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CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart

United States (1953)
Picture of CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart Seaplane Fighter Prototype Aircraft

Only five of the CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart prototypes were ever completed - no serial production followed.


Detailing the development and operational history of the CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart Seaplane Fighter Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/20/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The concept of a jet-powered "seaplane fighter" had long been on the minds of military aircraft engineers since the end of World War 2 (1939-1945) and many attempts were made to see this plan through. The process involved a jet- or rocket-powered fighter capable of take-off and landing on water all the while retaining fighter-like qualities once in the air. This, theoretically, could give a fighting force a distinct tactical advantage - the aircraft could be deployed anywhere in the world (over 70% of the planet is covered by water) and stationed there until needed - a much less expensive venture than a loitering aircraft carrier to be sure. Its power in getting to the skies quickly would allow it to intercept marauding enemy forces in short order.

The United States Navy (USN) was always interested in supersonic aircraft types, following the United States Air Force (USAF) lead after the Second World War. However supersonic types launched and recovered from aircraft carrier decks presented a whole slew of technical challenges - primarily due to the speeds at play. As such, it would be some time before the USN adopted viable supersonic fighters and, until then, subsonic types remained the order of the day.

Aircraft producer CONVAIR (1943-1996) approached the USN with an idea for a supersonic fighter based around the seaplane interceptor idea. The proposal was interesting enough that the USN ordered a pair of prototypes before the end of 1951 and a further twelve production-quality aircraft were already contracted for.

The resulting design came to be known as the F2Y "Sea Dart". It utilized some of the design qualities made memorable by CONVAIR's upcoming Mach 1-capable "Delta Dagger" interceptor of 1956 complete with its sharp lines, triangular cockpit canopy and a triangular tail fin. For water operation, the fuselage underside exhibited a boat-like appearance and retractable skis would be used for water surface running. Power was to be provided for by 2 x Westinghouse XJ46-WE-02 turbojet engines (6,100 lb thrust each) buried in the fuselage, the twin exhaust rings seen at the rear of the aircraft sitting just above the waterline. Because of the damage salt water could cause the delicate components of the turbojets, the intakes for each unit were fitted dorsally, aft of the cockpit. A delta-wing mainplane arrangement was used that eliminated the need for dedicated tailplanes.
Delays occurring with the intended Westinghouse XJ46 engines meant that the prototypes were completed with the alternative (and lower-powered) Westinghouse J34-WE-32 turbojet instead (4,900 lb thrust each). Testing began in San Diego Bay and a first flight was had, rather accidentally, on January 14th, 1953 when a high-speed run took the aircraft up.

From then on, the program revealed mounting shortcomings in both design and performance that would lead to the Sea Dart's undoing. The engines never helped the aircraft perform to expected levels and the ski arrangement was not as successful as hoped (several variations of the ski arrangement were used). Supersonic speed proved elusive and was only attained in a diving action - making the Sea Dart the only seaplane in aviation history to achieve this feat. Aerodynamic drag was an ongoing detriment for the product.

All this led to a termination of the second contracted prototype which moved a service test airframe to the forefront. This model - BuNo 135762 was lost in midair when it broke apart on a November 4th, 1954 flight, claiming the life of its test pilot. By this time, USN authorities had begun moving away from the novel concept of the seaplane fighter and focused greater efforts in delivering the service's first supersonic carrier-based fighter instead (to become the Douglas F4D "Skyray").

A total of five Sea Darts were completed but not all were flown. The program was ended in April of 1957 with the four surviving members becoming museum showpieces.

The finalized Sea Dart exhibited a length of 52.6 feet, a wingspan of 33.7 feet and a height of 16.1 feet. Maximum speed was 825 miles per hour with a range out to 513 miles. Its service ceiling was listed at 54,800 feet and a rate-of-climb of 17,100 feet-per-minute was reported. Proposed armament for the fighter was to include 4 x 20mm Colt Mk 12 series cannons and support for FFAR (Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets) as well as early-generation Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs).






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: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (823mph).

    Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
Small airplane graphic
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United States
Service Year: 1953
Classification Type: Seaplane Fighter Prototype Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): CONVAIR - USA
Production Units: 5
Operational Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the CONVAIR F2Y Sea Dart model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
52.49 ft


Meters
16 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
33.79 ft


Meters
10.3 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
16.08 ft


Meters
4.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
12,632 lb


Kilograms
5,730 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
16,491 lb


Kilograms
7,480 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Westinghouse J46-WE-2 turbojet engines developing 6,100 lb thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
823 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
1,325 kph


Knots
715 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
513 mi


Kilometers
825 km


Nautical Miles
445 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
54,790 ft


Meters
16,700 m


Miles
10.38 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
17,100 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
5,212 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (2):

PROPOSED STANDARD:
4 x 20mm Colt Mk 12 cannons

PROPOSED OPTIONAL:
2 x Air-to-air missiles
30 x 5" aerial rockets
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Variants: Series Model Variants
• F2Y "Sea Dart" - Series Product Name
• XF2Y-1 - Base prototype series designation; five completed
• YF-7A - Redesignation of 1962 (in accordance with USAF restructuring).