Vultee XA-41 History

In September 1942, the U.S. Army commissioned the Vultee Aircraft Group to develop a viable single-engine, single-seat dive bomb platform. The dive bomber proved its worth in the early days of World War II (1939-1945) with the Luftwaffe, although its vulnerability became apparent when the Allied Air Forces began to rise to the challenge.

Vultee engineers return with a "Type 90" based on the 3,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major large engine. The Type 90 impressed the army authorities and two prototypes were ordered on 10 November 1942.

Originally intended as a dive bomber, the changing wartime situation in Europe soon revealed the inherent weaknesses of dive bombers, such as the German Junkers Ju 87 Stuka Line. This prompted the Army to reconsider and instead demand an attack-oriented low-level platform, which only led to inevitable delays in countless WWII U.S. aircraft programs, the types of which were constantly changing as development progressed Usually at the expense of the entire program.

A new development contract was signed, and work on the first XA-41 continued until the second half of 1943. However, the war in Europe by this time had already begun to see primitive fighter designs such as the North American P-51 Mustang and the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt increasingly playing the role of fighter-bomber and ground attack aircraft, leading many in the Army to believe that, There is no point in wasting time and money on a special aircraft like the XA-41.

This led to the cancellation of the contract, and the XA-41 essentially ended as a possible combat aircraft.

However, there were people in the Army who initially pushed the plane and worked hard to ensure it had a future. The Materials Division obtained a separate example of ongoing testing of the Wasp's main engine combined with new technology that may be demonstrated elsewhere. This eventually led to the prototype's first flight on February 11, 1944.

Subsequent testing resulted in a fairly robust aircraft, though unremarkable, with only minor design changes made during testing.

The U.S. Army then took over the aircraft in the summer of 1944, and in total it has flown more than 60 times since it first entered service. While handling, agility and ground stability have generally proven solid, the aircraft lacks the top speed sought by an attack aircraft - an aircraft that could well find itself forced to engage enemy fighter jets head-on. The U.S. Armys interest waned to the point that the XA-41 was no longer in their plans, and only the U.S.

Navys brief interest in the attack type extended the aircrafts lifespan. The Vultee XA-41 was officially discontinued in 1950 after engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney purchased the airframe for additional engine testing.

When completed, the XA-41 had a somewhat unusual shape compared to the aircraft of the time. As expected, the engine is located in the forward compartment, although the cockpit is located aft of the unit, forward amidships. The pilot's engine was purposely raised to provide the best visibility.

This engine drives a standard four-blade Hamilton prop, initially shown without a spinner - this was added in later testing. The cockpit is covered with a thick framed canopy, although cockpit visibility is generally good. The main wing assembly is located amidships, greatly blocking the view from the sides of the aircraft. The general design of the wing is straight, truncated at the tip and tapered along the trailing edge. The fuselage proved to be slender, and the tail contained a single, angled vertical fin and medium-sized horizontal fins, which were also truncated at the ends.

The wide-track undercarriage is retractable and is tail-pulling.

Proposed weapons for this design include 4 x .50 caliber M2 Browning heavy machine guns and 4 x 37mm automatic cannons, all mounted on the wings to avoid the need for breaker gears to rotate the propeller blades. Internal bomb loads were up to 2,000 pounds, with an estimated 1,100 pounds of additional stores (including high-explosive rockets) under the wings.

The official listed ammo load is 6,500 lbs.

The performance of the 3,000 hp Pratt & Whitney R-4360 28-cylinder radial piston engine proved powerful. However, when the Hunter broke the 400 mph mark, the top speed it could reach was only about 360 mph.

The service ceiling is listed at 29,300 feet, and the climb rate is close to 2,730 feet per minute.

Vultee XA-41 Specification

Basic

Year:
1944
Staff:
1

Production

[1 unit]:
Vultee Aircraft - USA

Roles

- Ground Attack

- Close Air Support (CAS)

- Naval/Navigation

- X-Plane / Development

Dimensions

Length:

48.65 ft (14.83 m)

Width:

52. 49 feet (16 m)

Height:

13.91 ft (4.24 m)

Weight

Curb Weight:

6,080 kg

MTOW:

10,970 kg

(difference: +10,781 pt)

Performance

1 x Pratt & Whitney R-4360 28 cylinder radial piston engine, 3,000 hp.

Performance

Maximum Speed:

364 mph (585 km/h; 316 knots)

Service Limit:

29,199 ft (8,900 m; 5.53 mi)

Rate of climb:

2,730 ft/min (832 m/min)

Armor

Suggestions:

4 x .50 caliber M2 Browning wing machine guns.

4 x 37mm wing cannons

Optional:

Up to 6,500 lbs total bearing, internal and external. It holds about 2,000 pounds inside and 1,600 pounds under the wings. Weapon support includes missiles, torpedoes and conventionally thrown bombs.

Changes

Model 90 - Vultee Enterprise Model

XA-41 - Basic Series Name

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