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McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91

Carrierborne Supersonic Fighter Proposal

United States | 1953

"The McDonnell Model 90 and 91 project aircraft were developed along similar lines - though both failed to become the first supersonic performer for the USN."

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the McDonnell Model 90 Carrierborne Supersonic Fighter Proposal.
1 x Pratt & Whitney J57 afterburning turbojet engine developing 10,200lb thrust dry and 16,000lb of thrust with reheat.
1,056 mph
1,700 kph | 918 kts
Max Speed
59,055 ft
18,000 m | 11 miles
Service Ceiling
544 miles
875 km | 472 nm
Operational Range
35,000 ft/min
10,668 m/min
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the McDonnell Model 90 Carrierborne Supersonic Fighter Proposal.
48.4 ft
14.75 m
O/A Length
34.9 ft
(10.65 m)
O/A Width
19,092 lb
(8,660 kg)
Empty Weight
23,149 lb
(10,500 kg)
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91 Carrierborne Supersonic Fighter Proposal provided across 4 hardpoints.
2 x 20mm internal automatic cannons in forward fuselage OR 2 x 30-shot 50mm aerial rocket packs.
4 x AIM-7 "Sparrow" medium-range Air-to-Air Missiles (AAMs) at two hardpoints under each wing.

Hardpoints Key:

Not Used
Notable series variants as part of the McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91 family line.
Model 90 - Full-sized proposal with J57 turbojet engines.
Model 91 - Dimensionally smaller, lighter proposal with J5 turbojet engine.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/03/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

The quest for the United State Navy's (USN) first supersonic fighter was ultimately covered by Specification OS-130 (eventually fulfilled by the Vought F-8 "Crusader"). For aeroplane-maker McDonnell, the road to success began with an initial failure - the XP-67 "Bat" long-range interceptor prototype of the World War 2 period detailed elsewhere on this site. Between this and the competing Crusader of 1955 was a collection of jet fighters produced by the company that included the original "Phantom" followed by the "Banshee" and F-101 "Voodoo" with many more project aircraft emerging in-between - the XF-88 "Voodoo", the XF-85 "Goblin" parasite fighter, and various paper-only forms under equally-various model numbers.

A pair of entries drawn up to satisfy the new Navy requirement became McDonnell "Model 90" and "Model 91". The aircraft were to be armed with cannon or aerial rockets and missiles while being directed by the APG-34 series radar unit housed in the nose. The Model 90 would be powered by the Pratt & Whitney J57 turbojet engine developing 10,200lb on dry thrust and up to 16,000lb of output with reheat engaged while the Model 91 differed in being dimensionally more compact (and therefore lighter) than its predecessor and it was slated to carry the Wright J65 engine of 7,600lb / 11,000lb, respectively.

In both proposals, the airframe took on an elegant, aerodynamic refined appearance. The single-seat cockpit was sat behind the radar-housing nosecone assembly and a ventrally-mounted intake controlled the flow of air to the air-breathing turbojet engine buried within the fuselage. This unit exhausted from under the empennage. The tail unit extended out and over the exhaust port (as in the company's F-101), the tail comprised of the usual triplane arrange of a single rudder and two horizontal control surfaces. A wheeled, retractable tricycle undercarriage would aid ground-running actions and the usual features, such as folding mainplanes and an arrestor hook, would make the fighter "carrier-friendly".

One of the more notable features of the jet was its thin wing mainplanes which were tapered toward the clipped tips. These members were mid-mounted along the sides of the fuselage and of straight design. The super-thin wing was expected to offer minimal drag and maintain the expected supersonic speeds - though it prohibited any fuel, weapons, or undercarriage gear from being stowed in it.

Primary armament was to be 2 x Internal automatic cannons (presumably 20mm) set within the sides of the forward fuselage. This pairing could be substituted for 2 x Rocket-housing canisters holding 30 x 50mm aerial rockets providing considerable hitting power. In addition to this, two underwing hardpoints were assigned to each mainplane to support the "Sparrow" medium-ranged Air-to-Air Missile (AAM).

The Model 90 was to have a wingspan of 35 feet with a weight up to 23,000lb. Its general arrangement, shaping, and engine would have allowed for estimated speeds of 1,055 miles-per-hour at altitude with full afterburner. Of the two designs promoted, the Model 90 appears to have been the favored one within the company. Range was out to 470 nautical miles.

Comparatively, the Model 91 had a wingspan of 32.8 feet and a weight up to 18,000lb. Its maximum speed was just under 810mph at altitude with full reheat. Range was out to 469 nautical miles.

In any even event, neither design progressed beyond the paper stage and there were competing designs put forth from major players such as North American, Northrop, Temco, and - of course - Chance Vought.

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Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 0 Units

Contractor(s): McDonnell Aircraft Company - USA
National flag of the United States

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Image of the McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91
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Going Further...
The McDonnell Model 90 / Model 91 Carrierborne Supersonic Fighter Proposal appears in the following collections:
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