Even before the end of World War 2, the United States Navy (USN) was already looking well into the future and considering jet-powered types for its many aircraft carriers in service. There were inherent benefits to such aircraft types as far as carriers were concerned including reliability and thrust output for at-sea, over-water operations. However this would come at the expense of fuel consumption (limited range) and general complexity in both maintenance and repair. Nevertheless, the jet was the future of combat aviation and the USN contemplated its next move even before the end of the Empire of Japan had come.
The service's first jet-powered bird arrived in the form of the McDonnell FD "Phantom" (detailed elsewhere on this site) in August if 1947 but this was mainly due to the fact that McDonnell was not as tied up in wartime commitments as some of the USN's other major players. Sixty-two of the fighters were produced, these powered by Westinghouse turbojet engines, and the line was eventually evolved into the more successful McDonnell F2H "Banshee" in time (detailed elsewhere on this site).
Another entry in the early days of USN interest in jet-powered, carrier-capable designs emerged from Chance Vought - who was best known at the time for its exceptional piston-powered F4U "Corsair" monoplane fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site). The Chance Vought proposal was the "V-340" which called for a single Westinghouse 24C series turbojet outputting 3,000lb of thrust powering a single-seat monoplane aircraft form. The engine was both lightweight and compact so as to promote a lighter and compact fighter design in turn.
The V-340 incorporated the cockpit immediately aft of a short nosecone assembly which, coupled with a tear-drop style canopy, offered exception vision ahead. The jet was to be buried in a deep fuselage which incorporate two large fuel stores near the dorsal spine. The engine was aspirated by wingroot intakes and exhausted under the tail section, the latter reducing the need for an unnecessarily long jet pipe being used. The wing mainplanes were low-mounted along the sides of the fuselage and straight in their general shape with rounded tips (also hinged to fold for storage). The tail unit incorporated a single, rounded vertical plane and mid-mounted horizontal planes. A tricycle undercarriage (wholly retractable) would be used for deck-running. Construction would involve both wood and aluminum and rely on Vought's in-house "Metalite" process - which added further weight savings.
Dimensions included a length of 32 feet, 3 inches and a wingspan of 30 feet, 2 inches with a gross weight of 10,870lb.
Because the engine was fitted behind the pilot and the intakes found at the wingroots, armament could take up the space in the nose under the cockpit. Proposed armament was either 4 x 20mm automatic cannons or 6 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns.
Estimated performance figures for the V-340 included a top speed of 553 miles per hour with a rate-of-climb nearing 4,880 feet-per-minute and a combat radius reaching 345 miles. Range could be augmented by installation of wingtip fuel tanks - a common quality of early jet fighters.
Chance Vought promised the USN a flyable prototype as soon as October 1945 but the War in the Pacific ended in August and the V-340 design was not selected for further development. Beyond McDonnell's sixty or so Phantom aircraft completed, the service took on nearly 900 Banshee fighters to fulfill its carrier-based fighter requirement in the short term and it was this product that made up the USN and USMC's primary jet fighter strength heading into the Korean War (1950-1953).
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
32.3 ft (9.85 m)
30.1 ft (9.17 m)
18.9 ft (5.76 m)
7,716 lb (3,500 kg)
11,023 lb (5,000 kg)
+3,307 lb (+1,500 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Vought V-340 production variant)
1 x Westinghouse 24C turbojet engine developing 3,000lb of thrust.
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