Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

This Saturday, your Air Mail is brought here by an advanced experimental fighter, Buck Rogers at the controls*:

Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket

The Grumman G-34 proposal of 1938 for a single-seat twin-engined shipboard fighter anticipated the realization of an operational production example of such a type by quite a few years. In fact, the proposal was then considered to be so advanced that it bordered on the revolutionary; yet only four years later, on 18 April 1942,16 North American B-25 twin-engined bombers were flown off the USS Hornet to attack Tokyo.

Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket 3VNot only was the G-34 an advanced concept, in its original form it was a most unusual-looking aircraft, with the leading edge of its low-set monoplane wing forward of the fuselage nose. The tail unit had twin endplate fins and rudders, and the landing gear was of the retractable tailwheel type, with the main units retracting aft into the wing-mounted engine nacelles. Powerplant comprised two Wright R-1820 Cyclones, each with a three-bladed propeller, these being geared to counter-rotate to offset the effects of propeller torque.

Grumman XP-50 constructionGrumman XF5F Skyrocket full scale wind tunnel modelGrumman XF5F Skyrocket engine nacelleGrumman XF5F Skyrocket 0The US Navy was first to order a prototype, the XF5F-1, on 30 June 1938, which was flown for the first time on 1 April 1940.

Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket David Horn collectionGrumman XF5F Skyrocket 1939Grumman XF5F Skyrocket 1940Grumman XF5F SkyrocketA number of modifications were introduced subsequently, the most noticeable being an extension of the fuselage nose so that it terminated forward of the wing.

Grumman XF5F Skyrocket interiorGrumman XF5F Skyrocket dashboardGrumman XF5F Skyrocket Fuselage

Although failing to win a production order, the XF5F-1 soldiered on until withdrawn from use in December 1944, having done some useful work as a development prototype for the more advanced Grumman F7F.

A land-based version of Grumman's design interested the US Army Air Force, which ordered a single XP-50 prototype.

Grumman XP-50 Mockup 1Although generally similar to the naval version, it differed by having a lengthened nose to accommodate the nosewheel of the tricycle landing gear and had as powerplant two Wright R-1820-67/-69 turbocharged engines.

Grumman XP-50 Start Engine 1940Grumman XP-50 1Grumman XP-50 2Grumman XP-50 in flightGrumman XP-50

Grumman XP-50 3VFirst flown on 14 May 1941, the XP-50 was plagued with engine overheating problems and was eventually written off after suffering serious damage when a turbocharger exploded. No further examples of the XP-50 were built.

Grumman XP-50 Gear collapsedSource: Virtual Aircraft Museum


* Actually, the Skyrocket was tested by Selden "Connie" Converse. But who knows?..

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Comment by BandNerd 51 on July 2, 2012 at 10:59pm

This plane was used as the basis for the Blackhawk Comics. The comic ran for almost 10 years in the 1940s.

Comment by Pilsner Panther on July 1, 2012 at 12:21am

What an odd aircraft design— it looks like the wings are getting ahead of the fuselage, and the fuselage is struggling to keep up!

Comment by Cap'n Tony on June 30, 2012 at 11:56pm

Outstanding!  This one had always intrigued me for it's unconventional design.   I'd never seen images of the long-nose version!

"Skyyyyyrocket in flight!"

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