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McDonnell Model 60

Carrier-based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Proposal

McDonnell Model 60

Carrier-based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Proposal


The Model 60 was another McDonnell interceptor design attempt geared towards the United States Navy after the close of World War 2.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1948
MANUFACTURER(S): McDonnell Aircraft - United States
OPERATORS: United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the McDonnell Model 60 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 44.95 feet (13.7 meters)
WIDTH: 30.35 feet (9.25 meters)
HEIGHT: 14.60 feet (4.45 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 14,330 pounds (6,500 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 17,185 pounds (7,795 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Westinghouse XJ40-WE-8 turbojet engine developing 7,500lb of thrust (estimated).
SPEED (MAX): 761 miles-per-hour (1,225 kilometers-per-hour; 661 knots)
RANGE: 1,087 miles (1,750 kilometers; 945 nautical miles)
CEILING: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters; 9.47 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 30,450 feet-per-minute (9,281 meters-per-minute)

24 x Aerial rockets held in a retractable ventral bay.
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets

Series Model Variants
• Model 60 - Base Company Product Designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the McDonnell Model 60 Carrier-based Fleet Defense Fighter / Interceptor Proposal.  Entry last updated on 5/5/2016. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Before the close of World War 2 (1939-1945), and in the period immediately following, the United States Navy (USN) raced to field its first jet-powered, carrier-launched fighters. Many developments existed and even more proposals were witnessed during this chapter of American aviation history that were to lead the service to acquire a whole new generation of fighter types heading into the next decade. A May 1948 requirement called for a new carrier-based, short-ranged single-seat turbojet-powered fleet defender / interceptor and, while the service eventually selected two different designs for the role - the Douglas F4D Skyray and the McDonnell F3H Demon, there lay several other submissions of note including the McDonnell "Model 60".

As an interceptor, the design required excellent take-off and climbing capabilities to meet a given inbound threat in short order. Additionally, a dimensionally compact design was needed to keep the aircraft both lightweight and relatively small for storage and operation aboard space-strapped American carriers. McDonnell introduced two designs, the Model 59 and the Model 60, the former utilizing a more conventional swept-wing arrangement, very pointed nose cone assembly and traditional tail unit with single rudder fin. The Model 60, however, settled on a twin rudder approach with full delta wing configuration. The mainplanes ran against the sides of the cylindrical fuselage which sat the pilot at the front in the usual way, aft of a shallow nosecone assembly. A tricycle undercarriage would be used and excellent vision out-of-the-cockpit provided for by a largely unobstructed "teardrop-style" canopy.

The selection of a delta wing allowed for more internal volume in the wings to be had. This meant that the main undercarriage legs could share space with additional fuel stores and possible armament while freeing volume from within the fuselage proper. A blended wing-body was not used however which would have benefitted the design even more. Besides the more obvious benefits of the delta wing championed by McDonnell engineers, another selling point of the approach was in improved handling characteristics and diving speeds. The rudder fins were set along the midway mark of each wing's trailing edge.

The Model 60 borrowed some of the Model 58's design features - a sole Westinghouse XJ40-WE-8 turbojet engine would be used and this aspirated by an intake arrangement which contoured nicely about the rounded fuselage sides at the cockpit walls. The engine was to exhaust through a single, large port between the twin rudder fins so no wing surfaces would be exposed to jet wash. The same armament scheme seen in the Model 59 was also employed in the Model 60 and consisted of 24 x aerial rockets fitted into a retractable, ventrally-mounted launcher unit.

It was estimated that the Model 60 could reach near-supersonic speeds during level flight and would most certainly be able to attain Mach 1.0+ speeds in a dive. The rocket armament gave it a healthy frontal "punch" against any incoming enemy target - particularly large Soviet bombers. As drawn up, the Model 60 was given a length of 45 feet and a wingspan of 30.3 feet. As a carrier aircraft it would also have been completed with the usual carrier-qualities such as reinforced undercarriage, tail arrestor hook and folding wings (the wings were set to fold outboard of each vertical tailplane). Maximum speed was estimated to be 762 miles per hour with a rate-of-climb nearing 30,450 feet per minute.

At any rate the Model 60 was not selected for development and the design ended its days as nothing more than a "paper airplane". The USN certainly found its fighters in due time and went on to field some of the more classic of the Cold War carrier-based aircraft to see the light of day. McDonnell continued to design and sell the service on various aircraft for the remainder of its operating days - including the fabulous F-4 "Phantom II" multirole platform which turned into a global success.


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
Hi: 1000mph
Lo: 500mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (761mph).

Graph average of 750 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the McDonnell Model 60'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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