Vought F7U Cutlass Carrier-Borne Fighter Aircraft
Engine issues and an unenviable accident record eventually doomed the interesting Vought F7U Cutlass carrier-based fighter of the United States Navy.
Authored By Dan Alex; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Vought F7U "Cutlass" was an American Cold War-era naval fighter and the first swept-wing USN fighter to be adopted into service as well as the first "tailless" American fighter aircraft. The type led a troubled developmental existence and an even more troubled service life to the point that only a few hundred aircraft were procured and multiple fatalities occurring during its short time in service. Its design made it as unforgettable as its track record made it forgettable - such became the legacy of the Cutlass fighter program. The aircraft inevitably received the nicknames of the "Praying Mantis", the "Ensign Eliminator" and the "Gutless Cutlass" - such was its lasting impression to pilots.
In December of 1945, the United States Navy put forth Specification OS-105 which called for a new jet-powered carrier-borne day fighter to add to its post-World War 2 ranks. The requirement specified a maximum speed of 600 miles per hour (with afterburner adding some 50mph more), a 6,500 feet-per-second rate-of-climb as well as a combat radius of 345 miles, and an operating service ceiling of 40,000 feet. Design proposals emerged from Curtiss, Douglas, Martin, McDonnell, North American, and Vought to which Vought's twin-engine, tailless offering was selected on June 25th, 1946 (as "Model V-346A"). Reportedly, Vought engineers utilized captured wartime data obtained from the German concern of Arado - famous makers of the jet-powered Ar 234 "Blitz" bomber. The Vought proposal then emerged in three prototypes under the "XF7U-1" designation and the line as a whole went on to receive the name of "Cutlass" in due time.