Category Archives: Postwar


North American AJ-1 “Savage”, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, (Anigrand Models, Resin)

TYPE: Carrier-borne medium bomber

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWERPLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W Double Wasp radial engines, rated at 2,400 hp each plus one Allison J33-A-10 turbojet engine, rated at 2,040 kp thrust


COMMENT: The North American AJ-1 “Savage” was designed shortly after WW II to carry atomic bombs and this meant that the bomber was the heaviest aircraft thus far designed to operate from an aircraft carrier.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy began a design competition on August 1945 for a carrier-based bomber which could carry a 4,536 kg bomb that was won by North American Aviation. Later that year, the Navy decided that it needed to be able to deliver atomic bombs and that the AJ Savage design would be adapted to accommodate the latest Mark 4 nuclear bomb the next step in development from the more sophisticated imploding Plutonium sphere design Mark 3 “Fat Man” used on Nagasaki. A contract for three XAJ-1 prototypes and a static test airframe was awarded on June 1946. The first prototype made its maiden flight two years later on July 1948. That same year the US Navy began an interim capability program employing the Lockheed P-2 “Neptune” carrying a crash program reproduction of the smaller simpler all uranium ‘gun’ design Mark 2 “Little Boy” nuclear bomb as its first carrier launched nuclear bomber aircraft until the “Savage” was in service. The “Neptune” launched using Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) rockets but could not land on existing carriers; if launched they had to either ditch at sea after its mission or land at a friendly airbase.
The AJ-1 was a three-seat, high-wing monoplane with tricycle landing gear. To facilitate carrier operations, the outer wing panels and the tailfin could be manually folded. The two piston engines were mounted in nacelles under each wing with a large turbocharger fitted inside each engine nacelle, and an Allison J33-A-10 turbojet that was fitted in the rear fuselage. Only intended to be used for takeoff and maximum speed near the target, the jet was fed by an air inlet on top of the fuselage that was normally kept closed to reduce drag. To simplify the fuel system, both types of engines used the same grade of avgas. Self-sealing fuel tanks were housed in the fuselage and each wing. The aircraft usually carried 300-US-gallon tip tanks and it could house three fuel tanks in the bomb bay with a total capacity of 1,640 US gallons. Other than its 5,400 kg bombload, the bomber was unarmed.
Two of the three prototypes crashed during testing, but their loss did not materially affect the development of the aircraft as the first batch of “Savages” had been ordered on October 1947. The most significant difference between the XAJ-1 and the production aircraft was the revision of the cockpit to accommodate a third crewman in a separate compartment. The first flight by a production aircraft occurred in May 1949 and Fleet Composite Squadron FIVE (VC-5) became the first squadron to receive a “Savage” in September. The squadron participated in testing and evaluating the aircraft together with the Naval Air Test Center (NATC) in order to expedite the “Savage’s” introduction into the fleet. The first carrier takeoff and landing made by the bomber took place from the USS “Coral Sea” on April and August 1950, respectively.
When first deployed, the AJ-1 was too large and heavy to be used by any American aircraft carrier except for the “Midway” class. The modernized “Essex” class carriers with reinforced decks and the very large “Forrestal” class could also handle the “Savage”. The aircraft was not popular aboard ship as it was too big and cumbersome that it complicated any other flight operations the ship was required to conduct. One problem was that the wings had to be folded one at a time by a crewman on top of the fuselage with a portable hydraulic pump, a time-consuming process, so that the bomber could be moved out of the way to allow other aircraft to land or take off. One pilot reported that the AJ-1 was “a dream to fly and handled like a fighter”, when everything was working properly. The aircraft, however, was not very reliable, possibly because it was rushed into production before all the problems could be ironed out. The bomber was replaced by the Douglas A3D “Skywarrior” beginning in 1957. In total140 aircraft were built plus three prototypes (Ref.: 24).

Grumman AF-2S Guardian (Airmodel, Vacu, Parts scratch built)

TYPE: Anti-submarine strike aircraft


POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-48W Double Wasp, rated at 2,400 h.p.

PERFORMANCE: 350 m.p.h. at 15,000ft

COMMENT: In contrast to the radar equipped AF-2W, the Grumman AF-2S was armed with one torpedo or two bombs or two depth-charges in weapons bay. The AF-2S carried a smaller wing mounted APS-30 radar and a search light. Both, the AF-2W and the AF-2S operated in a “hunter” and “killer” role. A total of 193 AF-2S were produced


Grumman AF-2W Guardian (Airmodel, Vacu, Parts scratch built)

TYPE: Anti-submarine search aircraft


POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R.2800-48W Double Wasp, rated at 2,400 h.p.

PERFORMANCE:  317 m.p.h. at 16,000 ft

COMMENT: Originally designed as a replacement of the highly successful Grumman TBF Avenger anti-submarine search aircraft. In place of defensive armament the new torpedo-bomber had a Westinghouse 19XB turbojet in the tail to give it a high escape speed. Later the the design was revised and a large ventral radar set was built in. In that configuration the aircraft was used as a hunter in cooperation with the Grumman AF-2S as a killer. A total of 153 AF-2W were built.

Chance Vought Jet Skimmer (Unicraft)

TYPE: Carrier-borne STOL-fighter


POWER PLANT: Two Westinghouse J 34-WE-30 turbojet, rated at 760 kp each

PERFORMANCE: Not available

COMMENT: Projected  jet version of the piston engine powered XF5U-1. No further details available

Chance Vought F7U-1 Cutlass (Anigrand, Resin)

TYPE: Carrier-based fighter


POWER PLANT: Two Westinghouse J 34-WE-32 turbojets, rated at 1,300 kp each

PERFORMANCE:  602 m.p.h.

COMMENT: This design based on research data from the German Arado company with tailless projects. 14 F7U-1 were built, followed by 290 F7U-3

Douglas XA2D-1 Skyshark (Anigrand, Resin)

TYPE: Carrier-borne attack aircraft


POWER PLANT: Allison XT40-A2 coupled turboprop engine, rated at 5,100 h.p., driving two contra-rotating three-bladed propellers,

PERFORMANCE: 492 mph at 40.000 ft

COMMENT: The Douglas A2D Skyshark was an American carrier-borne turbopropeller-powered attack aircraft built by the Douglas Aircraft Company for the US Navy. The program was substantially delayed by engine reliability problems, and was canceled because more promising turbojet attack aircraft had entered development and the smaller escort carriers the A2D was intended to utilize were being phased out.
On June 1945, the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) asked Douglas Aircraft for a turbine-powered, propeller-driven aircraft. Three proposals were put forth in the next year and a half: the D-557A, to use two General Electric TG-100s (T31s) in wing nacelles; the D-557B, the same engine, with counter-rotating propellers; and the D-557C, to use the Westinghouse 25D. These were canceled due to engine development difficulties, but BuAer continued to seek an answer to the high fuel-consumption of the turbojet powered aircraft.
On June 1947 Douglas received the Navy’s letter of intent for a carrier-based turboprop-powered aircraft. The need to operate from Casablanca-class escort carriers dictated the use of a turboprop instead of turbojet power.
While it resembled the in service Douglas AD Skyraider, the A2D was different in a number of unseen ways. The 5,100 hp rated Allison XT-40-A-2 had more than double the horsepower of the Skyraider’s Wright R-3350 Cyclone air-cooled piston engine. The XT40 installation on the Skyshark used contra-rotating propellers to harness all the available power. Wing root thickness decreased, from 17% to 12%, while both the height of the tail and its area grew.
Engine-development problems delayed the first flight until May 1950 and on December 1950, the first prototype crashed while landing approach killing the pilot. Investigation found the starboard power section of the coupled Allison XT-40-A-2 turboprop engine had failed and did not declutch, allowing the Skyshark to fly on the power of the opposite section, nor did the propellers feather. As the wings’ lift disappeared, a fatal sink rate was induced. Additional instrumentation and an automatic decoupler was added to the second prototype, but by the time it was ready to fly on April 1952, sixteen months had passed, and with all-jet designs being developed, the A2D program was essentially dead. Total flight time on the lost airframe was barely 20 hours.
Allison failed to deliver a “production” engine until 1953, and by the summer of 1954, the new Douglas A4D Skyhawk pure turbojet-powered ground attacker was ready to fly. The escort carriers were being mothballed, and time had run out for the troubled A2D program.
Due largely to the failure of the T40 program to produce a reliable engine, the Skyshark never entered operational service. Twelve Douglas A2D Skysharks were built, two prototypes and ten preproduction aircraft. Most were scrapped or destroyed in accidents, and only one has survived (Ref.: 24).