Dieselpunks.org | June 30, 2012
This Saturday, your Air Mail is brought here by an advanced experimental fighter, Buck Rogers at the controls*:
The Grumman G-34 proposal of 1938 for a single-seat twin-engined shipboard fighter anticipated the realization of an operational production example of such a type by quite a few years. In fact, the proposal was then considered to be so advanced that it bordered on the revolutionary; yet only four years later, on 18 April 1942,16 North American B-25 twin-engined bombers were flown off the USS Hornet to attack Tokyo.
Not only was the G-34 an advanced concept, in its original form it was a most unusual-looking aircraft, with the leading edge of its low-set monoplane wing forward of the fuselage nose. The tail unit had twin endplate fins and rudders, and the landing gear was of the retractable tailwheel type, with the main units retracting aft into the wing-mounted engine nacelles. Powerplant comprised two Wright R-1820 Cyclones, each with a three-bladed propeller, these being geared to counter-rotate to offset the effects of propeller torque.
Although failing to win a production order, the XF5F-1 soldiered on until withdrawn from use in December 1944, having done some useful work as a development prototype for the more advanced Grumman F7F.
A land-based version of Grumman’s design interested the US Army Air Force, which ordered a single XP-50 prototype.
Although generally similar to the naval version, it differed by having a lengthened nose to accommodate the nosewheel of the tricycle landing gear and had as powerplant two Wright R-1820-67/-69 turbocharged engines.
First flown on 14 May 1941, the XP-50 was plagued with engine overheating problems and was eventually written off after suffering serious damage when a turbocharger exploded. No further examples of the XP-50 were built.