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Ryan XV-5 Vertifan

The Ryan XV-5 Vertifan was a jet-powered V/STOL experimental aircraft in the 1960s.

The United States Army (US Army) commissioned the Ryan VZ-11-RY (re-designated XV-5A in 1962) in 1961, along with the Lockheed VZ-10 Hummingbird (re-designated XV-4 in 1962).

It successfully proved the concept of ducted lift fans, but the project was cancelled after multiple fatal crashes unrelated to the lift system.

The XV-5 was powered by two 2,658 lbf (11.8 kN) thrust General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets. 

General Electric X353-5 Lift-fans in the wings and a smaller fan in the nose, powered by engine exhaust gas, were used for Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL).

The 62.5 in (1.59 m) diameter lift fan in each wing had a hinged cover on the upper wing surface which was opened for VTOL.

The 36 in (0.91 m) nose fan provided adequate pitch control but produced adverse handling characteristics.

The fans provided vertical lift of approximately 16,000 lbf (71.2 kN), nearly three times the thrust of the engines as turbojets.

A set of louvered vanes underneath each of the wing fans could vector the thrust fore and aft and provided yaw control.

The engine power setting determined the lift from the fans, as fan RPM was determined by the exhaust output from the J85 engines and the load on the fan.

Roll control was by differential actuation of the wing-fan exit louvers.

Aircraft performance was subsonic, with delta wings superficially similar to those on the Douglas A-4 Skyhawk.

The Vertifan had an unusual intake position above the two-seat side-by-side seating cockpit, and a T-tail.

The XV-5A was finished in Army green and the XV-5B was painted in white NASA colours.

The fans did not generate as much thrust as was hoped, and the vertical-horizontal flight transition was difficult and abrupt.

The XV-5 would be one of the last manned aircraft designed and built by Ryan, which mainly manufactured drones after the mid 1960s.

The XV-5 was one of many dozens of aircraft which attempted to produce a successful vertical take-off aircraft, but the lift fan system was heavy and occupied considerable internal volume.

Only the Hawker Siddeley Harrier would still be operational by the turn of the 21st century, as would technology to make possible the use of a shaft-driven fan in the Lockheed Martin F-35B.



Two aircraft built in the initial build standard.


The second XV-5A re-built after a fatal crash with improved controls, fixed wide-track undercarriage and up-rated lift/propulsion systems.






44 ft 6 in (13.56 m)


29 ft 10 in (9.09 m)


14 ft 9 in (4.5 m)

Wing area

260.3 sq ft (24.18 m2)

Empty weight

7,541 lb (3,421 kg)

Max take-off weight

13,600 lb (6,169 kg)

(Conventional take-off),

12,300 lb (5,579.2 kg)



2 × General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojet, 2,658 lbf (11.82 kN)

Thrust each giving horizontal thrust and powering

2 x 62.5 in (1.59 m) General Electric X353-5 lift fans

1 x 36 in (0.91 m) General Electric X353-5 lift fan


Maximum speed

475 kn (547 mph, 880 km/h)


870 nmi (1,000 mi, 1,600 km)

Service ceiling

40,000 ft (12,000 m)

Rate of climb

8,000 ft/min (41 m/s)

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