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X-PLANE


Kaiser-Fleetwings XA-39


Ground Attack Aircraft Proposal


The Kaiser-Fleetwings XA-39 attack platform only managed a mockup form before the project was terminated amidst changing U.S. Army requirements.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 4/1/2019
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Specifications


Year: 1942
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): Kaiser-Fleetwings - USA
Production: 0
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Close-Air Support (CAS); X-Plane;
Crew: 1
Length: 42.75 ft (13.03 m)
Width: 55.77 ft (17 m)
Weight (MTOW): 20,503 lb (9,300 kg)
Power: 1 x Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 radial piston engine developing 2,000 horsepower.
Speed: 357 mph (575 kph; 310 kts)
Ceiling: 27,805 feet (8,475 m; 5.27 miles)
Range: 1,401 miles (2,255 km; 1,218 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,040 ft/min (622 m/min)
Operators: United States (cancelled)
To help fulfill a standing U.S. Army attack aircraft requirement, little-known Kaiser-Fleetwings developed a large, single-seat / single-engine conventional monoplane under the "XA-39" designation. The type competed with a collection of other similar offerings but never materialized beyond the mockup stage by which point the Army had moved from its focus on single-engined heavy attackers to twin-engined types and the XA-39 fell to history.

Founded in 1929, Fleetwings was born in Bristol, Pennsylvania and was acquired in 1943 by Kaiser to produce the "Kaiser-Fleetwings" brand label. The brand only saw a few wartime aircraft designs but none ever achieved any sort of notoriety. The company continued operations into the post-war years by which point it was involved in the American space program before closing its doors for good in 1962.

The XA-39 was developed for the ground attack role and this meant a large and rugged, reliable aircraft capable of absorbing punishment from ground-based fire and dealing with the stresses of diving and quick turns. Range was also an important quality as loitering over contested zones was a priority. Typically these aircraft types were required to carry considerable ordnance loads - guns, cannons, rockets, and drop bombs. To power the new design, Kaiser-Fleetwings engineers selected the massive Pratt & Whitney R-2800 series radial piston engine of 2,100 horsepower output and this would be used to drive a three-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Its overall configuration saw the engine at front with the cockpit immediately aft - though the latter fitted well-forward of midships itself. The pilot was given relatively good views from a slightly-framed canopy. Wings were monoplane appendages and the tail unit was of a standard, single-finned arrangement. The undercarriage utilized a typical "tail dragger" configuration. As with other American warplanes of the period, particularly those expected to fly "low-and-slow", cockpit and engine armoring was to be standard as were self-sealing fuel tanks. Overall dimensions of the XA-39 were a length of 42.8 feet and wingspan of 55.8 feet.

Proposed armament became 2 x 37mm autocannons and up to 4 x 0.50 caliber Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs), all presumably fitted to the wings. An internal weapons bay was to cover the bombing requirement - 6 x 500lb bombs (or equivalent) would envisioned as a standard load.

Engineers estimated the radial engine coupled to the streamlined design would provide the aircraft with a maximum speed of 357 miles per hour when cruising at 16,600 feet. Climb rate would have been 2,040 feet-per-minute and a service ceiling of 27,800 feet being reported. Operational range was out to 1,400 miles.

As previously stated, Army authorities gradually moved away from single-engined attack types and settled on twin-engine platforms for the duration of the war (which ended in 1945). By the end, the single-engined attack type had returned to the forefront of Army plans and classics such as the Douglas "Skyraider" emerged to take the mantle.






Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Armament



PROPOSED:

Standard, Fixed (never fitted):
2 x 37mm cannons
4 x 0.50 caliber Browning Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs)

Optional:
6 x 500lb conventional drop bombs OR 2 x 1,600lb drop bombs in internal weapons bay.

Variants / Models



• XA-39 - Base Product Designation
• A-39 - Assumed production model designation
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