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The Martin XB-51 was an unusual ground-attack plane, and one of the most highly advanced aircraft at the time of its first flight in 1949. Two jet engines were carried in pods near the nose and a third was buried aft under the tail. The pilot could vary the thin wing's angle of incidence in the air, making takeoffs and landings easier. The variable-incidence wing allowed a very long fuselage which carried two bomb bays, all fuel tanks, and the bicycle-style landing gear. Spoilers on each wing replaced conventional ailerons, allowing the use of full-span flaps for safer landings. The XB-51 was fast, maneuverable, and delightful to fly, but it lost an acquisition competition to the British-designed B-57 Canberra.


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