Boeing XAT-15 (Crewmaker) - United States, 1942
Detailing the development and operational history of the Boeing XAT-15 (Crewmaker) Bomber-Crew Trainer Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 6/8/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Boeing XAT-15 was planned as a Bomber-Crew Training platform but the original order for 1,000 aircraft was cancelled and just two prototypes were completed.
The increasing complexity of modern military bomber aircraft of the late-1930s and early-1940s, coupled with the threat of war in Europe and the Pacific, prompted the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) to seek out a dedicated bomber-trainer platform. Bombers of the day were seen with specialized stations for each crewman ranging from bombardier and navigator to radioman and machine gunner. Traditionally, the bombardier held the best view from the airplane, this at the nose, with the navigator usually close behind. The radioman was positioned somewhere aft of the cockpit and machine gun emplacements were set about the aircraft to provide a defense network against intercepting enemy fighters.
The Boeing XAT-15 became one candidate to fulfill the potentially lucrative USAAC deal for 1,000 aircraft. A twin-engine arrangement was selected to better train prospective pilots, copilots, and flight engineers on the nuisances of multi-engine operation and a deep fuselage was used to accommodate the crew and instructors. Internally there lay a bomb bay with a capacity for ten 100lb conventional drop bombs and four 0.30 caliber machine guns were fitted for practicing aerial defense against moving targets from a moving platform. The aircraft was given a high-wing monoplane form and single-rudder tail unit, the latter with low-set horizontal planes. The nose was partially glazed and a stepped cockpit arrangement used that overlooked the nose - the pilots given good views of each engine nacelle found along each wing leading edge. A tail-dragger, wheeled undercarriage was fitted and the engines of choice became 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1 "Wasp" air-cooled radial piston units slung under the wings. The construction makeup of the aircraft involved welded steel tubing covered over in plywood - this necessitated by the scarcity of metals needed for the American war effort now underway.
First flight of an XAT-15 prototype occurred during 1942 and this became one of the earliest projects handed to the Wichita (Kansas) Division of Boeing (the facility formerly the Stearman Aircraft Company until 1939). Performance specs included a maximum speed of 207 miles per hour, a range out to 850 miles and a service ceiling up to 18,900 feet.
The XAT-15 initiative was eventually cancelled in light of the growing American commitment to World War 2 following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941. This left the XAT-15 low on the list of priorities for the USAAC which turned its attention to procurement of bombers of many kinds. Dedicated trainers were a luxury and training platforms were simply molded from existing bomber designs for expediency - leaving the XAT-15 without a role or buyer to be had.