Category Archives: U.S. Army Air Force

U.S.A.

Lockheed YP-49 (Anigrand, Resin)

TYPE: Fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Continental XI-1430-1 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,600 hp each

PERFORMANCE:  406 mph at 15,000 ft

COMMENT: The Lockheed XP-49 was a further development of the P-38 “Lightning” for a fighter in response to U. S. Army Air Corps proposal 39-775. Intended to use the new 24-cylinder Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine, this proposal, which was for an aircraft substantially similar to the P-38, was assigned the designation XP-49, while the competing Grumman Model G-46 was awarded second place and designated XP-50 “Skyrocket”. Ordered in October 1939 and approved on January 8, 1940, the XP-49 would feature a pressurized cockpit and armament of two 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon and four .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns. Two months into the contract, a decision was made to substitute the Continental XI-1430-1 (or IV-1430) for the X-1800. The XP-49 first flew on 11 November 1942. The prototype force-landed on 1 January 1943, when the port landing gear failed to lock down due to combined hydraulic and electrical system failures. The XP-49 next flew 16 February 1943, after repairs were made. Preliminary flight data showed performance was not sufficiently better than the production P-38, especially given the questionable future of the XI-1430 engine, to warrant disruption of the production line to introduce the new model aircraft. Consideration of quantity production was therefore abandoned (Ref.: 24).

De Havilland “Mosquito” F-8, 25th BG(R) -802 RG(P) (Matchbox)

TYPE: Photo-reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and radio-operator/navigator

POWER PLANT: Two Packard “Merlin” 31 or 33 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 1,460 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 408 mph at 28,000 ft

COMMENT: Until the end of WW II the de Havilland Company Canada rolled out 1,133 “Mosquito” aircraft of different subtypes.  The “Mosquito” B Mk XX was the Canadian version of the “Mosquito” B. Mk. IV bomber aircraft of which 145 were built. From these 40 were converted into F-8 photo-reconnaissance aircraft for the USAAF and used with the 8th USAAF in the European Theatre of Action. It had the same Packard “Merlin” engines and was equipped with three overload fuel tanks, totaling 3,500 L in the bomb bay. Additionally, for range extension it could also carry two 230 L or 450 L drop tanks.
The de Havilland “Mosquito” of 25th BG(R) -802 RG(P) were painted in normal RAF P.R. Blue finish. In August 1944 the vertical tail was colored in red and in September 1944 all tail surfaces were painted red. This marking was necessitated by frequency of misidentification of “Mosquito” as enemy type. Similar marking were used on BoeingB-17G of 652 BS.
The 25th Bombardment Group (Reconnaissance) was constituted in the days after D-Day and activated in England in August 1944 to carry out photographic and mapping missions over mainland Europe as the Allied armies pushed east. The Group were designated a Bombardment Group but they did not drop bombs. Instead they flew bombers to drop ‘chaff’ screenings for other Bomb Groups. ‘Chaff’, strips of metallic paper, would interfere with the enemy’s ability to detect aircraft using radar (Ref.: 24).

Douglas A-26C „Invader“ (Airfix)

TYPE: Light bomber, ground-attack aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-27 “Double Wasp” radial engines, rated at 2,000 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 355 mph

COMMENT: The Douglas A-26 “Invader” was Douglas Aircraft’s successor to the A-20 “Havoc”, in British service known as Douglas “Boston”, and was one of the most successful and widely operated types flown by Allied air forces in World War II. It was a twin-engine light bomber and ground attack aircraft, was fast and capable of carrying twice its specified bomb load.
A re-designation of the type from A-26 to B-26 led to confusion with the Martin B-26 “Marauder”, which first flew in November 1940, about 16 months before the Douglas design’s maiden flight. Although both types were powered by the widely used Pratt & Whitney R-2800 “Double Wasp” eighteen-cylinder, double-row radial engine, they were completely different and separate designs. Roughly 5,300 Martin “Marauders”, originated in 1939, were produced twice as many in comparison to the Douglas design.
The Douglas XA-26 prototype first flew on July 1942. Flight tests revealed excellent performance and handling, but problems with engine cooling led to cowling changes and elimination of the propeller spinners on production aircraft. Repeated collapses during testing led to strengthening of the nose landing gear. The Douglas A-26 was originally built in two different configurations. The A-26B had a gun nose housed six to eight .50 caliber machine guns, officially termed the “all-purpose nose”, later commonly known as the “six-gun nose” or “eight-gun nose”. The A-26C’s “glass” nose, officially termed the “Bombardier nose”, contained a Norden bombsight for medium altitude precision bombing. The A-26C nose section included two fixed M-2 guns, later replaced by underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wings.
After about 1,570 production aircraft, three guns were installed in each wing, coinciding with the introduction of the “eight-gun nose” for A-26Bs, giving some configurations as many as 14 .50 in machine guns in a fixed forward mount. The A-26C nose section could be exchanged for an A-26B nose section, or vice versa, in a few man-hours, thus physically changing the designation and operational role. The “flat-topped” canopy was changed in late 1944 after about 820 production aircraft, to a clamshell style with greatly improved visibility. Alongside the pilot in an A-26B, a crew member typically served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In an A-26C, that crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and relocated to the nose section for the bombing phase of an operation In most missions, a third crew member in the rear gunner’s compartment operated the remotely controlled dorsal and ventral gun turrets, with access to and from the cockpit possible via the bomb bay only when that was empty (Ref.: 24).

Republic XF-15 “Reporter” (Airfix, Parts from Airmodel, Vacu-formed)

TYPE: Photo-reconnaissance aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of two

POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-65 “Double Wasp” radial engines, rated at 2,000 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 376 mph at 17,000 ft

COMMENT: In autumn 1944, two Northrop P-61B “Black Widow” night fighters were extensively modified in an attempt to improve the performance and to extend the long-range in order to use these aircraft as long-range escort fighters.  Designated XP-61E the fuselage decking was cut flush with the wing to allow a large blown canopy to be fitted. The center and aft section of the fuselage nacelle housed additional fuel tanks and the nose radar was supplanted by four machine guns. The XP-61E’s were tested in the early month of 1945 but the second was lost in an accident on April 1945 and in view of the changing course of the war, further development of the “Black Widow” in this role as long-range escort fighter was abandoned. The first and remaining prototype was converted to the XF-15 “Reporter”, a long-range photo-reconnaissance aircraft, tested after the war. Due to the on-coming new turbojet powered aircraft a production order never was placed (Ref.: 9).

Bell Model 3 (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Fighter, fighter-bomber. Project

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Allison V-1710-35 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,150 hp

PERFORMANCE: 350 mph at 10,000 ft

COMMENT: In 1936 the Bell Aircraft Corporation’s design team began work on the Bell XP-39, a radical design of a single-seat fighter with the engine mounted behind the pilot, driving the airscrew by means of an extension shaft. This arrangement appeared to offer superior manoeuvrability, the engine weight being concentrated around the fighter’s center of gravity. But the first flight test proved that this unorthodox fighter had a low ceiling, slow rate of climb and relative lack of manoeuvrability. So alternatively the engine was mounted forward and the cockpit was positioned to the back.  This and some more minor changes led to the design of the Model 3. But calculations proved no advantage of this model compared to the P-39 “Aircrobra”, so the project was not further followed (Ref.: 13).

Republic P-47 D-15-RA ‘Thunderbolt’, 61 FS, 56 FG (Matchbox)

TYPE: Long-range escort-fighter and fighter-bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Pratt and Whitney R-2800-21 radial engine, rated at 2,300 hp

PERFORMANCE: 433 mph at 30.000 ft

COMMENT: The Republic P-47 D ‘Thunderbolt’ differed little from its predecessor P-47 C apart from changes in the turbo-supercharger exhaust system, water injection as standard for the R-2800-21 engine, and some minor changes. The P-47 D was the first version of the ‘Thunderbolt’ to serve with the USAAF in the pacific theatre. Towards the end of 1943, 8th Air Force ‘Thunderbolts’ began returning from escort missions “on the deck”, strafing targets of opportunity with their unused ammunition, and their success was partly responsible for the adaptation of the ‘Thunderbolt’ for what was  to become its most successful role – that of a fighter-bomber. More than 5,800 P-47D ‘Thunderbolts’ are built, all possessed the original framed sliding canopy introduced on the initial production B-model. Later versions were equipped with an all-round vision bubble-type cockpit canopy (Ref.: 24)

Northrop N-9M-2 (Czechmaster, Resin)

TYPE:  Scaled-down experimental aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: Two Menasco C6S-1 ‘Buccaneer’ air-cooled engines, rated at 275 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 258 mph

COMMENT: The Northrop N-9M was considered an approximately one-third scale, 60-ft span all-wing aircraft used for the development of the full size, 172-ft wide Northrop XB-35 and YB-35 flying wing long-range, heavy bomber. On October 1941, the preliminary order for development of the B-35 Flying Wing bomber was confirmed, including engineering, testing, and most importantly a 60 ft (18 m) wingspan, one-third scale aircraft, designated N-9M. It was to be used in gathering data on flight performance and for familiarizing pilots with the program’s radical, all-wing design. The first N-9M was ordered in the original contract, but this was later expanded to three test aircraft in early 1943. A fourth was ordered a few months later after a crash of the first N-9M destroyed that airframe; this fourth N-9M incorporated various flight test-derived improvements and upgrades, including different, more powerful engines. The four aircraft were designated N-9M-1, -2, -A, and -B, respectively. The N-9M framework was partially constructed of wood to reduce its overall weight. The wings’ outer surfaces were also skinned with strong, specially laminated plywood. The central section (roughly equivalent to the fuselage) was made of welded tubular steel. The first flight of the N-9M occurred on 27 December 1942. During the next five months, 45 flights were made. Nearly all were terminated by mechanical failures of one sort or another, the Menasco engines being the primary source of those problems. After roughly 22.5 hours of accumulated flight time, the first N-9M crashed on 19 May 1943. Northrop’s Flying Wing bomber program was canceled in mid 1944, and all remaining N-9M flight test aircraft, except for the final N-9MB, were scrapped (Ref. 24).

Supermarine ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX, 7th Photographic Group, 8th USAAF (Matchbox)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter, fighter bomber, photo-reconnaissance

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin 66’ liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,720 hp

PERFORMANCE: 404 mph at 21,000 ft

COMMENT: By the end of 1941, the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. V was experiencing increasing difficulty in combating the newer versions of the Messerschmitt Me 109 and found itself completely outclassed by the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. So the need for a higher performance was a matter of the most vital urgency. In order to achieve the desired performance improvement with the least possible delay, it was decided to install the Rolls-Royce ‘Merlin 60’ Series engine in the basic ‘Spitfire’ Mk.VC, this marriage of convenience being designated ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX. Despite the fact that the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX was considered solely as an interim type, it was to be produced in larger quantities than any other Spitfire variant, in total 5.665 aircraft being manufactured. Logical evolutions of the ‘Spitfire’ Mk. IX were the photo-reconnaissance P.R. Mks. IX, X, and XI. A universal camera installation provided accommodation for two F.8 or F.52 vertical cameras, or two F.24 vertical and one F.24 oblique camera. A number of Spitfire P.R.Mk. IX was delivered to the 8th USAAF and the aircraft shown here belonged to the 7th Photographic Group, stationed at Chalgrove, U.K. (Ref.: 12)

Culver PQ-14B ‘Cadet’ (Frank-Airmodel, Resin)

TYPE: Radio-controlled target drone

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only or radio controlled

POWER PLANT: Franklin O-300-11 air-cooled engine, rated at 150 hp

PERFORMANCE: 185 mph

COMMENT: In 1940, the U.S. Army Air Corps drew up a requirement for a radio-controlled target drone for training anti-aircraft artillery gunners. The first aircraft in a series of target drones was a modification of the Culver LFA ‘Cadet’ commercial sports plane which eventually led to the PQ-14 series used throughout WW II and beyond. In 1942 Culver designed a larger and more powerful derivative of their PQ-8 ‘Cadet’ target as the model NR-D. A single PQ-8 was converted to the new configuration and tested by the USAAF as the XPQ-14. This was followed by YPQ-14A service test aircraft and more than 1400 PQ-14A production models. Of the latter, about 1200 were transferred to the U.S. Navy, which designated them as TD2C-1 ‘Turkey’. The PQ-14A was powered by a Franklin O-300-11 piston engine and had a retractable tricycle landing gear. Like the PQ-8, it was flown manned for ferry or check-out flights and by radio-control from the ground as a target drone. The YPQ14B was a slightly heavier variant, which was followed by a production run of more than 1100 PQ-14B targets for the USAAF. A single PQ-14B was converted to use an O-300-9 engine and designated XPQ-14C (Ref.: 24).

Bell XP-77 (Frank-Airmodel, Vacu formed)

TYPE: Lightweight fighter

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Ranger XV-770-7 air cooled engine, rated at 520 hp, driving a two-bladed propeller

PERFORMANCE: 330 mph at 4,000 ft

COMMENT:  The rapid expansion of aircraft production in the USA before WWII inevitably led to shortage in the supply of light alloy. Interest therefore began to be focused upon the substitution of non-critical materials such as wood. In October 1941discussion between USAAF personnel and engineers of the Bell Aircraft Corp began with the view of developing a lightweight “non-strategic” fighter, designated XP-77. The aircraft was a very small low wing monoplane using resin-bonded laminated wood construction with a stressed skin. The engine was a 520 hp Ranger V-770 air-cooled in-line unit that was intended to be developed in a supercharged version, the V-770-9. Six prototypes of the XP-77 were ordered in September 1942, plus two static test airframes, a mock-up and a full-scale model for wind-tunnel testing. But the lack of the supercharged engine, growth in the bare weight of the prototypes, reduced performance estimates, overrunning costs and increasing supplies of light alloys let to interest in the XP-77 programme waning during 1943. The contract was reduced to only two flying prototypes and the first of these was not ready for flight test until April 1944. Both prototypes were tested briefly by the USAAF but in December 1944 the entire development contract was terminated, the consensus of opinion being that the XP-77 was operationally unsuitable and that its performance showed no improvement over heavier fighters of conventional construction (Ref.: 8).