The Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) was established in 1918 by the United States Navy (USN) during the American involvement of World War 1 (1914-1918) to ensure the service's access to warplanes. The establishment ran throughout all of World War 2 (1939-1945) before going defunct in 1945. Before America's official involvement in the second global conflict, the service required fighters of all-modern design and eventually settled on two types, the Brewster Buffalo and the Grumman Wildcat.
However, the NAF also championed two forms of its own through the "Model A" and "Model B" (the focus of this article). The Model A relied on a conventional single-seat, single-engine arrangement and was to carry machine gun armament in its wings. The wings were of particular note for they utilized an inverted "gull-wing" form not unlike the soon-to-come Vought F4U "Corsair" naval fighter.
The Model B was a completely different approach to the USN requirement and, instead, was to rely on a twin-engine arrangement in which one was seated at the nose and the other at the end of the centralized fuselage. As a twin-boom fighter, the aircraft could house all pertinent systems in the fuselage while also carrying both engines instead of slinging the powerplants under each wing as was conventional.
The cockpit was seated just aft of the forward engine installation and a shallow bubble canopy was planned. The dorsal spine was slightly raised which defeated views to the rear (namely due to the second engine's placement and fuel stores that would be required).
The wing mainplanes were straight in their general shape with slight tapering at the trailing edges. Through each member emanated the boom structure which was joined at the rear by a shared horizontal plane. The booms were capped by rounded rudder fins.
Like the Model A, the Model B was to include a wholly-retractable, forward-thinking tricycle arrangement which made ground-running considerably safer for pilots on a carrier deck. The nose leg was positioned under and ahead of the cockpit floor with the main legs located under each tail boom assembly.
In terms of armament, the Model B was to also featured six, air-cooled / belt-fed machine guns, these buried near the wing roots.
As drawn up, the fighter was to have a running length of 40.5 feet with a wingspan reaching 46 feet. Power was to stem from 2 x Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled inline piston engines developing 1,150 horsepower each driving three-bladed propeller units in a "push-pull" configuration. Estimate performance specs included a maximum speed of 462 miles-per-hour (at over 22,000 feet altitude), a service ceiling up to 41,000 feet, and a range out to 1,315 miles.
In any event, the Model B was not selected for further work, joining its proposed Model A counterpart as nothing more than a footnote in U.S. naval aviation history.
(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.
40.5 ft (12.35 m)
46.1 ft (14.05 m)
10,659 lb (4,835 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Naval Aircraft Factory Model B production variant)
2 x Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,150 hrosepower each driving 2 x Three-bladed propeller units in "push-pull" configuration.
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