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Curtiss VF-11

Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal

United States | 1947

"The Curtiss VF-11 was unsuccessfully proposed as a United States Navy carrierborne fighter-interceptor in the immediate post-World War 2 years."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/06/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
In the path towards a viable post-World War 2 high-performance fleet defender, the United States Navy (USN) laid down the groundwork for what was to become Specification "OS-113" in 1948. As with land-based interceptors, this new, all-modern design would feature an exceptional rate-of-climb once in the air, made possible through turbojet technology and (possibly) rocket-boosted assistance. The requirement centered on a single-seat design and, it being a naval aircraft at heart, should showcase those qualities common to maritime-based combat operations including a deck-launching quality, arrestor hook landing feature, and folding wing mainplanes.

As a "fleet defender", this new fighter would have to respond in short order to the initial ping on ground-based radar. From there, the aircraft would have to launch, at-speed, and drive to altitude to meet the inbound threat. Since operational range was not so much an issue in this design, engineers would be allowed some flexibility in the end-product concerning fuel stores and fuel burn. At the end of the day, the aircraft needed to be fast (approximately 450 miles-per-hour straightline speeds), powerful (most likely through twin jet-engines), and hold an armament suite capable of dealing with the airborne threat (either large-caliber automatic cannons or fin-stabilized aerial rockets) - threats of the time being primarily Soviet in nature. Altitude needed to be reached in under four minutes and direction to the target area was to be had by AN/APG-22 series X-band gun radar system coupled with an Mk 1Fire Control System (FCS).

While the requirement was eventually met by, not one but two, fighters - the Douglas F4D "Skyray" and McDonnell F3H "Demon" - there were several other proposals drawn up prior to and during this period that included the usual Navy defense players such as Curtiss.

For the Curtiss concern, these emerged through drawings sponsored from 1946 onwards, following the close of World War 2 and prior to the official USN specification of 1948. For their part in the story, these attempts were laid out to "see into the future" regarding USN fighter needs resulting in the Curtiss "VF-11" which then evolved to become a series of fighter proposals all centered on a hoped-for Navy requirement as it geared up for work against the Soviet Union. This initiative begat the original VF-11 and the subsequent VF-11A and the VF-11B proposals all of which appeared in the latter part of 1946.

For the original VF-11, the planform that Curtiss engineers settled on was a "tailed delta" with clipped mainplane tips - resulting in an elegant arrow-like shape showcasing inherently clean lines, solid stability / control, and increased internal volume for components such as avionics, armament, and fuel. The delta-wing planform also negated the use of horizontal tailplanes in the design, creating a three-winged shape with fewer obstructions (and therefore less drag) instead. Beyond the expansive surface area were large-area surface controls for maximum agility at each of the plane trailing edges. The rudder fin was of particular note as it was another large-area plane, reaching high above the cockpit line, and had a curved edge.

In the arrangement, the single crewman could take up his position at the nose under a three-piece canopy with armament featured along the left side of the nose (in this case a single rocket-launching tube-like system). To aspirate the engine pairing, intakes were seated along the sides of the fuselage (since the rocket motor was not an air-breathing engine, it did not require an intake). The single vertical fin was affixed over the empennage and sat over the exhaust ports at the rear. For ground-running, a standard tricycle undercarriage would be used showcasing a nose wheel on an extended leg and shorter main legs under center mass.

To cover the extreme performance requirements, the company would rely on 2 x Westinghouse 24C-4B afterburning turbojet engines of 3,000 lb (dry) to 4,200 lb thrust (with reheat) coupled with an additional 1,000lb of thrust to come from a dedicated, single-use, short-burn rocket booster / motor for instant acceleration. Combined, the arrangement would give this fleet defender considerable performance as it cut its way through the skies to reach threats as high up as 40,000-to-45,000 feet out to a range of 100 miles from the carrier. The engines were to be seated in the middle-aft section of the fuselage in a conventional side-by-side arrangement.

Armament of this design was a departure from the usual assortment of heavy machine guns or automatic cannons favored by American warplanes of the war period. Instead, a wholly-rocket suite was envisioned for the interceptor - giving appropriate firepower against any aerial threat of the day. Up to six 5" (127mm) High-Explosive (HE) aerial rockets were to be carried and these launched through an opening cut out at the lower left side of the fuselage (port side).

At any rate, the VF-11 was not furthered beyond its paper stage and the VF-11A and VF-11B followed with the same result. The A-model offering simplified the approach by using a single British Rolls-Royce turbojet engine with reworked intakes and was given a clipped tail rudder. The B-model was completely rearranged to feature a more conventional mainplane arrangement though with outward-canted "V-style" tailplanes.

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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 Curtiss VF-11 Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal.
2 x Westinghouse 24C-4B afterburning turbojet engines developing 3,000lb dry thrust and 4,200lb thrust with reheat; 1 x Rocket booster motor generating additional short-term thrust of 1,000lb rating.
659 mph
1,060 kph | 572 kts
Max Speed
593 mph
955 kph | 516 kts
Cruise Speed
50,033 ft
15,250 m | 9 miles
Service Ceiling
20,000 ft/min
6,096 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Curtiss VF-11 Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal.
29.9 ft
9.10 m
O/A Length
31.5 ft
(9.60 m)
O/A Width
10,141 lb
(4,600 kg)
Empty Weight
11,872 lb
(5,385 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Curtiss VF-11 Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal .
6 x 5" (127mm) High-Explosive (HE) spin-stabilized aerial rockets launched from lower fuselage port side.
Notable series variants as part of the Curtiss VF-11 family line.
VF-11 - Base Fighter Proposal of 1946.
VF-11A - Revised proposal with squared-off vertical tail fin and single Rolls-Royce turbojet engine.
VF-11B - Revised proposal showcasing more traditional fighter design mainplane wing arrangement; outward-canted V-style tail unit.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Curtiss VF-11. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): Curtiss - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (659mph).

Graph Average of 563 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
MACH Regime (Sonic)
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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Image of the Curtiss VF-11
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Developments of similar form-and-function, or related, to the Curtiss VF-11 Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal.
Going Further...
The Curtiss VF-11 Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal appears in the following collections:
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