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McDonnell Model 40 / 40A

Carrierborne Day Fighter Proposal [ 1948 ]

The McDonnell Model 40 comprised three fighter forms for a USN carrierborne day fighter requirement - none were advanced beyond the paper stage.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 06/08/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

McDonnell's first foray into combat fighter design resulted in the short-lived XP-67 "Moonbat". Following this, the company made a name for itself as a primary supplier of jet-powered fighters to the United States Navy (USN), solidifying itself in American aerospace lore. The company certainly had a way with drawing up elegant designs and this went on to include the FH Phantom, the F3H Demon, and the A-4 Skyhawk - the company's pinnacle product becoming the F-4 Phantom II of the Cold War period.

Following the close of World War 2 (1939-1945), amidst a backdrop of advancing turbojet technology set to replace piston-powered combat aircraft, the USN sought a jet-powered day fighter for which to launch from its large fleet of aircraft carriers. This initiative resulted in Specification OS-105 arriving at the end of 1946. The call went out to industry players in Chance Vought, Curtiss-Wright, Douglas, Martin, and others that included McDonnell. The fighter would have to be of an advanced type, capable of straightline speeds of 600 to 650 miles-per-hour with a range out to 345 miles and a service ceiling of 40,000 feet. As a quick-reaction solution launched from carrier decks, a fast rate-of-climb was appreciated and the requirement sought something in the range of 10,000 feet-per-minute.

McDonnell engineers returned with three possible candidates under the "Model 40" project designation. While all of the submissions were equipped with 2 x Westinghouse 24C-6 series afterburning turbojet engines, the first two entries differed in their tailplane arrangement - the first featuring a single fin with upward-canted horizontal planes and the second switching to a V-type tailplane arrangement, doing away with the centralized rudder. All utilized a swept-back monoplane planform to help achieve the high-speed performance sought by USN authorities.

The initial submissions buried their turbojets separately in the wing roots, jettisoning exhaust at the wing trailing edge ahead of the empennage. Intakes for the air-breathing engines were triangular in their general shaping, airflow to pass unobstructed to the powerplants. The mainplanes were positioned slightly ahead of midships for balance.

The pilot was given a commanding view over and aft of the short nosecone assembly. A retractable, wheeled undercarriage (the nose leg allowing for a "kneeling" effect) would be used for ground-running and a tailhook for arresting on the carrier deck when landing. Folding wings would be used to improve storage space within the carrier hangar decks.

The Westinghouse 24C-6 turbojet promised an output rating of 3,000lb each, the combined thrust set to make this McDonnell Navy fighter one of the fastest in the world.

Expected standard armament was to comprise 4 x 20mm internal automatic cannons with two guns seated in the lower sides of the nose assembly. Future consideration was made for "up-gunning" these to 4 x 60mm types to contend with emerging threats.

The McDonnell 40A was the third aircraft of the proposed lot. This design form was something of a near-complete rewrite to the original approach. The engines were moved from the wingroots to the fuselage proper and fresh air was taken in through a nose-mounted intake instead. This reformed the wings to a more elegant shape (still retaining sweepback) and moved the guns to a higher mounting along the sides of the nose while also increasing the dimensions of the fuselage. A single-finned tailplane (with upward-canted horizontal planes) would make up the empennage.

In any case, none of these proposed designs was accepted for further work by the USN.©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.

Survivability enhanced by armor allocated to protect pilot / crewspaces and / or critical operating systems.
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 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.
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.

46.1 ft
(14.05 m)
38.5 ft
(11.75 m)
Empty Wgt
14,958 lb
(6,785 kg)
17,229 lb
(7,815 kg)
Wgt Diff
+2,271 lb
(+1,030 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the McDonnell Model 40 production variant)
monoplane / mid-mounted / swept-back
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 features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the McDonnell Model 40 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Westinghouse 24C-6 series afterburning turbojet engines developing 3,000lb of thrust each.
Max Speed
662 mph
(1,065 kph | 575 kts)
Cruise Speed
621 mph
(1,000 kph | 540 kts)
Max. Speed Diff
+40 mph
(+65 kph | 35 kts)
49,213 ft
(15,000 m | 9 mi)
345 mi
(555 km | 1,028 nm)
10,300 ft/min
(3,139 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 McDonnell Model 40 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 20mm internal automatic cannons OR 4 x 60mm internal automatic cannons.

Supported Types

Graphical image of an aircraft automatic cannon

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

Model 40 - Base project designation; second design with V-type tail unit.
Model 40A - Engines relocated to fuselage; nose-mounted intake; conventional tail unit.

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