Aviation & Aerospace Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks U.S. Military Pay Special Forces DoD Dictionary (Alpha-to-Zulu) Military Alphabet Code

Stearman XA-21

Ground Attack Aircraft Prototype

United States | 1938

"The Stearman XA-21 was a proposed solution to a USAAC requirement for a twin-engined attacker."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/12/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The U.S. Army's road to the classic twin-engined attack aircraft of World War 2 (1939-1945) was a long one and saw many promising (and forgettable) types dropped from contention. This included the overlooked Stearman "XA-21" of which only one was built and failed to impress. The type first flew in 1938 but never materialized beyond its prototype status even after drastic changes had been implemented that included a redesigned nose. The product did, however, provide U.S. Army authorities exposure to twin-engined types (and their inherent strengths and weaknesses) that eventually led the adoption of platforms like the Douglas A-20 "Havoc" and North American B-25 "Mitchell" forms.

The XA-21 began life as the Stearman "Model X-100" and was developed to a standing USAAC ground attacker requirement. The Model X-100 was proposed with its unique nose section that showcased a long "greenhouse-style" canopy over the crew area. A twin-engine configuration was used to power the type (and was required by the USAAC for its new attacker). Three crew operated her various onboard systems and a conventional, single-finned tail unit was used. The wing mainplanes were high-mounted and each carried an engine nacelle. The engine of choice became 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2180-7 "Twin Hornet" radials outputting at 1,400 horsepower.

Proposed armament included a single Browning 0.30 caliber machine gun in the nose and four additional guns fitted to the wings (two each). Four additional Brownings (0.30 cal) were then installed to face aft and tackle any approaching interceptor. Up to 2,700lb of conventional drop ordnance would be carried to fulfill the bombing requirement.

After the Army acquired the X-100 it was redesignated XA-21 for its test phase. It was quickly found to hold an inherent design flaw - namely its long greenhouse canopy that restricted the pilot's forward vision - this meant poor ground running, take-off, and landing qualities. As such, engineers were forced to completely redesign the nose section and it was then reborn as a "stepped" cockpit approach somewhat reminiscent of the Consolidated B-24 "Liberator" heavy bomber (detailed elsewhere on this site). The XA-21 continued in testing but did not reveal any stunning revelations about her to recommend her for serial production.

This left just the sole prototype form completed.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Stearman XA-21 Ground Attack Aircraft Prototype.
2 x Pratt & Whitney R-2180-7 "Twin Hornet" radial piston engines developing 1,400 horsepower each.
162 mph
260 kph | 140 kts
Max Speed
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Stearman XA-21 Ground Attack Aircraft Prototype.
53.1 ft
16.18 m
O/A Length
65.0 ft
(19.80 m)
O/A Width
14.2 ft
(4.32 m)
O/A Height
12,787 lb
(5,800 kg)
Empty Weight
18,298 lb
(8,300 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Stearman XA-21 Ground Attack Aircraft Prototype .
1 x 0.30 caliber Browning machine gun in nose
4 x 0.30 caliber Browning machine guns in wings
4 x 0.30 caliber Browning machine guns facing aft

Up to 2,700lb of conventional drop ordnance.
Notable series variants as part of the Stearman XA-21 family line.
XA-21 - Base Series Deisgnation
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Stearman XA-21. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Stearman - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
1 / 2
Image of the Stearman XA-21
Original XA-21 design form; Image from the Public Domain.
2 / 2
Image of the Stearman XA-21
Revised XA-21 with stepped cockpit; Image from the Public Domain.

Going Further...
The Stearman XA-21 Ground Attack Aircraft Prototype appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)