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Grumman XF5F Skyrocket

Shipborne Navy Fighter Prototype

Grumman XF5F Skyrocket

Shipborne Navy Fighter Prototype

OVERVIEW
SPECIFICATIONS
ARMAMENT
VARIANTS
HISTORY
MEDIA
OVERVIEW



The Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket was trialled by the USN as a possible carrier-based twin-engine fighter - it only saw one prototype completed before 1944.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1940
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): Grumman Aircraft - USA
PRODUCTION: 1
OPERATORS: United States (cancelled)
SPECIFICATIONS



Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Grumman XF5F Skyrocket model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
CREW: 1
LENGTH: 28.71 feet (8.75 meters)
WIDTH: 41.99 feet (12.8 meters)
HEIGHT: 11.32 feet (3.45 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 7,937 pounds (3,600 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 12,015 pounds (5,450 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Wright XR-1820-40/42 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 1,200 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 382 miles-per-hour (615 kilometers-per-hour; 332 knots)
RANGE: 1,118 miles (1,800 kilometers; 972 nautical miles)
CEILING: 36,089 feet (11,000 meters; 6.84 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 4,000 feet-per-minute (1,219 meters-per-minute)




ARMAMENT



PROPOSED, FIXED:
2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns
2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns

PROPOSED, OPTIONAL:
2 x 165lb bombs
VARIANTS



Series Model Variants
• XF5F-1 - Prototype Series Designation; single example completed and test flown.


HISTORY



Detailing the development and operational history of the Grumman XF5F Skyrocket Shipborne Navy Fighter Prototype.  Entry last updated on 2/13/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Before the unique, twin-engined Grumman XP-50 popped up on U.S. Army radars prior to World War 2 (1939-1945) it existed as a similar form for potential sale to the United States Navy (USN) as the XF5F "Skyrocket" lightweight fighter prototype. It was originally envisioned as a fast shipborne interceptor with the handling and performance capabilities to match enemy fighters of the period head-to-head. After Grumman presented the USN with its radical design, it was ordered for prototyping on June 30th, 1939 - nearly a two-years-and-a-half before America's entry into World War 2 (December 1941). Its model designation became "G-34".

The XF5F was unique by any measure of the period. It sat the sole crewmember in a truncated fuselage that was capped at its front by the straight-edged wing mainplanes. These mainplanes mounted the two engine nacelles at their leading edges, giving the fighter a wholly unique appearance. The tail unit was set in its usual place but carried a twin-rudder configuration set about a pair of upward-cranked horizontal planes. A "tail-dragger" undercarriage rounded out the aircraft's physical qualities.

Dimensions included a running length of 28.8 feet, a wingspan of 42 feet, and a height of 11.3 feet. Empty weight was 8,110 lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 10,900 lb.

Power was served through 2 x Wright XR-1820-40/42 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines outputting 1,200 horsepower each. The engines drove the three-bladed propellers in opposite directions, effectively cancelling the natural torque effect generated by each engine's spinning blades and making for a more steady flying and gunnery platform. Performance was promising to say the least.

As a Navy fighter, it was originally proposed that the new aircraft carry 2 x 23mm Madsen cannons. Beyond this fixed armament the aircraft would also be cleared to carry 2 x 165lb drop bombs as a ground attacker.




The entry of the XF5F during this period of American naval aviation history was of particular note as it was a twin-engined performer during a time when the first monoplanes in USN service were just beginning to take hold in inventory. Twin engines offered better range and power at the expense of complexity, maintenance requirements, and overall size on space-strapped carriers. Regardless, any advantage that could be gained against an enemy fighter was certainly entertained and Grumman had already established itself as the premiere aircraft supplier to the USN so the partnership between the two was not unwarranted.

First flight of the XF5F prototype occurred on April 1st, 1940 and this early period of testing revealed issues that forced revisions including a lengthening of both nose and engine nacelles and a reworking of the engine cooling system. Aerodynamics were further addressed by spinners added to each propeller unit and the cockpit canopy being lowered. The armament fit was changed from 2 x cannons to 2 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns with 2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns. This combination armament approach was common to many interwar American fighter planes - particularly before it was realized that a full battery of 0.50 machine guns offered the best firepower against more modern enemy fighters. On the whole, the fighter proved to have exceptional straight line speed for its time, good maneuverability, and a stellar rate-of-climb.

When tested against its contemporaries, the Grumman aircraft outshined the competition - including such war-winning classics like the British Supermarine "Spitfire" and the in-development Vought XF4U (to become the F4U "Corsair"). Due to logistical matters, however, the complex twin-engine aircraft was not pursued by the USN -instead it favored more conventional, easier-to-produce and maintain monoplanes like Grumman's other product - the F4F "Wildcat" and its successor, the F6F "Hellcat".

As such, the XF5F fell to aviation history. It was resurrected for a short time as the land-based "XP-50" (detailed elsewhere on this site) but this entry accomplished little more than its Navy sister - managing just one flying prototype herself. Both initiatives were ultimately cancelled but Grumman used these experiences to develop a fine "twin" in the late-war F7F "Tigercat" which saw production reach 364 units. These managed a combat career with the USN and USMC air services as a heavy fighter / night fighter over Korea during the Korean War (1950-1953).




MEDIA









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 Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (382mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
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  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Grumman XF5F-1's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Roles
A2A
Interception
UAV
Ground Attack
CAS
Training
ASW
Anti-Ship
AEW
MEDEVAC
EW
Maritime/Navy
SAR
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
VIP
Passenger
Business
Recon
SPECOPS
X-Plane/Development
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
Supported Arsenal
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
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