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Bell D-36

All-Weather Heavy Fighter / Night-Fighter Aircraft Proposal

Bell D-36

All-Weather Heavy Fighter / Night-Fighter Aircraft Proposal


The proposed mixed-powerplant Bell D-36 all-weather fighter had a poor showing against rivals when presented to USAAF authorities.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1950
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Bell Aircraft - USA
OPERATORS: United States (not selected)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Bell D-36 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 47.08 feet (14.35 meters)
WIDTH: 56.10 feet (17.1 meters)
HEIGHT: 16.24 feet (4.95 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 18,739 pounds (8,500 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 30,005 pounds (13,610 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x General Electric TG-100 (T31) turboprop gas turbine engines of unknown horsepower output in wings driving three-bladed propeller blades in counter-rotating fashion; 2 x Westinghouse 24C-6 turbojet engines in fuselage.
SPEED (MAX): 550 miles-per-hour (885 kilometers-per-hour; 478 knots)
RANGE: 2,600 miles (4,185 kilometers; 2,260 nautical miles)
CEILING: 43,258 feet (13,185 meters; 8.19 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 7,660 feet-per-minute (2,335 meters-per-minute)

4 x 20mm cannons in nose assembly.
2 x 20mm cannons in engine nacelles, aft-facing (one gun per nacelle).

2 x 1,000 lb conventional drop bombs
8 x 5" (127mm) High-Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVARs) aerial rockets.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Series Model Variants
• D-36 - Bell Proposal Designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the Bell D-36 All-Weather Heavy Fighter / Night-Fighter Aircraft Proposal.  Entry last updated on 5/15/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The pace of technological developments concerning military aircraft during World War 2 (1939-1945) showcased to American warplanners that many new types would be required after the war in order to meet all-new over-battlefield demands. In August of 1945 characteristics were fleshed out for several new category designs and one of these formulated to become a new United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) all-weather heavy fighter / night-fighter.

The wartime version of the heavy fighter was typically a twin-engined platform armed with machine gun and cannon armament for ground attack actions and air-to-air combat. An inherent bomb-carrying and rocket-launching capability were added to many of these designs to produce a true multirole performer. These aircraft were usually crewed by two personnel (though the Lockheed P-38 Lightning required just one) and were deployed on all manner of sorties against the enemy.

The committee agreed upon several performance factors - a minimum top speed of 550 miles per hour and a combat radius of 1,000 miles. Standard, fixed armament would be 6 x 0.50 caliber Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) or harder-hitting 4 x 20mm cannons in their place. Of course the design would also have to include an inherent bomb-carrying capability and support the launching of high-velocity rockets to contend with most any mission set thrown its way.

Bell joined others in submitting possible designs for review and their offering came in the form of the "D-36". Engineers elected for a high-winged monoplane form which sat the cockpit aft of a short nosecone but ahead of the wing mainplanes. The wing mainplanes would house nearly all of the proposed fuel stores allowing the fuselage section to contain all other mission-pertinent components including armament, crew spaces, radar and avionics. The tail was raised and capped by a single vertical fin afforded mid-mounted horizontal planes. A tricycle undercarriage was envisioned. The engines were installed by way of nacelles fitted into each wing, underslung in the usual way and running from beyond the wing leading edges to the trailing edges. Each engine would power a three-bladed propeller unit though it was expected that a four-bladed assembly would be featured in the future without much change to the powerplant scheme. A crew of two, the pilot and a radar operator, were to be seated side-by-side in the wide cockpit setting.

The General Electric TG-100 (T31) turboprop gas turbine engine was to take up its position in each wing to supply conventional power with provision made to adopt a larger, more powerful engine in the near future. A drive shaft was intended to join the pair at the fuselage allowing one engine to drive the other propeller as needed - a fuel-savings feature as well as a security measure should one engine fail. The propellers rotated in a "counter" action to eliminate torque manufactured by either installation and each held a reverse-pitch function to quickly decelerate the aircraft in-flight. There was also additional power to be provided by 2 x Westinghouse 24C-6 turbojet engines installed within the fuselage - making the D-36 a mixed-powerplant aircraft.

No fighter would be complete without an armament suite so the D-36 was proposed with 4 x 20mm cannons fitted to the nose assembly. An additional 20mm cannon was to be installed, aft-facing, at either engine nacelle to offer a rearward-firing function and counter the threat posed by any trailing interceptor. Interestingly, each gun mounting was to have a small degree of movement to offer fine-tuning when aiming. While the aforementioned armament was to be a standard fit and fixed in place, the D-36 was also designed with the required bomb- and rocket-carrying capability. This was to encompass 2 x 1,000lb bombs along with 8 x 5" (127mm) High-Velocity Aircraft Rockets (HVARs).

The Bell D-36 proposal was passed on by authorities due to issues centering on the complexity of the conjoined engine arrangement as well as what was deemed below average vision out-of-the-cockpit. There were also concerns about the basic design as it stood and its general acceptance of ejection seats for the crew which would have required a redrawing of the forward section. The gun armament in the nose was also thought to have blinded the crew when firing in the dark of night. Perceived control characteristics and estimated performance were the high marks of the submission but not enough to warrant a development contract - in fact authorities found the other competing designs bested Bell's design in several major performance categories. Of the nine proposals submitted, Bell's ended in sixth place.

The winning bid, presented by Northrop as the "N-24", would go on to become the Cold War-era warrior F-89 "Scorpion" jet-powered fighter in operational service. The Curtiss XP-87 "Blackhawk" jet-powered interceptor (detailed elsewhere on this site) also came from the same all-weather heavy fighter requirement but was also passed on after two prototypes were completed. This ended Curtiss' involvement in fighter-making.

Performance estimates of the Bell D-36 included a maximum speed of 550 miles per hour, a service ceiling of 43,250 feet, and a range of 2,600 miles (when flying at 20,000 feet altitude). Rate-of-climb was to reach near 7,660 feet-per-minute.


General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating
The MF Power Rating takes into account over sixty individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (550mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Bell D-36's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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 (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
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
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 pioneering aircraft
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 representing modern aircraft
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 War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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