Beechcraft 28 Destroyer / XA-38
The XA-38 was a developmental twin-engine heavy fighter produced by Beech. Only two XA-38 prototypes were ever built with the project ultimately shelved at the end of the war.
The United States Army Air Force entered into a contractual agreement with Beech Aircraft in December of 1942 after considering the company's Beechcraft Model 28. The contract called for two initial prototypes to be built as the XA-38 to fulfill a requirement replacing the Douglas A-20 Havocs then in service. This new aircraft would have to exceed in all areas the A-20. The XA-38 achieved first flight on May 7th, 1944 with Beech test pilot Vern Carstens at the controls, from the Beech airfield in Wichita, Kansas. It was then flown to Elgin Field in Florida to undergo testing with the US Army.
Design of the XA-38 centered around the large 75mm cannon armament mounted in the nose. The cannon was positioned as such that the barrel protruded from the nose cone assembly of the all-metal airframe. The fuselage was of a conventional design featuring a forward cockpit area and a rear gunner station and fit together as four main sections for ease of maintenance and repairs. Wings were mid-mounted monoplane airfoil of NACA-2300 series, joining the fuselage to each side of the cockpit and designed with a heated leading edge and surfaces. On the wings were twin Wright R-3350-53 radial engines of 2,700 horsepower each, driving three-bladed, constant speed Hamilton Standard propellers. Cooling was provided for through circular cowlings and controlled via automatic flaps. The engine nacelles were fitted to the wing leading edges. The empennage was conventional and featured a horizontal tailplane with two vertical tail fins. The undercarriage was a typical "tail dragger", with two forward single-wheeled landing gears and a single-wheeled tail system - all fully retractable via hydraulics with a backup pneumatic emergency system. Crew accommodations was the pilot and a gunner under separate glazed canopies. The gunner sat in a dorsal position on the empennage.
While the primary armament of the XA-38 was its nose-mounted 75mm cannon (the entire forward nose section was hinged to open upwards for easy access to the cannon), this was augmented by 6 x .50 caliber Browning air-cooled heavy machine guns. Two were fitted to the lower forward nose section in a forward-firing fixed position while the remaining four were placed in dorsal and ventral General Electric remote-controlled turrets (two machine guns to a turret). These turrets were tracked via periscope sights by the gunner in his rear cabin. Additional external stores could be carried. With its accessible hinged nose assembly, the XA-38 was envisioned to fit other adaptable armament systems.
The XA-38 posted stable flight characteristics but was most notable for her top speed. Her speed was comparable to the single-engine fighters of her day. The XA-38 fell by the wayside as the B-29's took her engines, the need for dedicated attack craft dwindles and the war came to its inevitable close a year later. It is known that one of the XA-38 prototypes fell the way of the scrap yard while the whereabouts of the other prototype are unknown.
Beechcraft XA-38 Destroyer (Model 28)