YC-15 (part 1)


The McDonnell Douglas YC-15 was a prototype developed of the USAF ‘s AMST program in 1972. The competition was the Boeing YC-14.

McDonnell Douglas developed the YC-15 from the Breguet 941s, using extensive wind tunnel testing (for optimum configuration testing) and using Cornell Aeronautical Labs B-26B In-Flight Simulator (for flight control testing).


The aircraft itself is 124.25 feet long, wingspan is 110.36ft, height is 43.30. Max gross weight is 216,680lbs. The interior cargo-box is 47 x 11.8 x 11.4.

Thrust for the YC-15 was provided by the JT8D turbofan (also the DC-9 powerplant) and produced a total thrust of 16,000lbs. The engines were mounted on shallow pylons mounted ahead of the wings leading edge. Thrust reversal was accomplished using so-called “daisy nozzles.” During final approach, with flaps fully extended and facing the engine, the engines provided 54% of the YC-15 lift.

The straight wings consisted of ailerons, double-slotted flaps, leading edge high lift devices (Kruger flaps, etc), and spoilers. The trailing edge devices, flaps and ailerons spanned 75% of the wings trailing edge. The flaps could extend as much as 46 degrees into the downstream. The YC-15 was the first jet powered aircraft to use externally blown flaps (EBF).

YC-15's EBF

Flight controls consisted of the conventional hydraulic system and a stability and control augmentation system (SCAS). The SCAS was dual channel and 3 axis enabling hands off flight for high angle approaches (tactical approaches) and modes for attitude, altitude and heading.

The YC-15 saw the first use of a heads up display (HUD) system, specifically called the VAM (Visual Approach Monitor). Developed by Sundstrand, the VAM displayed the horizon, flight path scale, airspeed indexer and touchdown point.

Sundstrand's VAM display

Being essentially a research airplane, the YC-15 did not need to fully conform to MILSPECS. As such it borrowed components from various aircraft, the DC-10 cockpit enclosure, the F-15 fuel pumps, the C-141 stabilizing struts, the A-10 UARRSI, the C-5 cargo handling equipment and other parts from 9 other types of airplanes. Cockpit instrumentation used components from 10 different airplanes.

Here’s a cutaway of the YC-14 and YC-15 for comparison:


Part 2 will detail the YC-15s flight test program.

Part 3 will detail the YC-15 technological contributions to the C-17.

Cross-posted at The Lexicans

[UPDATE- XBrad] I’ve added Mav as another author here. We’ve got a grunt, a rocket scientist, a Marine Artilleryman, a Chaplain, a Sigo/Civil War historian, and now, an aviator.

3 thoughts on “YC-15 (part 1)”

    1. He just now, 10 minutes ago, posted some good news on forward progress on securing an appointment as a NavChap. It’s not a done deal, but it’s moving forward.

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