Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK Prototype Dive Bomber / Torpedo Bomber
The single-seat Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK naval bomber prototype was produced in just five prototypes and never adopted.
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The "escort carrier" was adopted by the United States Navy during World War 2 (1939-1945) to provide an aircraft carrier-type vessel that was comparably smaller in dimension to full-sized carriers but could be produced at a much quicker pace during wartime. This led to the USN need for lighter-minded bomber/strike aircraft to stock this growing light carrier fleet. In turn, this need produced a 1943 requirement which was answered by the Kaiser-Fleetwings concern. Kaiser-Fleetwings was formed by the merger of Kaiser Cargo and Fleetwings and from this pairing emerged a January 1944 proposal for such an aircraft. To date, the Kaiser company made a wartime profit from shipbuilding while Fleetwings contributed to aircraft production for other companies.
The USN responded with a formal go-ahead in February of 1944. The specification would bring about a single-seat, single-engine, carrier-based dive bomber in two prototype forms under the "XBK"designation. Power would come from a Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22W radial piston engine and armament to be cannon-centric (2 x cannon featured in the wings). Of course there would be ordnance carrying capabilities and this set across three hardpoints total hardpoints - one fuselage centerline and two under the wings. Additional underwing space would be reserved for the carrying (and launching) of 8 x aerial rockets. The wings were also designed to fold for improved storage aboard the light carriers.
In March of 1944, the USN returned with an increased order for five aircraft.
By the fall of 1944, Kaiser-Fleetwings - with no experience in designing and developing combat fighter aircraft - produced a mockup for review. The USN now contracted for 17 pre-production units in October though authorities were now more interested in a torpedo-carrying attack aircraft than a dive bomber. As such, Kaiser-Fleetwings revised their original design, which increased the centerline hardpoint tolerance to carry a single USN-standard torpedo, and this begat the "XBT-1" designation of February 1945.