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Ryan X-13 Vertijet

Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft

Ryan X-13 Vertijet

Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft


Only two prototypes of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet existed, both now museum pieces.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1953
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
OPERATORS: United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Ryan X-13 Vertijet model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 23.43 feet (7.14 meters)
WIDTH: 21.00 feet (6.4 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.16 feet (4.62 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 5,344 pounds (2,424 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 7,214 pounds (3,272 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engine developing 10,000 lb of thrust.
SPEED (MAX): 348 miles-per-hour (560 kilometers-per-hour; 302 knots)
RANGE: 191 miles (307 kilometers; 166 nautical miles)
CEILING: 20,013 feet (6,100 meters; 3.79 miles)


Series Model Variants
• X-13 - Produced in two prototype forms; 54-1619 and 54-1620; both reside in US museums.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Ryan X-13 Vertijet Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/4/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The Ryan X-13 "Vertijet" was an experimental program of the 1950s funded by the United States Air Force to help test the validity of an aircraft that could takeoff vertically, achieve horizontal flight and land vertically - all under turbojet power. In 1947, the Bureau of Aeronautics - under the banner of the United States Navy - contracted Ryan Aeronautical to oversee development of such an airframe for use aboard American submarines. Ryan delivered promising results with ensuing trials of a tethered test and a flying design. By this time, the United States Air Force became interested in the Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) concept and contracted Ryan Aeronautical to produce a pair of prototypes under the designation of "X-13".

Development of the X-13 centered around a single-seat, single-engine airframe that could be launched from a specially designed launched trailer. The trailer bed could be raised to a vertical position and become a launch tower for the aircraft. From this position, the pilot could then guide the X-13 upwards and away from the tower, achieve a sustainable altitude and roll forwards to achieve horizontal flight. The X-13 could then be guided back from its horizontal status to a vertical one, set against the launch tower and brought to rest., completing the full flight cycle.

First flight of the X-13 was on December 10th, 1955 and this prototype was equipped with a temporary tricycle landing gear for she was intended to test only conventional flight characteristics before the program progressed to the VTOL stage. A temporary rig was then installed at the tail section before a May 28th, 1956 flight that saw the X-13 achieve full vertical flight while testing hover capabilities of the airframe and engine. It was not until April 11th, 1957 that the X-13 went on to complete its first full-cycle flight - that is, the X-13 launched from a vertical position, achieved horizontal flight and returned to its launch tower in a vertical landing. This feat occurred out of Edwards Air Force Base in California and consisted of several minutes of horizontal flight. The X-13 was publicly demonstrated in July of 1957 when a prototype flew over the Potomac River and came to rest on the Pentagon grounds.

Despite the promising nature of the X-13 project and all of its technological gains, the United States Air Force elected not to pursue the design for it lacked any requirement at the time that called for such an aircraft. Regardless, the Ryan X-13 Vertijet proved the concept sound and it was not until the British completed their long-term development of their own VTOL design that would become the "Harrier" jump jet that the dedicated VTOL aircraft was truly realized.

The X-13 prototypes showcased a length of 23 feet, 5 inches with a wingspan equal to 21 feet. Height was 15 feet, 2 inches. When empty, the X-13 displaced at 5,334lbs and 6,730lbs when full. Maximum take-off weight was in the vicinity of 7,200lbs. Power was supplied by a British Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet engine delivering up to 10,000lbf of thrust. This supplied the airframe with a maximum speed of up to 350 miles per hour and a range of 192 miles. Service ceiling was limited to 20,000 feet. Pitch and yaw was handled by the vectored engine design while "puffer" jets installed at the wing tips controlled roll.

Externally, the Ryan X-13 displayed a unique appearance as a rather squat, delta-winged creation. The wings sat high above the stubby fuselage and extended from rear of the cockpit to the engine exhaust ring. At the ends of each wing were vertical fins. The engine was buried within the oblong, tubular fuselage with intake openings to either side of the cockpit. The cockpit was situated well ahead in the fuselage and sported a framed canopy with good look-down capability over the nose and to the sides of the aircraft. Seating was for a single operator. A rod was installed in the nose to facilitate vertical alignment of the aircraft with the respective launch tower. The empennage was dominated by a single large vertical tail fin. As the X-13 was intended for vertical flight, the finalized prototype forms lacked a conventional undercarriage and instead made use of a hook-type installation under the nose and a framework of struts under the airframe body. Both assemblies were used to hold the X-13 against the launch tower/carriage when set to vertically launch or land.

The pair of completed prototypes were retired for museum use with the first (54-1619) being displayed at the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the second (54-1620) shipped to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. The latter prototype was the Vertijet that successfully completed the full-cycle flight and arrived at the museum in 1959.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (348mph).

Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Ryan X-13 Vertijet's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (2)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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