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Hughes XR-11 / XF-11


Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype


Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 2
Image from the Public Domain.
2 / 2
Image from the Public Domain.

The Hughes XF-11 reconnaissance-minded platform only saw two prototypes completed - the first crashing into the suburb of Beverly Hills with Howard Hughes at the controls.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 6/28/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
Though only achieving prototype form, the XF-11 was one of the darling designs of famed American aviator Howard Hughes. Looking very much like an oversized Lockheed P-38, the twin-boom XF-11 was designed to fulfill a United States military requirement for a long-range photographic reconnaissance fighter. The project progressed with great potential until a disastrous crash of Prototype 1 in the suburbs of Beverly Hills (nearly taking the life of Hughes himself) effectively caused the cancellation of the entire project. The XF-11 would face off with Republic's offering of the XF-12 "Rainbow" only to see neither design chosen at project's end.

The XF-11 was of a traditional twin-boom design, popularized in other forms such as the Northrop P-61 Black Widow and the aforementioned Lockheed P-38 Lightning. The first of two prototypes featured contra-rotating propeller systems on each engine, offering up a great deal of power and performance potential at the cost of increased maintenance and production times. The X-11 featured a powered tricycle landing gear system which proved successful in other designs during the Second world War. The fuselage was constructed of all metal with a two-man crew - the pilot and a radio operator - in a center-fuselage nacelle with complete cabin pressurization for high-altitude capability. Pratt & Whitney brand engines were selected to power the design and these powerplants would turn two four-bladed propeller systems with variable pitch settings. With the Beverly Hills crash blamed on engine failure, the second XF-11 prototype was engineered with traditional non-contra-rotating propeller blade systems.

By all respects, the XF-11 performed admirably well considering the dramatic series of setbacks to the project. Stability and control at high speeds was especially noteworthy though exception was made to the low-altitude stability and performance the system encouraged. A complicated aircraft to fly when compared to others of this type, the XF-11 was nonetheless a capable design in most respects.

Pitted against the Republic XF-12, the XF-11 was deemed as too costly to maintain and produce along with the complications inherent in the system's design. Even with the XF-12 having an edge, the United States Air Force ultimately went with the Boeing produced RB-50 reconnaissance aircraft, citing its respectable range and reconnaissance capabilities equal to that of either XF offering with a lesser price tag.


Specifications



Year:
1946
Status
Cancelled
Crew
2
[ 2 Units ] :
Hughes Aircraft - USA
National flag of United States United States (cancelled)
- Reconnaissance (RECCE)
- X-Plane / Developmental
Length:
65.42 ft (19.94 m)
Width:
101.35 ft (30.89 m)
Height:
23.16 ft (7.06 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 production model)
Empty Weight:
37,038 lb (16,800 kg)
MTOW:
58,202 lb (26,400 kg)
(Diff: +21,164lb)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 production model)
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-31 radial piston engines developing 3,000 horsepower each.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 production model)
Max Speed:
447 mph (720 kph; 389 kts)
Service Ceiling:
44,012 feet (13,415 m; 8.34 miles)
Max Range:
4,971 miles (8,000 km; 4,320 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
None.
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 production model)
XF-11 - Original Series Designation; 2 examples produced with the first offering featuring contra-rotating blades and the second with traditional propeller blade assemblies.
XR-11 - Later Designation
General Assessment
Firepower  
Performance  
Survivability  
Versatility  
Impact  


Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of a possible 100.
22
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (447mph).

Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LDN
LDN
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MSK
MSK
 
  TKY
TKY
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 operational range when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (2)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Max Altitude Visualization
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