American Interceptor: US Navy Convoy Fighter Projects

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Jared A. Zichek
ISBN
978-1-911658948
E-Book ISBN
1911658948
Other Publication Information
Hard Bound, 8.625” x 12”, 350 pages
MSRP
$59.99
Company: Mortons Books - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Cover

Mortons Media Group was established in the 19th century and has been producing book-length publications since the early 2000s. The company established a dedicated books division in 2019 and Mortons Books has already earned a reputation for publishing high-quality titles by authors who are true experts in their field. For the best reads on rail, aviation, nostalgia and history, look no further. This book is part of their imprint: Tempest Books addresses all aspects of aviation history are covered in authoritative detail. The aviators and aircraft of the Second World War are profiled by our titles alongside more modern fighters, bombers, reconnaissance aircraft and transports. 'Secret projects' and experimental designs are also an important part of the Tempest Books portfolio.

Jared A. Zichek is a freelance writer and illustrator specializing in aviation and automotive history. He lives in La Jolla, California. You can find him at on Twitter @retromechanix. RetroMechanix.com is devoted to innovative and unusual flying machines from earlier decades, with special emphasis on U.S. prototype and project aircraft from the 1930’s through the 1950’s. Featuring hundreds of previously unpublished high-resolution photographs, drawings and artist’s impressions, along with original primary documents scanned directly from the U.S. National Archives, Jared A. Zichek is the definitive resource for yesterday’s wings of tomorrow. Some of his books include: The Boeing XF8B-1 Fighter (Schiffer, 2006); Secret Aerospace Projects of the U.S. Navy (Schiffer, 2009); Goodyear GA-28A/B Convoy Fighter (RetroMechanix, 2015); Martin Model 262 Convoy Fighter (RetroMechanix, 2015); Northrop N-63 Convoy Fighter (RetroMechanix, 2015); Convair Class VF Convoy Fighter (RetroMechanix, 2017); Lockheed Model L-200 Convoy Fighter Part 1 (RetroMechanix, 2017); and Lockheed Model L-200 Convoy Fighter Part 2 (RetroMechanix, 2017).

This portrait-format hard cover book features a gorgeous cover painting of the Martin 262 Modification C design by Piotr Forkasiewicz. Frontal drag was lessened by having the pilot prone. The pusher propeller behind the swept wing platform was expected to improve overall flight stability and permit the reduction in size of the tail assembly. The rear cover features five color side profile illustrations that are included within the book. I counted 492 black and white photographs, and drawings 11 color period pictures, and 24 color side view illustrations.

Jared A. Zichek kicks it off with a 1929 proposal, Pittsburgh engineer J. Remmen’s “Helicopter Plane”. Several designs were submitted for patents, including Bell in 1941 for a VTOL ‘tailsitter’ design that was granted on August 14, 1945. Page 19 shows off this patent with the concept published in Modern Mechanix magazine in 1948. Interestingly, nearly all control was from the propellers since there clearly no tail surfaces in the illustration. Chapter Two covers the Convair design studies that eventually became the Convair XFY-1 “Pogo”. Goodyear’s proposals, the GA-28A and GA-28B, are addressed in Chapter Three. Page 63 depicts the GA-28B proposal with its triple vertical fins. The underwing housing visible housed the landing gear and a 20mm cannon on each side.

The Lockheed L-200 Design, which ended up becoming the Lockheed XFV-1 “Salmon” is addressed in Chapter Four. Photographs of the wooden cockpit mockup are shown on Page 131 with a volunteer showing off the 45-degree seat tilt position planned for taking off vertically. An electric winch was used to rotate the cockpit to explore the optimal seat rotation from horizontal flight to vertical flight. Chapter Five looks at Martin’s proposal which considered the twin propellers ahead of the cockpit, behind the cockpit but ahead of the wing, and behind the wing but ahead of the tail. Page 204 shows off the first two designs, Modification A and Modification B. Northrop’s design proposals are reviewed in Chapter Six and are rather interesting. Three of the four designs utilized a ventral vertical fin and rudder, ending in a horizontal stabilizer. This can be viewed on Page 251. The Northrop design carried four 20mm cannons in the wingtip pods. Northrop also designed their proposals so that only minimum modification to the convoy ship would be needed to carry the fighter in addition to no hoist being required.

Convair was selected the winner of the competition with Lockheed coming in second. Martin was a close third. Both Convair and Lockheed were given contracts for prototypes and are looked at in more detail in Chapter Seven. Page 279 depicts the cockpit of the Convair XFY-1 mockup with views of the instrument panel and the left and right hand consoles. The upper right photograph reveals the cockpit without the instrument panel showing off the rudder pedals. Chapter Eight reveals additional VTOL concepts explored by Convair and Lockheed, including transports, ground attack, and nuclear weapon delivery. The sections include:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: Convoy Fighter Origins
    • Early American VTOL Tailsitter Concepts
    • Remmen Helicopter Plane (1929)
    • Gamby Vertigo Plane (1934)
    • Leonard 1,000 Horsepower Helicopter-Type Aircraft (1939)
    • Barling Aircraft Patent (1940)
    • Bell Aircraft Patent (1941) [Page 019]
    • The Battle of the Atlantic and Its Influence on Postwar Naval Planning
    • Project Hummingbird
    • Advent of the Turboprop Engine
    • Bureau of Aeronautics DR-72 / DR-72A VTOL Tailsitter Studies
    • Preparing the Operational Specification
  • Chapter 2: Convair Model 5 Convoy Fighter
    • Class VF Convoy Fighter Proposal
    • Class VF Airplane Prototype for Convoy Fighter
    • Stripped Down Convoy Fighter
    • Correspondence & Cost Proposal
    • Contract Award
  • Chapter 3: Goodyear GA-28A and GA-28B
    • Features & Innovations
    • Hydraulic System
    • Performance Summary [Page 63]
    • Automatic Pilot
    • Control System Design
    • Ditching
    • Cost Proposal
    • Elimination of the GA-28A
  • Chapter 4: Lockheed L-200
    • Operational Features of the L-200
    • Aerodynamics Summary
    • Development Programme
    • Design Details
    • Basic Structure
    • L-200 Production Features
    • Weight and Balance Analysis [Page 131]
    • Conclusions
    • Cockpit Mock-Up
    • Free Flight Model Tests
    • Takeoff and Landings
    • Prototype Proposal
    • Cost Proposal
    • Light Weight Design Policy
    • Contract Award
  • Chapter 5: Martin Model 262 and 262P
    • Aerodynamics
    • Controls
    • Modified Arrangements
    • Wind Tunnel Programme
    • Alternate Launch and Recovery
    • Model 262P Convoy Fighter Prototype
    • Cost Proposal [Page 204]
  • Chapter 6: Northrop N-63 and N-63A
    • Wind Tunnel Tests and Design Refinements [Page 251]
  • Chapter 7: Winners and Losers
    • Convoy Fighter Performance Summary [Table]
    • Convair XFY-1 Pogo [Page 279]
    • XFY-1 Wind Tunnel Reports
    • XFY-1 Standard Aircraft Characteristics Charts
    • Subsequent History of the Convair XFY-1 Pogo
    • Lockheed XFO-1 / XFV-1
    • Mock-Up Board Report
  • Chapter 8: Related Projects & Studies
    • Convair Studies
    • Lockheed Studies
  • Sources and Bibliography
  • Image Credits
  • Index

This book focuses on the proposals in response to the November, 1950, US Navy’s Convoy Fighter competition. Proposals were requested to produce a ‘tailsitter’ [VTOL] turboprop single seat fighter that could operate from a standard merchant ship. Many proposals were submitted that ended up with Convair and Lockheed winning contracts to build prototypes: the Convair XFY-1 “Pogo” and the Lockheed XFV-1 “Salmon”. Jared A. Zichek notes that this book is a compilation of his previous monographs (see above) along with new material. It is not a book for the development of the “Pogo” and “Salmon”; indeed, the author urges readers to the Ginter Monographs for their development.

I have to admit I have several of Jared A. Zichek’s earlier monographs, some that can be found on the IPMS USA Review site. This book provides additional background, drawings, and photographs that make this a must have if you are into project aircraft proposals. I found the entire book fascinating, but I really enjoyed Chapter Eight on Related Projects and Studies where things get really weird. One in particular was a Convair proposed Observation variant of the XFY-1 Pogo with side-by-side seating and individual canopies on either side of the dorsal spine. Another variation of the Convair Observation variant was placing the pilot and observer in prone pods on the wingtips. Now that would have been exciting!

This book took me two weeks to read and I enjoyed every minute of it. Model wise, the kits available are limited to the Convair XFY-1 ‘Pogo’ and Lockheed XFV-1 ‘Salmon’. The Salmon is available in 1/72-scale from Airmodel (vacuform), Pegasus, and recently from Valom (2005). Unicraft released a related proposal in 1/72 of the Lockheed L-200-5 in 1992 if you can still locate it. The 1/48 Aurora kit was originally released in 1954 but is also hard to find. The Pogo is available in 1/72-scale from Airmodel (vacuform), and KP (KoPro / Mastercraft). If you like vacuformed kits, the Pogo was released in 1/32 from ID Models, and later re-released by Tigger Models in 2010. Aurora released a 1/48 Pogo in 1956. Lindberg released their 1/48 Pogo in 1958 and is by far the easier one to find with its latest release in 2007. The two seat, two canopy Observation proposal was released by Unicraft in 1/72 in 2019 and should be a real head-turner on the contest tables. Unicraft is also promising a few other proposals in this tome, including a 1/72 Goodyear GA.28A and the Martin Model 262C that is featured on the cover. Another variant of the Goodyear proposal, the GA-28B, along with the Martin Model 262, was issued by Fantastic Plastic, but again, are hard to find. If you are interested in US VTOL Concept Fighters, this is an essential volume for both the aviation historian and the scale modeler.

My thanks to Casemate, Mortons Books, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

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