plane

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To say the Grumman has a unique appearance is a true understatement. Developed as a technology demonstrator in the latter years of the Cold War in the 1980s, it featured forward- – almost to the point that it looks as if its wings were put on backward.

Yet, the concept wasn’t entirely new, as the United States and Nazi Germany had each experimented with forward-swept wings during the Second World War. Development wasn’t easy, as both nations’ engineers encountered several problems – notably metal wings could bend dangerously, especially at higher speeds – while an aircraft with forward-swept wings proved to be far from easy to fly.

In the case of the X-29, the problems were so great that the designers came close to throwing in the towel.

However, they pressed on, and it became the first aircraft with such a unique wing design to fly supersonically. Unlike the Nazis,

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