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General Aviation XFA


Parasite Fighter Prototype


United States | 1932



"The General Aviation XFA was used in competition against a Curtiss and Berliner-Joyce design to satisfy a secretive USN parasite fighter requirement - it failed to impress."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 10/08/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
During the early 1930s, the United States Navy (USN) held an eye towards modernization amidst a backdrop of emerging threats. This resulting in Specification No.96 being drawn up calling for a new, all-modern shipborne fighter capable of performance on par with contemporaries - though the secret lay in a USN ambition to develop a lightweight "parasite" fighter for its airship fleet. The General Aviation Corporation (GAC) was one of the entrants into a competition which also went on to include the Berliner-Joyce "XFJ-1" and the Curtiss "XF9C-1". The company had origins in 1924, founded by Anthony Fokker himself, and ended as the predecessor to North American Aviation (makers of the World War 2-era P-51 "Mustang" and B-25 "Mitchell" classic aircraft.

The General Aviation brand label, itself, followed the U.S Fokker Aircraft Corporation (Atlantic Aircraft / Atlantic-Fokker).

The 1930s presented aeronautics students with a chance to evolve old-school design. While biplanes, fixed undercarriages, and open-air cockpits remained en vogue, development now allowed for metal internal structures and all-metal skinning on surfaces - enhancing tolerances and promoting greater speeds/performance.

The XFA-1, as presented to USN authorities, was largely conventional in its design arrangement: the engine was seated at the nose, the pilot positioned over midships, and the relying on a single vertical plane with low-set horizontal planes. A biplane wing arrangement was in play in which the upper member was of wider span than the lower and both joined by N-type struts creating a single-bay, unequal-span appearance. The upper wing was also joined into the upper line of the fuselage and not made of a single structure as was typical. Again the pilot sat in an open-air cockpit which offered view out over the upper wing member - but vision out-of-the-cockpit was still restricted by the biplane wings. The fixed undercarriage had a pair of wheeled main legs under the forward mass of the aircraft with a tailwheel positioned under the rear.

The fighter was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340-C "Wasp" series air-cooled radial piston engine developing an impressive 450 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose. This same powerplant went on to be used in the Boeing P-26 "Peashooter" USAAC fighter of 1932, the soon-to-come North American T-6 "Texan" military trainer, and the future Sikorsky H-19 "Chickasaw" utility helicopter. With nearly 35,000 units eventually built, the Wasp engine series stood as the predecessor to the famous R-985 "Wasp Junior".

All-metal construction was used where possible though wing and tail surfaces remained skinned in fabric.

Armament centered on 2 x 0.30 caliber medium machine guns fitted over the nose, synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades - enough offensive firepower to contend with any threat of the day.

Dimensions included a running length of 22.1 feet, a wingspan of 25.5 feet, and a height of 9.2 feet. Empty weight was 1,835lb with a gross rating of 2,510lb.

The USN tested the XFA-1 during March of 1932 and subsequent trials showed the type lacking in key areas when compared to its rivals. Controlling was deemed poor for a fighter which necessitated structure changes by General Aviation. The modifications did not help and throttle/nose up issues were consistent - resulting in an aircraft that was more dangerous to its pilot than to any enemy of the day.

As such, the design was ultimately rejected by the USN and General Aviation discontinued work on the type thereafter. The challengers of the standing USN requirement all saw rather limited success - a single XFA-1 was completed and flown while the Curtiss XF9C-1 won out and was evolved to become just seven operational examples of the F9C "Sparrowhawk" parasite fighter for the USN - these given up as soon as 1937 - and a single prototype of the Berliner-Joyce XFJ was tested/flown.

The XFA-1, as tested, managed a maximum speed of 170 miles-per-hour, a range out to 520 miles, and a service ceiling up to 20,200 feet. Rate-of-climb was 1,470 feet-per-minute.

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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 General Aviation XFA-1 Parasite Fighter Prototype.
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-C "Wasp" air-cooled radial piston engine developing 450 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Propulsion
171 mph
275 kph | 148 kts
Max Speed
20,210 ft
6,160 m | 4 miles
Service Ceiling
519 miles
835 km | 451 nm
Operational Range
1,470 ft/min
448 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
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 General Aviation XFA-1 Parasite Fighter Prototype.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
22.1 ft
6.75 m
O/A Length
25.5 ft
(7.77 m)
O/A Width
9.2 ft
(2.80 m)
O/A Height
1,841 lb
(835 kg)
Empty Weight
2,513 lb
(1,140 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 General Aviation XFA Parasite Fighter Prototype .
PROPOSED:
2 x 0.30 caliber (7.62mm) machine guns in the upper cowling synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the General Aviation XFA family line.
XFA - Base Project Designation.
XFA-1 - Single, flyable prototype example.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the General Aviation XFA. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): General Aviation Corporation (Fokker) - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (canceled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 200mph
Lo: 100mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (171mph).

Graph Average of 150 MPH.
Era Crossover
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
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the General Aviation XFA
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.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
RECONNAISSANCE
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.
Similar
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the General Aviation XFA Parasite Fighter Prototype.
Going Further...
The General Aviation XFA Parasite Fighter Prototype appears in the following collections:
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