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North American X-15 Owner’s Workshop Manual

26 February 2016

New Haynes North American X-15 Manual speeds onto bookshelves

Despite an incredible 48 years passing since the iconic North American X-15 rocket plane was retired in 1968, this much-revered aircraft still holds the world record for the highest speed ever attained by a manned aircraft at 4,520mph (Mach 6.72).

Taking aviation, space and modelling enthusiasts behind the scenes of the X-15, which was flown by elite test pilots including the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong, Haynes has published the North American X-15 Owner’s Workshop Manual.

Written by respected author Dr David Baker, a space exploration historian and former engineer on NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Shuttle projects, this new Haynes manual offers fascinating technical insight into the development and use of rocket planes.

The North American X-15 Owner’s Workshop Manual focuses on the iconic X-15 that was used for much of the development work for the Apollo and Space Shuttle manned spaceflight programmes. The X-15 made 199 flights between 1959 and 1968, several of which were above the line considered to be the arbitrary altitude where space begins.

Talking about the rocket plane, Dr Baker says: “The X-15 is the only piloted aircraft to have been flown routinely on hypersonic research flights to the edge of space, and to speeds in excess of Mach 6.

“As an example of the ‘can-do’ attitude of the 1960s, its achievements stand alongside those of NASA’s pioneering space missions, which gathered greater publicity and popular acclaim. But the less-publicised X-15 story is an outstanding example of aeronautical design and engineering excellence, matched by the piloting skills of an elite group of men who took it to the previously unchartered boundaries of hypersonic flight.

Dr Baker continues: “An important aspect of the story is the way in which systems developed for the X-15 were applied to manual spacecraft developed by NASA from 1958. These include the use of telemetry to transmit live data real-time, the design of the side-stick controller for attitude orientation, the use of thrusters for stability outside the atmosphere and the integrated use of a mission management concept which formed the basis for controlling the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo flights of the 1960s.”

Providing a description of the background to the X-15’s conception and the way it was built and operated, a major section of the North American X-15 Owner’s Workshop Manual provides a working description of how the X-15 was designed. It also gives an explanation of the technologies specifically developed for this aircraft. The text explains the engineering principles involved in design and manufacture of the X-15 and of the two different types of rocket motor with which it was powered.

Detailed photographs, cutaway drawings, diagrams and charts illustrate key features, systems, elements and equipment.

The story of the X-15 includes the Dyna-Soar (a contraction of ‘dynamic soaring’), conceived as a successor to the X-15. It was to have been capable of bridging the flight regime from Mach 7 (of the X-15) to orbital flight, before it was downgraded to become the X-20 research project, which was then shelved in 1963. Also described are the still-born concepts, including the two-seat X-15B, and variants which could have carried a delta-wing or been equipped to carry a rocket to launch satellites into orbit.

Comprehensive appendices include tables with detailed specifications for the X-15, and a list of pilots and their flight totals, as well as a complete log of all 199 flights, together with altitude, speed and Mach number achieved.

Author Dr David Baker is available for further comment and media interview.

North American X-15 Owner’s Workshop ManualNorth American X-15 Owner’s Workshop Manual is available from and is priced at £25.
The book number is H5767, ISBN: 9780857337672.


The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR

Haynes Publishing has been the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car manuals and motorcycle manuals since 1965. In that time Haynes has evolved and so have its Manuals to now include a wide range of automotive, sport, leisure, military and lifestyle subjects. Haynes also has licenses to publish Manuals with NASA, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, Star Wars, Star Trek and others.Haynes publishing also offers its more recent car and motorcycle manuals through online subscription, Manuals Online was launched in 2010 and offers colour imagery, video and is accessible through computer or tablet via an internet connection. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Telephone: 01963 440635 Fax: 01963 440001 E-mail: