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Douglas F6D Missileer

United States (1959)
Picture of Douglas F6D Missileer Carrier-Based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft

The Douglas F6D Missileer became a far-reaching program for the USN that came to naught - but benefited other subsequent programs.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Douglas F6D Missileer Carrier-Based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

As missile technology began to progress in the 1950s, the United States Navy began looking at plans to provide a new type of carrier-based fleet defense fighter apart from the previous approach of using dedicated high-speed fighter/interceptor types. The idea combined a large, subsonic performance aircraft with a highly-advanced missile and radar system - the aircraft essentially a "missile carrier" (also called a "Missileer") to combat inbound aerial threats. While lacking the straight-line speed of its faster brethren as well as inherent dogfighting capabilities, this aircraft would showcase excellent range and loitering qualities to help it remain on station for far longer and deliver its missile payload at range. This reduced the risk of fast enemy aircraft attempting to assail carrier groups before interceptors could be dispatched against them.

In 1959, the USN delivered a formal requirement for such a platform. Due to the technology needed, the project would involve a combination of very advanced systems and subsystems attempting to work in concert - relying on powerful radar and a dedicated crewman simply for its function. The combination radar/missile approach allowed a track / engage function against enemy elements far Beyond Visual Range (BVR), providing a distinct advantage to the Missileer platform. The Air-to-Air Missile (AAM) missile to be developed for the program was the AAM-N-10 "Eagle" by the Bendix company coupled to the AN/APQ-81 series radar fit to be developed by Westinghouse. As the aircraft would not hold the capabilities to be its own Early Warning (EW) platform, a second design was cleared for development and this became the Grumman W2F "Hawkeye" of 1964.

Douglas Aircraft was selected for design and development of the missile carrier aircraft in 1959. Its engine fit would be the new Pratt & Whitney turbofan becoming the JTF10A/TF30 (the same engine to power the General Dynamics F-111 ""Aardvark", Grumman F-14 "Tomcat", and Vought A-7 "Corsair II" aircraft to come). Engineers utilized a wide fuselage to carry the required fuel loads and house the side-by-side engine pairing. Similarly the cockpit, fitted aft of a short, rounded nose cone assembly, fitted its twin crew in a side-by-side seating arrangement. The engines were aspirated by square intakes aft of the cockpit along the fuselage sides. The wing appendages were straight - as a subsonic design, sweptback wings were not a requirement - and each allowed for three hardpoints for a total of six Eagle missiles to be carried. The empennage was conventional featuring a single vertical tail fin and low-mounted horizontal planes, the latter clearing the jet exhausts which ended well-ahead of the tail unit. In many respects, the aircraft borrowed much of its design form from the earlier Douglas F3D "Skyknight" subsonic fighter of 1951 (detailed elsewhere on this site).
The aircraft was designated as the F6D "Missileer" and its prototype form was to carry the marker of "XF6D-1".

The 2 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-2 turbofan engines supplied up to 10,200 pounds thrust each for a proposed maximum speed of 545 miles per hour. The design featured a length of 16.2 meters with a wingspan of 21.3 meters and height of 5.5 meters. Loaded weight was estimated in the 50,000 lb range with a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 60,000 lb.

From the outset, the Missileer program was a reach, mainly due to the advanced technologies in play. This product combined many all-new systems in the hope of fulfilling what was essentially an all-new battlefield approach to fleet defense. Beyond the technologies at play, the project also showcased tactical issues in its very concept - once the Missileer had expended its missile load it was essentially powerless against foes having managed to escape its initial attack - even carrier-based fighters of the day still retained an onboard cannon for close-in work, a feature the F6D was to lack. The project was formally scrapped in December of 1960 though some of its components were allowed to endure.

The F6D's technologies - particularly its TF30 engines - forged on and found use in subsequent designs. When the F-111B, a proposed navalized interceptor version of the interdictor-minded F-111A "Aardvark" failed to materialize, the role of fleet defense fighter fell to the classic Grumman F-14 "Tomcat" of 1974. Over seven hundred of the swing-wing aircraft were produced, coupling powerful radar with the equally-powerful long-range AIM-54 "Phoenix" air-to-air missile.

While the Missileer program was itself eventually killed off, its contributions to other realized programs became readily apparent.






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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (547mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
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Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
0
0


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1959
Type: Carrier-Based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Douglas Aircraft Company - USA
Production: 0
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Douglas XF6D-1 Missileer model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
52.99 ft


Meters
16.15 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
69.88 ft


Meters
21.3 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
18.04 ft


Meters
5.5 m


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
59,999 lb


Kilograms
27,215 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-2 turbofan engines developing 10,200 lb thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
547 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
880 kph


Knots
475 kts

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an air-to-air missile weapon
Graphical image of a short-range air-to-air missile
Armament - Hardpoints (6):

STANDARD:
6 x AAM-N-10 "Eagle" Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) held underwing.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• F6D "Missileer" - Base Product Designation
• XF6D-1 - Proposed prototype designation (none built)