Fairchild Engine Division started studies for a small, inexpensive turbojet in 1946, for a guided missile the company was developing. In June 1947 the US Navy awarded a contract to develop such an engine to power an air-to-undewater torpedo-carrying missile. The engine, designated the J44, was America's first expendable turbojet and was required to have a life of only 10 hours.
The Compressor was a mixed-flow, axial and centrifugal type with curved inducer vanes, and it was made of one piece of magnesium alloy casting that required no machining of the blades. Similary to the compressor, the diffuser section, with 3 rows of guide vanes, following the compressor was a single casting requiring no machining.
An annular combustion chamber was made from sheet metal and used in commercialy available oil burners. The single stage turbine had its blades welded on to a forged steel disc. A simple, stock stainless steel tube, with a welded flange at each end, formed the rotor connecting the turbine to the compressor.
There was a bearing before the compressor and aft of the turbine, and a fixed-area exhaust nozzle was used.
In August 1948 the XJ44 made its first run. The first flight was made in mid 1950 when it powered Fairchild's Petrel Missile. As service trial proceeded, so problems with J44 where thrown up, most of them attribuable to over-simplified production. A lot of changes were required, and development of J44 was completed by October 1954 under designation J44-R-3.
The Improved engine was mounted on a Fairchild C-82 cargo aircraft, then later to each wingtips of the Fairchild C-123B cargo aircraft. Another use of the J44 was one the experimental Bell model 65 VTOL Aircraft.
The main usage of the J44 was to power the Firebee drone, although, with a specific fuel consumption of 1,55 it could not compete with Continental's J-69 (Licence version of Turbomeca's Marbore) and it was taken out of production by 1959.
Diameter: 0,56 m
Length: 2,24 m
Frontal area: 0,25 m²
Dry Weight, without accessories: 127 kg
Dry weight: 363 lb. (165 kg.)
Compressor: single stage centrifugal flow compressor
Combustors: annular combuster
Turbine: two-stage turbine
Fuel type: JP-4
Static thrust: 454 kg
Maximum thrust: 2450 lb. (10.9 kN)
Specific fuel consumption: 0.94 SFC
Thrust-to-weight ratio: 6.5:1