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North American NA-40


Attack Aircraft / Light Bomber Prototype


United States | 1939



"Just a single example of the proposed North American NA-40 attack platform was built and tested against a USAAC requirement."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/01/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Even before the classic North American B-25 "Mitchell" twin-engine medium bomber of World War 2 fame could be realized, the North American Aviation concern had to progress through a series of twin-engine designs, all intended to satisfy existing United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) requirements for a twin-engine attacker. The "attack" aircraft was born from the need to provide ground elements with on-spot firepower where a fighter simply could not and a traditional bomber was overkill. As all ground and at-sea warfare eventually evolved to require such a dedicated type, global military powers around the world scoured for capable over-battlefield designs. The United States during the World War 2 period held a considerable interest in twin-engine attack/bomber types - as embodied by the likes of the B-25, Douglas A-26 "Invader", and Martin B-26 "Marauder" - and design work ramped up as the war got underway.

The new requirement was born in the pre-World War 2 years during 1937 and evolved some by 1938 leading North American Aviation to champion their new "NA-40" prototype (following on its work on the sole, abandoned XB-21 "Dragon" prototype of 1936). The aircraft showcased a deep fuselage with a well-glazed-over nose section, stepped flight deck, and short/upwards-tapering empennage. The tail section held two rudder fins outboard, joined to the fuselage horizontal planes. The wing mainplane members were straight in their general design form and each were given underslung engine nacelles used to drive three-bladed propeller units in tractor fashion. A wheeled, retractable undercarriage was utilized for ground running - though the legs were somewhat short and, together with its shortened tail section, gave the aircraft something of a rather portly appearance when on the ground.

In its initial prototype form, NA-40 was powered by twin Pratt & Whitney R-1830-56C3G air-cooled radial piston engines of 1,100 horsepower each. Dimensions included a length of 48.2 feet with a wingspan of 66 feet. Internally, the aircraft operated through a crew of five and carried a war load of up to 2,100 pounds. Defensive gun positions were planned at the nose and at dorsal / ventral positions. First-flown on January 29th, 1939, this version did not impress (a maximum speed of just 265mph was reached during testing) and was therefore redrawn to become the NA-40B (also known as "NA-40-2").

NA-40B switched to a pair of Wright R-2600-A71-3 "Twin Cyclone" 14-cylinder, air-cooled radials of 1,275 horsepower (each) instead and also incorporated slight revisions throughout to address both instability and power/performance lacking in the first attempt. Maximum speed was increased to 309 miles-per-hour while all other traits of the aircraft remained largely faithful to the original.

However, the sole prototype of the program was eventually lost to a crash on April 11th, 1939 before the project gained enough steam. It was not recovered and the NA-40 was subsequently ended. Nevertheless, North American's commitment to the NA-40 prototype lead to its excellent B-25 "Mitchell" of the World War 2 period (detailed elsewhere on this site).

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the North American NA-40 Attack Aircraft / Light Bomber Prototype.
2 x Wright R-2600-A71-3 "Twin Cyclone" 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines developing 1,275 horsepower driving three-bladed propeller units.
Propulsion
311 mph
500 kph | 270 kts
Max Speed
25,000 ft
7,620 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
1,199 miles
1,930 km | 1,042 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the North American NA-40 Attack Aircraft / Light Bomber Prototype.
5
(MANNED)
Crew
48.2 ft
14.70 m
O/A Length
66.0 ft
(20.12 m)
O/A Width
20,999 lb
(9,525 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the North American NA-40 Attack Aircraft / Light Bomber Prototype .
PROPOSED:
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun in trainable mounting at nose position.
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun in trainable mounting at dorsal position.
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun in trainable mounting at ventral / waist position.

Up to 2,100lb of conventional drop bombs / drop ordnance.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the North American NA-40 family line.
NA-40 - Base Project Designation; single prototype completed; model of January 1939 flown with 2 x PRatt & Whitney R-1830-56C3G radials.
NA-40B (NA-40-2) - Revised design of March 1939 carrying 2 x Wright R-2600-A71-3 radials.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the North American NA-40. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): North American Aviation - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (311mph).

Graph Average of 300 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Future
1 / 1
Image of the North American NA-40
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
GROUND ATTACK
CLOSE-AIR SUPPORT
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The North American NA-40 Attack Aircraft / Light Bomber Prototype appears in the following collections:
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