The plane that lost out to the F4U

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Thorlifter, Feb 10, 2010.

  1. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I took this info straight from Wiki, but only because the information here was almost exactly like that found on other sites. I had never heard of this aircraft before and, IMHO, is an UGLY plane. Sure glad they didn't make it.

    The Bell XFL Airabonita was a United States experimental shipboard interceptor aircraft developed for the United States Navy by Bell Aircraft. It was similar to and a parallel development of the land-based P-39 Airacobra, differing mainly in the use of a tailwheel undercarriage in place of the P-39's tricycle gear. Only one prototype was manufactured.

    Design and development

    The XFL-1 (Bell Model 5) was powered by a single Allison XV-1710-6 piston engine installed amidships behind the pilot and driving a three bladed Curtiss propeller in the nose through a 10.38 ft (3.16 m) extension shaft. The aircraft had provisions for a single 37 mm (1.46 in) Oldsmobile T9 cannon which could be replaced by a .50 in (12.7 mm)Browning M2/AN machine gun through the propeller shaft and two .30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns in the fuselage nose. It first flew on 13 May 1940.

    Although based on the P-39 Airacobra the XFL-1 utilised a conventional tail-wheel undercarriage and the coolant radiators were housed externally in fairings under the wings instead of within the wing centre-section. The Allison engine was the first of its type to be tried out by the Navy and lacked the turbo charger fitted to the XP-39.

    Delivery of the prototype to the Navy was delayed due to difficulties with the Allison engine until February 1941 and it was not accepted as Navy property until March[2] During Navy tests the aircraft was plagued with engine and landing gear problems and was returned to Bell for modifications in December 1941, but before the modifications were completed the Navy decided that the XFL-1 was not suitable for further development.

    As a possible further reason for the rejection it is often stated that the Navy's position during that era was that all its aircraft should use air-cooled engines (while the Allison was liquid-cooled). This appears unfounded speculation. The Navy in fact "would consider a liquid-cooled engine installtion provided a material increase in performance over air-cooled engine can be shown"

    In addition the Allison engine had only a single-speed supercharger, so its altitude performance was much inferior to other Navy fighters of the period like the F4F Wildcat (the Army's P-39 and P-40, which used the same engine, had the same difficulty; the P-38 used the same engines but incorporated exhaust-driven superchargers to achieve good altitude performance).

    Lastly, the Airabonita had to compete against the considerably faster F4U Corsair, the first US Navy fighter to exceed 400 mph (644 km/h) in level flight.

    The XFL-1 was later used for non-flying armament tests, and later destroyed. For many years its remains were visible at the dump at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland.
     

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  2. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Even the names sucks. Nice find!
     
  3. Bucksnort101

    Bucksnort101 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like a toy!!!! I was starting to think it was April Fools Day for a minute there. The Airabonita, surely you must be joking?
     
  4. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    I know Buck. I can just picture the pilot in there peddling as fast as he can like a Flintstone car just to keep that thing in the air.
     
  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    That's wiki for you
    similar, well, there's certainly a visual link but the Airabonita was as dissimilar to the Airacobra as the Airacobra was to the Kingcobra. I shudder to think what USN/USMC commanders would have made of the Airabonita's range in the Pacific... :shock:
     
  6. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Ugly is the right word for it. Nice find!
     
  7. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    Ever notice that for the most part, ugly aircraft never seem to make it.

    The great combat planes of all time are good looking machines. And usually have great names.

    What's with Bell Aircraft names?

    Airacobra?

    Airacomet?

    And worst of all.....Airabonita?

    TO
     
  8. Bucksnort101

    Bucksnort101 Well-Known Member

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    #8 Bucksnort101, Feb 10, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2010
    Although I know everything posted on WikiPedia is the God's honest truth I still had to use Google to confirm that it was not just a fabrication of someones creative yet deceptive mind. Thank God they picked the F4U. Although the plane may have been effective, as the Japanese would probably have laughed thier a$$es off and crashed into the ocean had they known the name given to this bird.
     
  9. Bucksnort101

    Bucksnort101 Well-Known Member

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    I thought of this as well when you posted this. Although I kinda liked the King Cobra name given the P-63.
     
  10. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  11. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Airabonita - it sounds like a Madonna single for some reason :)
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    :evil4:
     
  13. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    A plane uglier than Terry's Wildcat.

    DBII
     
  14. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Terry will hunt you down like a dog for that remark
    How insensitive of you, you know how the man cherishes his Wildcats...
     
  15. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    God lord, that's one ugly machine. Thankfully they chose the Corsair over that homely bird.
     
  16. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    :oops: sorry

    DBII
     
  17. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I think it should have been called Airafeo, not bonita!
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Homely's the word - it wouldn't have got far :)
     
  19. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    #19 Messy1, Feb 10, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2010
    Literally!

    Even with this thing being as ugly as it was, it is still sad it was basically hauled off the the dump and destroyed.
     
  20. ToughOmbre

    ToughOmbre Active Member

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    At least they got one name right! :lol:

    TO
     
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