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United States (1954)

Detailing the development and operational history of the CONVAIR XFY Pogo Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Fighter Prototype.

 Entry last updated on 11/2/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

Picture of CONVAIR XFY Pogo Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Fighter Prototype
Picture of CONVAIR XFY Pogo Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Fighter Prototype

The CONVAIR XFY Pogo was a study in the viability of a VTOL fighter aircraft - only three were built and only one ever flown.

Both the CONVAIR XFY "Pogo" and Lockheed XFV were developed to a 1950 United States Navy (USN) requirement intended to test the viability of a "tail-sitting" shipborne fighter for arming and protecting convoys and for providing a quick-reaction point defense capability to warships in general. The aircraft were described as tail-sitters due to their vertical stance when at rest, taking-off or landing. In this fashion, the aircraft held a small, compact footprint on the space-strapped decks of USN ships then in service and could be called into action in short order. Several programs attempted the same end-goal during this post-World War 2 period and included the French-originated SNECMA "Coleopter". In the end, the CONVAIR work netted three aircraft with only one flyable example. Similarly, the Lockheed submission could claim just one flyable example between its two prototypes completed.

The CONVAIR submission was designated "XFY-1" and was also known as the "Model 5". As in the Lockheed entry, the CONVAIR aircraft utilized a conventional propulsion package, held equal-span tailfins (both ventrally and dorsally with all four wing tips capped by small castor wheels), and seated a sole pilot over the nose. As designed, the XFY featured a unique pivoting system for the pilot's ejection seat allowing the whole unit to tilt 45-degrees when the aircraft sat in the vertical position and level out when the aircraft switched to horizontal flight. The ventral tailfin was also made jettisonable in the event an emergency landing was required of the aircraft. Unlike the XFV, the XFY was given a modified delta-planform for its wing mainplanes.

The USN ordered three prototypes from CONVAIR in March of 1951.

Power to the design would initially come from an Allison YT-40-A engine of 5,850 horsepower and a ch a later switch would be made to the still-in-development XT40-A-16 of 6,966 horsepower output. This was the same plan for the competing Lockheed XFV. The XFY's engine fit would be used to drive 2 x three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion at the nose.
The XFY was also slated to carry a similar armament load to its rival - 4 x 20mm cannons fitted to two wingtip pods or 48 x 2.75" aerial rockets in their place. The wingtip pods allowed for the weapon's firing clearance of the large, broad spinning propeller blades.

A prototype example completed its first tethered flight on April 19th, 1954 and managed a first flight (a vertical take-off and landing action) on August 1st, 1954 (the Lockheed submission was "first-to-fly" on June 16th of that year). On November 2nd, 1954, the aircraft completed its first vertical take-off to horizontal flight transition - something not accomplished by the Lockheed entry.

The sole flyable XFY example managed 60 hours in the air before the VTOL program was cancelled by the USN. The major deficiencies in the CONVAIR design were a lack of an effective air braking measure when attempting to transition to vertical landing and the inherently difficult -and dangerous - landing action altogether which itself required a steady and experienced hand "at the stick". Beyond these factors, the aircraft's estimated performance would never match that of the newest enemy fighter jets coming online. As such the final flight of the XFY occurred during November of 1956 ending several years of useful testing.

Like the Lockheed XFV, the CONVAIR XFY was saved from the scrap heap and currently (2016) resides in storage at the National Air and Space Museum in Maryland. Reported performance specifications included a maximum speed of 475 miles per hour, a range out to 500 miles, a service ceiling of 37,500 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 9,980 feet-per-minute.
CONVAIR XFY-1 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1954
Status: Cancelled
Type: Experimental Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Fighter Prototype
Manufacturer(s): CONVAIR - USA
Production: 3
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 32.15 ft (9.8 m)
Width: 27.56 ft (8.40 m)
Height: 22.90 ft (6.98 m)
Empty Weight: 11,155 lb (5,060 kg)
MTOW: 16,248 lb (7,370 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Allison YT40-A-14 turboprop engine developing 5,100 horsepower while driving 2 x Three-bladed contra-rotating propellers.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 475 mph (765 kph; 413 kts)
Maximum Range: 500 mi (805 km; 435 nm)
Service Ceiling: 37,533 ft (11,440 m; 7.11 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 9,985 ft/min (3,043 m/min)

4 x 20mm cannons

48 x 70mm Mk 4 FFARs (Folding-Fin Aerial Rockets)

Operators List
United States (cancelled)

Series Model Variants
• XFY - Base Product Designation
• XFY-1 - Prototype Designation
• "Pogo" - Product Name

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon

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