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  • Grumman XF5F Skyrocket Shipborne Navy Fighter Prototype

    The Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket was trialled by the USN as a possible carrier-based twin-engine fighter - it only saw one prototype completed before 1944.

     Updated: 5/16/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    Before the unique, twin-engined Grumman XP-50 popped up on U.S. Army radars prior to World War 2 (1939-1945) it existed as a similar form for potential sale to the United States Navy (USN) as the XF5F "Skyrocket" lightweight fighter prototype. It was originally envisioned as a fast shipborne interceptor with the handling and performance capabilities to match enemy fighters of the period head-to-head. After Grumman presented the USN with its radical design, it was ordered for prototyping on June 30th, 1939 - nearly a two-years-and-a-half before America's entry into World War 2 (December 1941). Its model designation became "G-34".

    The XF5F was unique by any measure of the period. It sat the sole crewmember in a truncated fuselage that was capped at its front by the straight-edged wing mainplanes. These mainplanes mounted the two engine nacelles at their leading edges, giving the fighter a wholly unique appearance. The tail unit was set in its usual place but carried a twin-rudder configuration set about a pair of upward-cranked horizontal planes. A "tail-dragger" undercarriage rounded out the aircraft's physical qualities.

    Dimensions included a running length of 28.8 feet, a wingspan of 42 feet, and a height of 11.3 feet. Empty weight was 8,110 lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 10,900 lb.

    Power was served through 2 x Wright XR-1820-40/42 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines outputting 1,200 horsepower each. The engines drove the three-bladed propellers in opposite directions, effectively cancelling the natural torque effect generated by each engine's spinning blades and making for a more steady flying and gunnery platform. Performance was promising to say the least.

    As a Navy fighter, it was originally proposed that the new aircraft carry 2 x 23mm Madsen cannons. Beyond this fixed armament the aircraft would also be cleared to carry 2 x 165lb drop bombs as a ground attacker.

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    Grumman XF5F-1 Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1940
    Type: Shipborne Navy Fighter Prototype
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Grumman Aircraft - USA
    Production Total: 1

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 28.71 feet (8.75 meters)
    Width: 41.99 feet (12.80 meters)
    Height: 11.32 feet (3.45 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 7,937 lb (3,600 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 12,015 lb (5,450 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 2 x Wright XR-1820-40/42 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,200 horsepower each.

    Maximum Speed: 382 mph (615 kph; 332 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,118 miles (1,800 km)
    Service Ceiling: 36,089 feet (11,000 meters; 6.84 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 4,000 feet-per-minute (1,219 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns
    2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns

    2 x 165lb bombs

    Global Operators / Customers

    United States (cancelled)

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XF5F-1 - Prototype Series Designation; single example completed and test flown.