The oldest examples of this technology are the unrealized German aircraft projects Blohm & Voss P.202 and Messerschmitt Me P.1009-01 from the year 1944, based on a Messerschmitt patent. After the war, constructor Dr. Richard Vogt was brought to the US during Operation Paperclip. The oblique wing concept was resurrected by Robert T. Jones, an aeronautical engineer at the NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California. Analytical and wind tunnel studies initiated by Jones at Ames indicated that a transport-size oblique-wing aircraft, flying at speeds up to Mach 1.4 (1.4 times the speed of sound), would have substantially better aerodynamic performance than aircraft with more conventional wings.
In the 1970s, an unmanned propeller-driven aircraft was constructed and tested at Moffett Field. Known as the NASA Oblique Wing, the project pointed out a craft's unpleasant characteristics at large sweep angles.
So far, only one manned aircraft, the NASA AD-1, has been built to explore this concept. It flew a series of flight tests starting in 1979. This aircraft demonstrated a number of serious roll-coupling modes and further experimentation ended.
The general idea is to design an aircraft that performs with high efficiency as the Mach number increases from takeoff to cruise conditions (M ~ 0.8, for a commercial aircraft). Since two different types of drag dominate in each of these two flight regimes, uniting high performance designs for each regime into a single airframe is problematic.
At low Mach numbers induced drag dominates drag concerns. Airplanes during takeoff and gliders are most concerned with induced drag. One way to reduce induced drag is to increase the effective wingspan of the lifting surface. This is why gliders have such long, narrow wings. An ideal wing has infinite span and induced drag is reduced to a two–dimensional property. At lower speeds, during takeoffs and landings, an oblique wing would be positioned perpendicular to the fuselage like a conventional wing to provide maximum lift and control qualities. As the aircraft gained speed, the wing would be pivoted to increase the oblique angle, thereby reducing the drag due to wetted area, and decreasing fuel consumption.