Where’s the pilot?  Well, maybe it’s not a plane.  Maybe it’s a missile of some sort.  But then, where’s the warhead?

You’re looking at a G.H. Davis cutaway drawing, 1956, of a Leduc 021 ramjet aircraft.  No pilot, no warhead.

The Leduc 021 was carried up by a Languedoc airliner, Space Shuttle-style, and then released.  The Leduc’s maximum ceiling was 65,000.

The reason for this unusual launch was because the Leduc used a ramjet instead of a rotary compresser (like you see on passenger jets) to force (i.e., ram) the much-needed air into the engine.  The jet had to build up a certain minimum airspeed in order for the jet to fire.

Click to Enlarge to 894 x 755 px:

French Leduc 021 Experimental Ramjet Cutaway, 1956

French Leduc 021 Experimental Ramjet Cutaway, 1956

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