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Hughes XR-11 / XF-11

United States (1946)
Picture of Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype
Picture of Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype

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.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype.  Entry last updated on 6/28/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. 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.

Any available statistics for the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 44 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (447mph).

    Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11'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 Comparison
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.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1946
Type: Long-Range Photographic Reconnaissance Aircraft Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Hughes Aircraft - USA
Production: 2
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical 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 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 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
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Hughes XR-11 / XF-11 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
65.42 ft


Meters
19.94 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
101.35 ft


Meters
30.89 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
23.16 ft


Meters
7.06 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
37,038 lb


Kilograms
16,800 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
58,202 lb


Kilograms
26,400 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360-31 radial piston engines developing 3,000 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
447 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
720 kph


Knots
389 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
4,971 mi


Kilometers
8,000 km


Nautical Miles
4,320 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
44,012 ft


Meters
13,415 m


Miles
8.34 mi

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

None.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• 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