Curtiss-Wright CW-29 / XF-87 Blackhawk / Nighthawk
Curtiss had obtained tentative approval to build a twin-jet ground-attack aircraft, the XA-43. On 21 November 1945, this project was redirected towards completion of the Blackhawk fighter, mid-wing, four-engine craft with a two-man crew in side-by-side seating and with large fuel capacity. Powered by four 1360kg thrust Westinghouse XJ34-WE-7 turbojets, the sole XF-87 was flown at Muroc Dry Lake, California, on 1 March 1948 following long delays in its development and shipment from the company's plant (later sold to North American) in Columbus, Ohio.
The two prototypes were S/N identifiers as the 45-59600 and the 46-522. The 46-522 was modified to become the single XF-87A production aircraft.
The XF-87 proved to be underpowered. In the expectation that a different powerplant arrangement would make the Blackhawk more competitive, the twin-engine scheme was resurrected. On 10 June 1948, the USAF awarded a contract to Curtiss for 57 production F-87As to be powered by two 2722kg thrust each General Electric J47-GE-7 engines located in pairs on each wing. A further order was placed for 30 RF-87A reconnaissance aircraft.
The design featured four 20-mm cannon in a fixed nose installation and would have been fitted with a nose turret developed by the Glenn L. Martin Company which revolved in a 60-degree arc enabling four 20mm guns to be fired at any angle from zero to 90 degrees from the centre-line.
Though the Blackhawk was able to overcome teething troubles in flight tests and seemed to offer promise as an all-weather interceptor, Curtiss was suffering from management difficulties and Northrop was developing an interceptor with solid potential, the F-89 Scorpion. On 18 October 1948, the USAF cancelled the F-87 Blackhawk programme in favour of the F-89. A second prototype which would have evaluated the twin J47 installation was never completed. It was to be the last Curtiss fighter.
The first aeroplane was known as the Nighthawk and powered by four Westinghouse J34-WE-7 engines, while the second was known as the Blackhawk and powered by four General Electric J47-GE-15 engines, the XP-87 Nighthawk flew.
The Nighthawk and its Blackhawk counterpart were later scrapped.
Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Nighthawk
Engines: 4 x Westinghouse XJ34-WE-7 turbojet, 3,000lbs thrust
Wingspan: 18.29 m / 60 ft 0 in
Length: 19.15 m / 62 ft 10 in
Height: 6.1 m / 20 ft 0 in
Wing area: 55.74 sq.m / 599.98 sq ft
Maximum Speed: 585mph (941kmh; 508kts)
Maximum Range: 1,000miles (1,609km)
Service Ceiling: 40,000ft (12,200m)
4 x 20mm cannons in remote-controlled nose turret.
2 x 12.7mm machine guns
Empty weight: 11760 kg / 25926 lb
Maximum Take-Off Weight:49,833lbs (22,604kg)