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Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK

Prototype Dive Bomber / Torpedo Bomber

Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK

Prototype Dive Bomber / Torpedo Bomber

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The single-seat Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK naval bomber prototype was produced in just five prototypes and never adopted.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1945
MANUFACTURER(S): Kaiser-Fleetwings - USA
PRODUCTION: 5
OPERATORS: United States
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 38.91 feet (11.86 meters)
WIDTH: 48.65 feet (14.83 meters)
HEIGHT: 15.68 feet (4.78 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 9,965 pounds (4,520 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 15,785 pounds (7,160 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W 18-cylinder radial piston engine developing 2,100 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 373 miles-per-hour (600 kilometers-per-hour; 324 knots)
RANGE: 1,367 miles (2,200 kilometers; 1,188 nautical miles)
CEILING: 33,399 feet (10,180 meters; 6.33 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 3,550 feet-per-minute (1,082 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



STANDARD:
2 x 20mm cannons

OPTIONAL:
Up to 3,000lbs of external stores across a centerline and two underwing stations for conventional drop ordnance or a torpedo. Also support for 8 x 5" High Velocity Aerial Rockets (HVARs).
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• XBTK - Base Series Designation
• XBTK-1 - Base prototype designation


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK Prototype Dive Bomber / Torpedo Bomber.  Entry last updated on 3/20/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
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.




As completed, the XBTK-1 was a very nice looking aircraft with a form akin to the Vietnam War-era Douglas A-1 "Skyraider". The XBTK-1 featured a forward-mounted engine compartment with forward-set cockpit, the later under a teardrop-shaped bubble canopy for excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit. The monoplane wings sat low along the fuselage sides in the usual way and were properly strengthened for the rigors of carrier-based service. The fuselage was well contoured and tapered to the empennage to which a large-area vertical tail fin was affixed. Horizontal tailplanes were mid-mounted along the fin sides. The undercarriage - wholly retractable and featuring the requisite arrestor hook - was of the "trail-dragger" configuration showcasing two main landing gear legs and a diminutive tail wheel. A special exhaust system was installed which attempted to turn cooling drag into additional thrust. As a low-level attack aircraft, the XBTK-1 was also given the requisite self-sealing fuel tanks seen in other aircraft of the period and the cockpit was armored for improved pilot survivability.

Progress on the XBTK-1 was a slow affair while the war evolved at a quickened pace. First flight was not recorded until April 12th, 1945 and subsequent testing eventually saw the original -22W engine replaced with the supercharged Pratt & Whitney R-2800-34W engine of 2,100 horsepower to drive the four-blade propeller assembly. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 373 miles per hour, a range out to 1,400 miles and a service ceiling of 33,400 feet.

Further testing also forced some changes to the design - special cowls were added around the engine casing to help with overheating issues and the special exhaust feature - promising a performance boost - did not produce as expected - it just added complexity to an already complex design. On the whole, however, Kaiser-Fleetwings submission was quite a solid one and certainly promising in the scope of the USN requirement. The aircraft was eventually delivered to USN hands for additional review.

In September of 1945, World War 2 had come to its official close. This spelled the death for many-a-promising aircraft venture including the Kaiser-Fleetwings torpedo bomber. Some five aircraft were eventually completed with four of these flyable. The massive American defense drawdown in both military products and budget after the war left little room to grow such programs as the XBTK-1 and this signaled the end of the road for the machine.




MEDIA









Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (373mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Kaiser-Fleetwings XBTK's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
5
5

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue