Brewster XSBA-1 / SBN-1
Carrier-Based Dive Bomber
A protracted development period left the Brewster SBN-1 an obsolete machine when America went to war in December of 1941.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited:
The Brewster aviation concern managed some - albeit slow - headway on their XSBA/SBN carrier aircraft. The type was a three-seat, single-engine monoplane dive bomber incorporating what were then-modern components during the early-to-mid 1930s. The aircraft began life as the XSBA-1 prototype before evolving to become the "SBN-1" taken on in small numbers by the United States Navy (USN) just prior to America's entry into World War 2 (1939-1945). A sole XSBA-1 prototype was produced to go along with the thirty SBN-1 production models eventually adopted by the USN. The product stemmed from a 1934 USN competition which saw Brewster's design emerge followed by a first flight in 1936. However, by the time it was introduced in 1941 and America was at war in 1942, the 1930s-era airplane proved of little value to foreseeable operations. As such, it was relegated to training duties for a short time before being pulled from service from August 1942 onwards.
For the XSBA-1, Brewster engineers adopted a deep, tapering fuselage with the powerplant conventionally set at the front of the aircraft driving a three-bladed propeller. The pilot and crew sat under a greenhouse-style canopy with good views of the surrounding action. The aircraft featured monoplane wing appendages that were mid-set along the fuselage sides. The main landing gear were retractable into the sides of the lower fuselage (ala the Grumman F4F fighter) utilizing a rather complex-looking strut arrangement. The tail was capped by a single vertical tail fin and low-set horizontal tailplanes. Its crew numbered three- pilot, navigator and gunner - with the latter crewmember seated in a position at the rear of the aircraft manning a sole, trainable 0.30 caliber machine gun. Perforated split dive-flaps were installed on the wings to retard the descent of the aircraft when on its attack run. An internal bomb bay supported a single 500lb bomb. Power was served through a Wright XR-1820-22 Cyclone radial piston engine of 950 horsepower and performance specifications included a maximum speed of 255 miles per hour, a range out to 1,015 miles and a service ceiling of 28,300 feet.
By the time of the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the United States Navy was still in the process of accepting delivery of these Brewster machines from the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF). The aircraft proved of little value with the fast-paced war to follow, quickly usurped by more modem and capable dive bombers that followed and, as such, production stood at just the 30 aforementioned examples as well as the single prototype model.
Brewster's life as an aircraft contractor ended on April 5th, 1946 as the company struggled to profit after the war's end. Aircraft production at the Naval Aircraft Factory - set up by the USN in 1918 solely to produce its needed aircraft - ended in early 1945.