The American aviation concern of Kaiser-Fleetwings was formed during World War 2 (1939-1945) in 1943 with the purchase of Fleetwings by industrialist/shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser (1882-1967) and his Kaiser Industries of Bristol, Pennsylvania. During the war period, this little-remembered company presented a few, largely forgotten, combat aircraft designs for consideration by the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) and the United States Navy (USN) with the greatest "success" achieved by the ultimately-abandoned XBTK-1 of 1945 (five were built and tested by the service; this aircraft is detailed elsewhere on this site).
In February of 1944, with the conclusion of the war still largely in doubt, the company attempted to interest the USN in its proposed "Model 47" attacker / dive bomber to serve on American carriers.
The Model 47, also known (for whatever reason) as the "Squirt", arrived at a time when the turbojet engine and rocket-boosted power were gaining steam in aviation circles. As such, the "mixed-powerplant" arrangement rose to achieve a certain level of interest for military services like the USAAF and USN. The Model 47 followed this line of thinking in attempting to mate a pair of British-originated, American-built Packard "Merlin" inline engines with a pair of Westinghouse turbojets for considerable, concentrated performance power. All this was tied to a well-streamlined fuselage which would have seated a single crewman and carried machine gun or cannon armament as standard as well as serve with a modest bomb load and support air-to-surface rockets for the attack role.
Kaiser-Fleetwings engineers drew up an aerodynamically-refined platform showcasing the single-seat cockpit ahead of a short nosecone and mainplanes and under a tear-drop-style clear-view canopy offering exceptional views above and around the aircraft (downward views were obstructed by the mainplane's positioning). The fuselage was elegantly-tapered towards the tail to which was fitted a single rounded vertical fin complete with low-set horizontal planes. The wing mainplanes were positioned ahead of midships and seated low against the sides of the rounded fuselage. Each mainplane was given a straight leading edge, tapering trailing edge, and finished off with squared-off tips. The wings held the engines in underslung nacelles originated well-ahead of the leading edge and terminated well-beyond the trailing edge. Each nacelle was to (rather handily - and perhaps optimistically) house both the inline piston engine as well as the Westinghouse turbojet, the latter seated under the former and exhausted well-behind the wing trailing edges. A tricycle undercarriage was envisioned for ground-running and deck actions and it is assumed arrestor gear and wing-folding (hinging outboard of the engine nacelles) would have figured into this navy-minded aircraft. Due to its low-level attack role, the Model 47 was to be equipped with cockpit and engine armoring for maximum survival as well as self-sealing fuel tanks.
Proposed standard armament centered on 4 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 air-cooled Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) seated in the hollowed out nose cone - this made possible by positioning the engines at the wings. The machine guns could just as easily be replaced by 4 x 20mm autocannons for a more definitive frontal "punch" against ground (and in some cases airborne) targets. Beyond this there was an optional bomb load of up to 4,000lb with a hardpoint found along fuselage centerline and underwing.
The Packard Merlin liquid-cooled inline engines were rated at 1,600 horsepower each (x2) and these would have driven two pairs of three-bladed propeller units in "contra-rotating" fashion by way of extended spinners ahead of the nacelles. The Westinghouse turbojets would have added an additional 2,200lb of thrust (each unit) for an exceptional boost in performance capabilities.
As finalized, the Model 47 was given an overall length of 59.4 feet and a wingspan of 69 feet. Gross weight reached over 30,000lb. Engineers estimated a maximum speed reaching over 400 miles-per-hour and a combat range out to 2,600 miles (600 mile radius).
The Model 47 was not selected for development and some issues from the available design drawings were notable: the mixed-powerplant approach would have been a complex system for both repairing and general maintenance at-sea while the overall size of the aircraft would have severely restricted it from being used on the smaller USN fleet carrier types of the wartime period. Fuel burn for the turbojet engines would have been an inherent concern, limiting their usefulness in the long-term. Another sticking point was the USN's preference for using air-cooled radial engine types to drive their prop aircraft - the service deeming these more survivable in combat than delicate, complex inline forms.
Beyond this, the aircraft may very well have been a solid, if very fast, performer with a relatively impressive war load capability. Its role was eventually filled by other, more modest and traditional, designs such as the solely-prop-driven Grumman F7F "Tigercat" - which shares a similarity in design configuration (twin, outboard engines) with the Model 47.
(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.
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Close-Air Support (CAS)
Developed to operate in close proximity to active ground elements by way of a broad array of air-to-ground ordnance and munitions options.
✓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.
59.4 ft (18.12 m)
69.1 ft (21.05 m)
17.1 ft (5.20 m)
20,723 lb (9,400 kg)
30,005 lb (13,610 kg)
+9,281 lb (+4,210 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Kaiser-Fleetwings Model 47 production variant)
2 x Packard "Merlin" liquid-cooled inline piston engines driving 2 x Three-bladed propeller units in contra-rotating fashion with 2 x Westinghouse turbojet engines developing 2,200lb of thrust each.
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