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Bell XFL-1 Airabonita




In 1938 the US Navy became involved in three new fighter projects - the Grumman XF5F-1 and similar USAAF XP-50, the Bell XF1-1 and the Vought XF4U-1. The long term intention was to bolster the Navy's car-rier forces whose squadrons flew the Grumman F3F-2 biplane fighter of the mid-1930s.

The XFL-1 experimental shipboard fighter was developed in parallel with the XP-39 Airacobra, and was flown for the first time on 13 May 1940 with test pilot Brian Sparks at the controls. Powered by a 1150hp Allison XV-1710-6 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, the XFL-1 had a tailwheel undercarriage and underwing radiators. The airframe was re-stressed for shipboard operation, and proposed armament comprised a single 12.7mm machine gun or a 37mm cannon firing through the propeller hub and a pair of fuselage-mounted 7.62mm guns, although, in the event, no armament was installed.

The use of the conventional undercarriage also worked against the XFL as problems began to develop during testing. As a result, the system had to be shipped back to Bell Aircraft for further revisions in late 1941. By this time, however, the United States Navy decided to pursue a different direction and cancelled development of the XFL in whole.

The XFL-1 failed its carrier qualification trials and further development was abandoned at the beginning of 1942. The single XFL-1 prototype cost US$125,000, and was then used in a series of armament tests until it was eventually scrapped.




Engine: 1150hp Allison XV-1710-6
Max take-off weight: 3271 kg / 7211 lb
Empty weight: 2341 kg / 5161 lb
Wingspan: 10.67 m / 35 ft 0 in
Length: 9.09 m / 29 ft 10 in
Height: 3.90 m / 12 ft 10 in
Wing area: 21.55 sq.m / 231.96 sq ft
Max. speed: 494 km/h / 307 mph
Range: 1725 km / 1072 miles
Rate-of-Climb: 2,630ft/min (802m/min)
Service Ceiling: 30,922ft (9,425m)
Accommodation: 1





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