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The Island of Misfit Piston Engine Aircraft


LostCosmonaut
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During the early years of aviation, many aircraft were built. Some achieved widespread success. Most did not. This thread is for the second category.

 

I'll start of by presenting my fetish for multiple engines on common driveshafts.

 

The Ki-64, with a (Japanese clone of) a DB601 in both the front and back;

 

kawasaki-ki64-rob.jpg

 

The XB-42 Mixmaster, which has a name more suited for a kitchen appliance than a strategic bomber;

 

Douglas-XB-42-Mixmaster-10.jpg

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629px-Douglas_XSB2D_Destroyer_left_side.

 

XSB2D Destroyer with groovy top and bottom turrets, but the Navy quickly changed its mind. It wound up becoming the XBTD-2 with mixed propulsion. This was a reasonably popular thing for a bit, adding a jet instead of a rear gunner to provide rear protection by speed.

 

TB2D_Skypirate.jpg

 

XTB2D Skypirate. Designed for the larger later carriers. Fit an R-4360 with counter rotating propellers. Could carry four torpedoes or an equivalent bomb load. Don't let the single engine fool you, the thing could carry as much as four TBFs (and they considered stuffing a jet in the back). It was about the same empty weight and had a longer wingspan than a B-25 Mitchell.

 

Grumman_XTB2F.jpg

 

Grumman XTB2F. Yes that's a proposed carrier torpedo bomber. I'm sure you can see the biggest problem with that idea. But what I'm pretty sure you didn't notice the significance of is yes, that is a 75mm gun, and it would be accompanied by six .50 cals. And that's a radar in the wing because why not at that point. They also had a much more sensible idea for a torpedo bomber, the XTSF-1, which was a F7F modified with a TBF torpedo bay and an air to surface radar in the nose.

 

YP-37.jpg

 

YP-37, an early attempt to fit a turbosupercharged inline in the Hawk airframe. Basically an abortive attempt at what the P-40 was, but with bad visibility and stability.

 

800px-SNC-1_in_flight_off_Puerto_Rico_19

 

The SNC-1, originally the CW-22. A two seat fighter. They took the CW-21, a super lightweight fighter that got good performance at the expense of durability even when compared to the Zero, and added a rear gunner. It rather quickly became a training plane instead because that's not an awful idea.

 

Curtiss_XP-62_061024-F-1234P-022.jpg

 

The XP-62, the last hurrah of Curtiss-Wright fighter design. Originally promising with a R-3350 providing a ton of power going into a counterrotating prop. Got passed by because Curtiss-Wright was failing as a company with a ton of similar projects cannibalizing each other. Overall a mess.

 

NOT PICTURED: There were attempts to to add a turbosupercharger and intercooler to the P-39. One try was in a belly pod. Top speed dropped 40 mph. The next try was in a saddleback right over the cockpit. Top speed dropped by 45 mph.
 

Republic_XP-47H.jpg

 

This otherwise unoffensive looking sort is the XP-47H. Yep. It's a thunderbolt, testing the XIV-2220-1 16 cylinder inverted V engine. It didn't work very well. Meanwhile cleaning up and lightening the thing with a radial produced the J, which using a mass-produced engine and propeller cleared 500 mph.

 

 

BellYFM1Airacuda.jpg

 

Bell YFM-1 Airacuda. Yep, that's two gunner aimed and fired 37mm guns. To quote wiki: it was an innovative design incorporating many features never before seen in a military aircraft, as well as several never seen again. I wonder why. It'd probably be effective against bombers if it weren't for the minor problem of not being able to catch them. It relied on an independent auxiliary power unit to power both engine fuel pumps as well as all aircraft electrical systems (this is one of those features!) It functionally had three separate engines without any one the plane was a write-off.

 

xp-67.jpg

 

XP-67 Moonbat. In addition to looking frankly super cool, it was supposed to be armed with 37mm cannon as a bomber destroyer. Six 37mm cannon in fact. Unfortunately actually making the thing work right was a bit much for the design staff and it had a severe tendency to overheat to the point of fire. By the time it worked, it didn't perform.

 

Curtiss_XP-71_wooden_model.jpg

 

XP-71. The very definition of big American bomber killers. 82.3 foot span, 39,950 pound weight intended (two B-25s!) with two R-4360-13s with turbos and a pair of eight blade, 13.5 foot diameter contra-rotating props. Intended to climb to 25,000 feet in 12.5 minutes, make 428 mph up there and be able to get to 40,000 feet with a 3,000 mile range. The thing was supposed to be armed with two 37mm cannon and a 75mm cannon. There were only two problems. First, it wasn't really working, it was complex as could be and things were progressing slowly. Second, there weren't any bombers to hunt. Which is a shame, because I desperately wish the B-36 of fighters had been a thing.

 

Northrop_XP-56_Black_Bullet_061024-F-123

 

Northrop XP-56. Cool looking plane, all-magnesium, all-welded. Unfortunately it didn't actually work and more importantly couldn't be made to work.

 

606px-The_latest_type_of_a_Grumman_Navy_

 

XF5F. Normally the nose goes in front of the wing, but Grumman does what it wants. The test performance was allegedly excellent, with it pulling away from an XF4U so fast the pilot thought the Corsair had engine trouble. Unfortunately it was a twin engine design and the Wildcat was deemed more practical, and the XF5F was going to need more design time and changes that would add weight.

 

Vought_XF5U.jpg

 

Oh come on Vought. Really? This is the XF5U. Basically the idea was that there are good reasons why a wing with super long chord suck, mainly the induced drag at the very long wingtips, but if you cancel them out with the prop wash it'd totally allow for better maneuverability, roll rate and strength. It was promising but development took too long, with vibration problems in particular. They did need to break it up with a wrecking ball, so the strength was a thing that happened.

 

No points if you guessed that I have a handsome book on US WWII "fighter" (and light strike plane) development.

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Yeah, I guess the super duper long range escort idea fits, although considering the Twin Mustang it seems that's a niche that they really wanted filled.

 

Now for a few British things:

 

593px-Lysander_5_Aug_2012_a.jpg

 

Westland Lysander. The joke went that to novices there were two types of planes: planes and Lysanders. Rare for things in this thread, it was actually a very successful liason aircraft with great visibility, low speed performance and short field performance.

 

Westland_Welkin.jpg

 

Westland Welkin. Designed to intercept high altitude and high speed reconnaissance flights, they took a Whirlwind, which was a high performance heavy fighter that had been plagued with development troubles and gave it a huge wing. Very good altitude performance, but not enough threat to be worthwhile.

 

Miles_M.39b.jpg

 

Miles M.39B Libellula. Designed to be a fast bomber. Apparently kind of worked, strangely enough. Seems that the progress of other designs passed it by, not really sure.

 

Miles_Libellula_M_35_UO235.jpg

 

Miles M.35 Libellula. I think they used all their inventiveness on the planform and had to reuse the name or something. Intended as a naval fighter which could fit onto elevators without wing folding and would have excellent visibility onto the carrier while landing. Was built without official authority which doomed the project, which was rejected.

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Here, have some WWI fun things:

 

Supermarine_P.B.31E_Nighthawk.jpg

 

Supermarine Nighthawk. Designed to carry a 37mm gun and a searchlight as a bomber interceptor. Instead of 75 mph it made 60, and took an hour to climb to 10,000 feet, which was still inadequate to intercept Zeppelins.

 

1024px-SPAD_A2.jpg

 

SPAD A.2. If you can't fire through the propeller arc, put the gun in front of the propeller! And a gunner! Preferably a guy you don't like because he's got an engine, a propeller and a pilot who can't really see to land behind him.

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xp54-6.jpg

 

The Vaultee XP-54.  This was a truly bizarre design.

 

The entire design was quite unorthodox.  Even things as mundane as how the pilot got into the cockpit were re-designed ab nihilo.  To enter and exit, the pilot pressed a button and an electric lift lowered the seat through the floor of the fuselage.  The pilot then hopped in and then was lifted up.

 

The nose section could pivot the guns up and down.  I've heard various explanations for this strange contrivance; some say it was to aid with deflection shooting, others say it was to aid with strafing.

 

Like several other prototype US fighters, the XP-54 was kneecapped by engines that didn't perform.

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No, Howard Hughes designed the H-4 Hercules, called by the press the "Spruce Goose" because it used wood construction. He crashed the XF-11 photoreconnaissance plane, which was like a hyper-Lighting.

 

H-4_HERCULES_spruce_goose%20(3).jpg

The H-4, a huge airplane (still one of the biggest) from back when "composite materials" meant "wood spliced together".

2838x1928xHughes-XF-11-44-70155-7-July-1

 

The XF-11, one of the wildest piston aircraft ever to fly, from the dawn of the jet age. Compared to its competitor, the XF-12 Rainbow, the XF-11 was smaller and less capable (the XF-12 could develop photos in flight, IIRC, a capability the XF-11 lacked), but it was damned fast.

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XP-54 was unofficially nicknamed "Swoose Goose."

 

The XP-55 "Weeaboo shinden"

 

xp-55_air_zoo_front.jpg

 

This design was supposed to feature a spiffy new high-output engine, but this never materialized, so it was actually flown with a single P-38 engine.  This left it somewhat underpowered and performance was indifferent.  Stall characteristics were also worrisome; a side effect of the swept wings that were necessitated to maintain CG/GL relationship due to the rear-mounted engine.

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Some Ruskie designs that were never made beyond paper. 

 

The Moskalyov SAM-4 Sigma was designed in 1934 and powered by twin Hispano-Suiza 12Ybr copies(one for each counter-rotating props). Max speed was to be an estimated 900 km/h and have retractable tricycle landing gear. 

equB9lo.jpg

 

Konstantin V. Pelenberg's STOL fighter. This thing was designed in 1943 to be capable of being able to operate on badly damaged airfields in the Great Patriotic War. It was powered by one V-12 engine of unknown type which would rotate the contra-rotating propellers. These propellers could be swivelled downwards 90 degrees during takeoff and landing by a hydraulic actuator. To even out the aircraft in takeoff and landing the wings were of variable geometry. Both the wings and propellers would return to normal in level flight. 

gTF8cUq.jpg

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Do-335.  For some reason my Dad was a little obsessed with this thing. 

 

 

 

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

  • 1 × 30 mm (1.18 in) MK 103 cannon (as forward engine-mounted Motorkanone)
  • 2 × 20 mm MG 151/20 cowl-mount, synchronized autocannons
  • Up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) bombload1920px-Dornier_Pfeil2.jpg
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  • 6 months later...

Ahh, a true successor to the BV 141.

 

Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1980-117-01%2C_Auf

 

This is what you get when you tell Germans to make a single engine aircraft with optimal visual characteristics. Of course you need a fully glazed gondola to look out of and for the rear gunner and therefore an asymmetrical design. The best part is that B+V wasn't even invited. It seemed to have been a functional design once fitted with a more powerful engine used by the FW 190.

 

Problem was, the winner was already picked by then and was a perfectly normal looking plane, the Fw 189, which neatly sidestepped the problem that it used two engines by using two engines that nobody really wanted anyway, rather than the same engine as a frontline fighter. It also had the advantage of actually flying well, unlike Arado's entry, which was preferred by the brass until they actually tried flying the thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ahh, a true successor to the BV 141.

 

Bundesarchiv_Bild_146-1980-117-01%2C_Auf

 

This is what you get when you tell Germans to make a single engine aircraft with optimal visual characteristics. Of course you need a fully glazed gondola to look out of and for the rear gunner and therefore an asymmetrical design. The best part is that B+V wasn't even invited. It seemed to have been a functional design once fitted with a more powerful engine used by the FW 190.

 

Problem was, the winner was already picked by then and was a perfectly normal looking plane, the Fw 189, which neatly sidestepped the problem that it used two engines by using two engines that nobody really wanted anyway, rather than the same engine as a frontline fighter. It also had the advantage of actually flying well, unlike Arado's entry, which was preferred by the brass until they actually tried flying the thing.

B&V aircraft designs are what happens when you have a company specialized in ship design to do aircraft design.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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