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Bell D-35

Rocket-Powered Bomber-Interceptor Proposal [ 1946 ]

The Bell D-35 was drawn up as a possible counter to the emerging Soviet nuclear-capable bomber threat following World War 2.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/19/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

The Bell D-35 was conceived of as a potential bomber-interceptor for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) towards the close of World War 2 (1939-1945). With the dismantling of the Italian, German, and Japanese war machines, the United States would now concentrate of airspace deterrence / defense from the Soviet threat in the East. Various design competitions were had in 1945 for just a solution - resulting in the ultimately-abandoned D-35.

The USAAF requirement called for an interceptor capable of reaching 700 miles-per-hour, achieving short-term supersonic performance through both aerodynamic design and powerplant. This aircraft would be capable of flying upwards of 50,000 of altitude to meet the threat head-on and rate-of-climb would have the system reach this in just four minutes under full power. In keeping with USAAF wartime tradition, the proposed armament fit would center on multiple machine guns, in this case 4 x 12.7mm air-cooled Browning heavies.

Bell was one of six respondents to this requirement, joining competitors Consolidated Vultee, Douglas, North American, Northrop, and Republic Aviation.

Because turbojet technology of the time would not allow for the needed thrust / power / speed output to get the aircraft up to altitude at-speed, it was decided that a rocket motor would be the best fit for the requirement. For the Bell submission, this would include a pairing of two rocket boosters for maximum performance set to output 12,000lb.

The resulting Bell design of October 1945 was centered on a delta-wing planform (45-degree sweep along the leading edges) with the single-seat cockpit over the nose and the vertical tail fins set at each wingtip. The mainplanes were shoulder-mounted along the sides of the fuselage with the propulsion system buried within. This unit would exhaust through a circular opening at the rear of the fuselage between the two mainplane trailing edges. The four machine guns were to be installed under the nose, beneath the cockpit floor, to give the aircraft an appropriate offensive punch against enemy bombers.

Like other rocket-driven developments of the day, the Bell proposal would be launched unconventionally, most likely by launch rail under its own booster power. This is assumed as only a pair of main landing gear legs were planned for ground-running actions along with skids added to each wingtip fin to allow the aircraft to land in an open field under its own weight and drag.

As drawn up, the fighter was to have an overall length of 28 feet, a wingspan of 26.5 feet, and a gross weight nearing 17,000lb - this ballooning to 29,100lb when fully laden.

Despite the work, the D-35 was not evolved beyond the paper stage - the requirement moving along the lines of the Consolidated Vultee and Republic Aviation submissions, leaving the D-35 with no further purpose. The two x-planes to come from this decision were the Republic XP-91/XF-91 and the CONVAIR XP-92, both detailed elsewhere on this site.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

Development Ended.


National flag of the United States United States (cancelled)
(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.
Ability to intercept inbound aerial threats by way of high-performance, typically speed and rate-of-climb.
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.

Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
Mainplanes capped with winglets, providing improved fuel efficiency and enhanced handling.
Inherent ability of airframe to take considerable damage.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.

28.1 ft
(8.55 m)
29.2 ft
(8.90 m)
Empty Wgt
17,196 lb
(7,800 kg)
29,101 lb
(13,200 kg)
Wgt Diff
+11,905 lb
(+5,400 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Bell D-35 production variant)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / delta, tailless
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
Delta, Tailless
The delta planform lacks a conventional tailplane arrangement with all wing surface area taken up by the delta planform.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Bell D-35 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Rocket booster motors generating 12,000lb of thrust each for high-speed, short-term flight.
Max Speed
699 mph
(1,125 kph | 607 kts)
Cruise Speed
600 mph
(965 kph | 521 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+99 mph
(+160 kph | 86 kts)
50,033 ft
(15,250 m | 9 mi)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Bell D-35 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
4 x 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) Browning air-cooled Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs).

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
Hardpoint Mountings: 0

D-35 - Base Series Designation.

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