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Curtiss XF14C


Carrier-Borne Fighter Prototype


United States | 1944



"The Curtiss XF14C carrier-based fighter existed in only one prototype form before seeing cancellation in 1945."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/16/2016 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Curtiss Aircraft enjoyed success with its inline piston-engined P-40 "Warhawk" series of fighters which went on to serve in many air forces of the time, seeing combat service throughout all of World War 2 in theaters from North Africa to China. The type was produced in nearly 14,000 examples and made the Curtiss-Wright Corporation a household name. However, the Warhawk served with the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) and Curtiss sought to reclaim its relationship with the air arm of the United States Navy (USN), now largely allied to the competing Grumman Aircraft concern for their carrier-based fighter needs. In 1941, a new USN requirement came down for a well-armed, carrier-borne monoplane interceptor and - in a departure from the norm which largely restricted USN fighter designs to air-cooled radial piston engines in nature - the new design would carry the equally new high performance Lycoming XH-2470-4 series liquid-cooled inline piston engine. Curtiss-Wright was awarded a development contract on June 30th, 1941 for two complete prototypes under the designation of "XF14C".

As development began on the new mount - formally designated as the "XF14C-1" - it was shown that the Lycoming engine of choice would not be able to meet the demands of the USN requirement. The focus now shifted to the developmental Wright XR-3350 "Duplex-Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine and the USN suggested this type for the first incomplete Curtiss XF14C-1 airframe. Curtiss engineers then allied the powerplant with 2 x three-bladed contra-rotating propellers to produce the new "XF14C-2" prototype which achieved first flight in July of 1944.

The new fighter aircraft fitted the Wright XR-3350-16 18-cylinder, twin-row air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,300 horsepower. This supplied the aircraft with a top speed of 424 miles per hour (296 mph cruise) at altitude with a range of 1,350 miles and a service ceiling of nearly 40,000 feet. Rate-of-climb was 2,700 feet per minute. Outwardly, the Curtiss design was conventional with a forward-set engine mounting and a traditional empennage. The cockpit was centered along the length of the fuselage length with a heavily glazed canopy offering up limited vision. The air-cooled engine forced a very deep forward fuselage which made the aircraft take on a rather portly appearance. The engine drove a pair of three-bladed propellers in a "contra-rotating" fashion for maximum output from the single engine fitting. The wings were straight appendages and low-mounted along the fuselage sides while all wing surfaces were rounded at their tips for a very clean and elegant look. The undercarriage was retractable with two main landing gear legs held under each wing. Standard armament was to be 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns or 4 x 20mm cannons, all mounted in the wings.

The XF14C-1 was formally cancelled in December of 1943 which allowed focus on the XF14C-2 design. Despite the different engine fitting and the use of contra-rotating propellers, performance of the type was still lacking when compared to her contemporaries and exceptional vibrations of the aircraft in flight were noted during testing. Additionally, the XR-3350 series engine consistently showcased teething issues that proved it unsuitable for the short term. Its availability in the long term was, also, questioned as these were slated for large-scale use in the new four-engined Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers required of the Pacific Theater. By this point in the war, the US Navy was already fielding the excellent Grumman F6F "Hellcat" and Vought F4U "Corsair" carrier-based fighters with tremendous success against Japanese airmen, further damning the XF14C program as the USN's new carrier-borne interceptor/fighter. As such, in the early part of 1945 the Curtiss XF14C program was officially cancelled by the USN, leaving just one completed prototype to show for the effort. Initial work on a version of the XF14C with a pressurized cockpit for high-altitude work was born as the "XF14C-3" but this design was never furthered.

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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 XF14C-2 Carrier-Borne Fighter Prototype.
1 x Wright XR-3350-16 18-cylinder, twin row, air-cooled radial piston engine developing 2,300 horsepower.
Propulsion
418 mph
673 kph | 363 kts
Max Speed
39,698 ft
12,100 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
1,530 miles
2,462 km | 1,329 nm
Operational Range
2,700 ft/min
823 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Curtiss XF14C-2 Carrier-Borne Fighter Prototype.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
37.7 ft
11.50 m
O/A Length
46.0 ft
(14.02 m)
O/A Width
17.0 ft
(5.18 m)
O/A Height
10,531 lb
(4,777 kg)
Empty Weight
14,950 lb
(6,781 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Curtiss XF14C Carrier-Borne Fighter Prototype .
PROPOSED:
6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns OR 4 x 20mm cannons in wings.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Curtiss XF14C family line.
XF14C - Base Project Model Designation
XF14C-1 - Initial Prototype; fitted with Lycoming XH-2470-4 liquid-cooled inline piston engine.
XF14C-2 - Revised Prototype; fitted with Wright R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone radial piston engine with 2 x three-bladed contra-rotating propellers.
XF14C-3 - Proposed high-altitude variant with pressurized cockpit.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Curtiss XF14C. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

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

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (418mph).

Graph Average of 375 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
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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1 / 3
Image of the Curtiss XF14C
Image from the Public Domain.
2 / 3
Image of the Curtiss XF14C
Image from the Public Domain.
3 / 3
Image of the Curtiss XF14C
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
INTERCEPTION
MARITIME / NAVY
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Curtiss XF14C Carrier-Borne Fighter Prototype appears in the following collections:
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