Curtiss A-18 Curtiss A-18 No. 52 assigned to Wright Field (Y1A-18, probably during testing). (U.S. Air Force photo) The Curtiss A-18 Model 76A Shrike II was a 1930s United States twin-engine ground-attack aircraft. It was the production test version of that company's XA-14. In the years leading up to World War II, the United States Army Air Corps were interested in attack aircraft capable of carrying larger bomb loads with greater firepower. The attack aircraft design standard essentially became a light bomber with firepower only slightly less than the medium bombers being developed as the standard .30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun generally was replaced by .50 in (12.7 mm) ones on new aircraft in development. The Curtiss YA-14 prototype that emerged in 1935 was one of the first single-mission attack aircraft. Although it looked purposeful with its slender fuselage, thin nose and sleek streamlining, the A-14 was hampered by a lack of power, despite its two 775 hp (578 kW) Wright Whirlwind radial engines. Nevertheless, the prototype was able to achieve a maximum speed of 254 mph (409 km/h), outstripping the frontline Boeing P-26 fighter by 20 mph (32 km/h).Re-engined with 735 hp (548 kW) Curtiss R-1670-5 engines, it was delivered to the Army under serial number 36-146. Operational historyA newly improved variant, the Y1A-18 had upgraded 850 hp (630 kW) Wright R-1820-47 radial engines with three-blade propellers replacing the original two-blade models. Thirteen aircraft were produced, serial numbers 37-52 through 37-64,and although successful in testing, further production was not ordered due to a lack of funds and the availability of more advanced aircraft (such as the A-20 Havoc) under design. After completion of service testing, the Y1A-18s were assigned to operational attack groups and redesignated A-18. The aircraft were initially sent to the 8th Attack Squadron, 3rd Attack Group at Barksdale Field, Louisiana. They won a USAAC award for bombing and gunnery in their first year of service.The A-18 was only used for a short time before being replaced by more advanced attack aircraft. The A-18 was retired from front line service in 1940 and was never used in combat. The last A-18 in flying condition was grounded in 1943

johnbr, Apr 8, 2013
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