In the late 1940s Britain was trailing far behind in supersonic aircraft design. To try to retrieve matters the Ministry of Supply issued a specification for a supersonic research aircraft, and Fairey set about meeting this with a delta-winged aircraft designed for investigation into flight and control at transonic and supersonic speeds.
The final design was a single-seat, delta-winged aircraft powered by a Rolls-Royce Avon engine with an afterburner. The aircraft was named the Fairey Delta 2, or FD2. To improve the pilot’s forward view during landing, taxiing and take-off, the cockpit and nose section could be hinged downwards by ten degrees. A similar feature was used on Concorde.
Fairey test-pilot Peter Twiss flew the first FD2, WG774, on its maiden flight on 6 October 1954. On the 10 March 1956 an attempt was made on the World Air Speed Record, which Twiss broke by more than 483kph (300mph). The new record was 1820kph (1132mph) – quite an achievement considering the old record had only been set the previous year by an American F100 Super Sabre.
This aircraft is the second of only two FD2s built.