Prior to the events that drove the United States into World War 2 (1939-1945), the United States Navy (USN) service branch was already looking to modernize its stable of aging fighter types. A myriad of options became available both well-known and lesser-known suppliers. It seemed that any and all design forms were considered by the service to bring it on par - or even surpass - the naval air arm capabilities of its period rivals - namely the Empire of Japan. Before the official start of the war for America, the fighters taken into service were the Brewster "Buffalo" and Grumman F4F "Wildcat" - both detailed elsewhere on this site.
Beyond these two notable entries were many proposed fighter forms. Even the USN's own "Naval Aircraft Factory" (NAF), arranged in 1918 during the American involvement in World War 1 (1914-1918), proposed two very different forms to fulfill the USN fighter requirement - these being the generically named "Model A" (the showcase of this article) and "Model B".
The Model A was of conventional arrangement, housing its single engine in the nose with the cockpit seated over midships and a single rudder making up the tail. The engine drove a four-bladed propeller unit with a large spinner at its center. The wing mainplanes were of an inverted "gull-wing" form, not unlike the Vought F4U "Corsair" Navy fighter still to come, and were mounted low along the sides of the fuselage. The tail unit also used traditional horizontal planes set low and neared the trailing edge of the single fin.
Proposed armament was to become 6 x Machine guns, most likely of 0.50 caliber and air-cooled (the Browning M2 being the prime candidate). The weapons were be installed as a trio in each wing giving the fighter formidable firepower against any threat of the day.
For ground-running, a rather forward-thinking tricycle arrangement (wholly-retractable) was planned for. Between this arrangement, and the relatively unobstructed canopy enclosure, the Model A would offer its pilot relatively good vision out-of-the-cockpit for a Navy plane.
The Model A, however, was not pursued despite its promising qualities. Similarly, the Model B - which differed considerably through its twin-engine "push-pull" arrangement and twin-boom layout - was not followed up on.
As drawn up, the Model A was given a running length of 38.7 feet with a wingspan reaching 46 feet. Gross weight was rated at 10,685lb. Power would have come from a single Wright R-3350 "Duplex Cyclone" supercharged twin-row, air-cooled radial piston engine producing 2,200 horsepower giving the fighter an estimated maximum speed of 420 miles-per-hour (at 28,000 feet altitude), a service ceiling up to 37,200 feet, and a range out to 1,080 miles.
(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.
38.7 ft (11.80 m)
46.1 ft (14.05 m)
10,692 lb (4,850 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Naval Aircraft Factory Model A production variant)
1 x Wright R-3350 "Duplex-Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,200 horsepower driving a four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
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