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Curtiss VF-11

Carrierborne Interceptor Proposal [ 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.

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.©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.
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.

Houses, or can house (through specialized variants), radar equipment for searching, tracking, and engagement of enemy elements.
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
Utilizes two or more types of propulsion systems to achieve desired performance / flight actions.
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
Mainplanes are designed to fold, improving storage on land and at sea.
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
Ability to operate over ocean in addition to surviving the special rigors of the maritime environment.
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.

29.9 ft
(9.10 m)
31.5 ft
(9.60 m)
Empty Wgt
10,141 lb
(4,600 kg)
11,872 lb
(5,385 kg)
Wgt Diff
+1,731 lb
(+785 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Curtiss VF-11 production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / delta
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Mainplanes are mounted along the midway point of the sides of the fuselage.
The planform takes on the general shape of a triangle in which the leading edges are swept back for high-speed efficiency while the trailing edge is straight.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the base Curtiss VF-11 production variant)
Installed: 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.
Max Speed
659 mph
(1,060 kph | 572 kts)
Cruise Speed
593 mph
(955 kph | 516 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+65 mph
(+105 kph | 57 kts)
50,033 ft
(15,250 m | 9 mi)
20,000 ft/min
(6,096 m/min)

♦ 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 Curtiss VF-11 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)
6 x 5" (127mm) High-Explosive (HE) spin-stabilized aerial rockets launched from lower fuselage port side.

Supported Types

Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets

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

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.

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