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Got: The Boeing XF8B

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#1 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 27 April 2005 - 02:12 AM

Surprisingly, this American aircraft is not well-documented on the net. But at least, we have samoloty.ow.pl! [We had. This magnificent website is long time gone. RT 10/30/2013] The translation is again done with poltran.com, what looked like a bit improved than before.
Hope you enjoy to read about

The Boeing XF8B

This aircraft was the biggest and heaviest fighter aircraft designed to serve from the deck of an aircraft carrier of the American navy during WWII. It was constructed as basic attack fighter for the new big fleet aircraft carriers of the "Midway" class. It had to grant tasks of classic fighters for protection of ship convoys by intercepting , as well as operation in the offensive deck aerial group, doing horizontal bombing and ground attacking purpose, also being a fast torpedo bomber and a long-range escort fighter.

The new aircraft project, bearuing the factory designation 400, received the specification number SD-349 by the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) in 1943. BuAer again expected fighter to have a maximum speed 550 km/h, minimal speed not greater than 127 km /h, at least a ceiling of 9144 m, length of start at a wind about a speed of 25 knots 80 m and speed of catapulting at sea level 19,1 m/s.
The range of the aircraftwith only internal fuel tanks was one of the most important claims, and had to exceed the one of the deck fighters already in use significantly. Model 400, being Boeing's first fighter project since 10 years, was accepted by BuAer on April 10th, 1943. It was a big all-metal cantilever low-wing construction with a fully retractable three-point undercarriage and a closed cockpit for the pilot. The trapezium-shaped wings were equipped with flaps and slats. One of the smartest available engines were chosen for to drive the new plane, the four-row 28-cylinder Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-10 radial, delivering 2237 kW (3000 hp, 3042 KM), driving two counter-rotating three-blade propellers. The armament design consisted either of six heavy machine guns of caliber 12,7 mm, or six 20 mm or 30 mm cannons as well. An interesting detail for this class of aircraft was its internal bomb bay, allowing to carry a bomb load of 1452 kg or an additional fuel tank having the capacity of 1022 litres. The outside-hanging rest of the armament, consisting of bombs, rockets or even torpedoes, cuould be hung on six clinches under the wings and one below the fuselage.
On two clinches, also two extrenal rejectable fuel tanks with a capacity of 568 litres each could be fixed instead of armament, thus boosting the maximum range of the aircraft.

In April 1943 (other source says on May 4th), BuAer ordered Boeing to produce three flying prototypes (BuAer serial numbers 57984, 57985 and 57986), and one mockup for static tests, simultaneously transmitting the military designation index F8B. The primary version of the machine had folding wings, like aircrafts of the firm Grumman, and a pivot fuselage end. The intakes of the oil coolers were placed in the leading edges of the wings. The undercarriage folded into the wings in direction from the fuselage to the outside. Going farther with the design, under the direction of project chief engineer Lyle A. Wood the oil coolers were unified to a single big one located under the fuselage. The folding mechanism of the wings was also redesigned, so that only the external part of the wings could be folded to the top. The manner of retracting the undercarriage also underwent a change, now getting sheltered to the rear, simultaneously performing a 90 degrees turn. This mechanism was developed by Boeing already in the early 30s, but was never employed on an aircraft earlier. However, in 1934 it was patented by Curtiss and was successfully used in several types of fighters. All these changes not only decreased the mass of the construction, but also, as proved in an wind tunnel, led to an important decrease of drag. After the introduction of the farthest changes (including a long vertical stabilizer fin as used in the bombers B-17 and B-29), the project was finished in October 1943.

Only in the fall of 1944, the first prototype of XF8B-1, serial no. 57984, on November 27th made its first flight from Boeing airfield, with test pilot Robert "Bob" Lamson at the controls. During the test period, a place for a second crew member was foreseen, an engineer to supervise the tests. This was no major problem, because the XF8B-1 had the biggest cabin ever employed in a fighter. The first military pilot being acquainted with it from January 9th, 1945, was Navy Commander Jock Sutherland.

The general results of the first trial flights were positive - the aircraft was stable and pilotage easy, the cabin providing excellent view, controllability during flight and landing was good. The aircraft suffered no dangerous failure until February 13th, when during roll tests suddenly the machine broke out of the lane, but pilot Lamson managed to return safely to the ground. For unexplained reason, the undercarriage remained inside, causing a belly landing totally breaking the propeller, the oil cooler intakes, the undercarriage cover and the bomb bay doors. The machine was quickly repaired and in March it already flew in the Naval Air Station (NAS) in Patuxent River, Maryland, where it was tested by US Navy and US Marine Corps pilots.

Meanwhile the second prototype of the XF8B-1, serial no. 57985 had left the factory on January 31st, 1945, but the test program was delayed due to lack of an engine until November 27th, 1945, exactly one year after the first prototype had taken off for the first time.Despite good performance and flight controllability, the XF8B was not developed further. So then, the US Navy command regarded a perspective with jet propelled aircraft - the McDonnell FH Phantom, the North American FJ Fury and the Vought F6U Pirate. For the purposes of the meantime, they employed enough fighters in service, the Grumman F6F Hellcat and the Vought F4U Corsair, as well as the new Grumman F7F Tigercat and F8F Bearcat.

On February 13th, 1946, the second prototype was transferred to Wright Field, Ohio, for tests by the US Army Air Force. The third prototype, serial no. 57986, went to the test base Eglin Field in Florida. Relatively to the first prototype, the design of the cabin and the cover of the undercarriage wheels was slightly modified. They tested the fighter for three purposes: interceptor, long-range escort fighte and long-range light bomber. After the crash of the second prototype, the tests continued with the third one until December 11th, 1946. The USAAF representatives were not satisfied with the test results, and handed the two remaining prototypes back to the navy, where they were ultimately transferred to the Naval Air Material Command (NAMC) in Philadelphia. The first two prototypes were decommissioned on January 31st, 1948, the third one only on March 16th, 1950. The XF8B-1 was Boeing's last fighter driven by a piston engine.

See the original page on samoloty.ow.pl for technical data and pictures.


1. Jane's All The Worlds Aircraft, rocznik 1947

2. V. Nemeček "Vojenska letadla", dil 3, Nase Vojsko, Praha, 1992

3. W. Green, G. Swanborough "The Complete Book of Fighters", Smithmark, New York, 1994

4. E. Angelucci, P. Bowers "The American Fighter", Orion Books, 1987

5. Airpower Vol. 5 No. 4 (July, 1975)


#2 panzerjager88


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Posted 27 April 2005 - 02:40 AM

no picture...very dissapointed in you [:P]

just kidding, good read

#3 Trexx


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Posted 27 April 2005 - 05:05 AM

I found a photograph!

Check it out:

Posted Image

#4 GregP


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Posted 27 April 2005 - 08:28 AM

Thanks RT!

This type is, to me at least, one of the types we SHOULD have bought. Instead, we eventually bought the Douglas Skyraider. I am going out on a limb here, but the Boeing plane probably would have done the job well, and would have been faster. We have no idea if could have been developed to haul more laod since it wasn't pursued.

The Boeing was 6436 kg empty, 9848 kg loaded, went 695 kph max, 528 kph cruise, and had six 20 mm cannons or six 12.7 mm MG.

The Douglas was 4787 kg empty, 11,343 kg loaded, went 515 kph max, 306 kph cruise, and had four 20 mm cannons.

However ... check out the difference in payload! The Skyraider hauled more than its own empty weight!

In retrospect, since the Skyraider was a propeller plane in a jet sky, the extra speed of the Boeing would not have meant much ... but the payload did!

Let's recall that the first Skyraider didn't haul anywhere NEAR as much as later versions, so we don't relly know if the Boeing F8B would have been a worthy contender or an also-ran mediocre type.

I DO think it LOOKS better than the Sjyraider, but that counts for nothing when a bomb load on target is needed.

#5 Trexx


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Posted 28 April 2005 - 03:49 AM

I've read that the Skyraider came about because of the developmental problems with the Curtis Helldiver. Douglas did the Skyraider to fill the Navys requirement for which the Helldiver was intended.

#6 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 28 April 2005 - 04:48 AM

Glad to see, that you have read the text, Panzerjager! Your mother always told you not only to look at the pictures! :D

Anyway, I give a link to the original samoloty site, there is something, and not much better elsewhere:

[dead old samoloty.ow. pl link]


You are always welcome, Greg. Originally, I wanted to add a "duel" thread, the XF8B against the Mitsubishi Ki-73:


but I forgot that there are not even assumed data about the Ki-73 available, so I think it would be demanding too much.

If you don't know already, read about the Ki-73 here:


#7 tenmmike


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Posted 30 April 2005 - 11:33 AM

sorry for quality of pic as my scanner seems to be on the fritz
Posted Image

#8 andyo2000


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Posted 01 May 2005 - 02:12 AM

GregP, you bring up an interesting point in comparing the Skyraider and the XF8. It seems to me that the Skyraider would make a better bomber than the Boeing, but would be an inferior fighter.

The Boeing - range 3500 miles, ceiling 37500 feet
The Douglas - range 900 miles, ceiling 25500 feet

It seems that even as a prototype, the Boeing was a versatile fighter-bomber. The Skyraider didn't do bad, but there's no way to tell if a future version of the XF8 might have been more successful. Plus, with a range almost four times as long as the Douglas, it could have been much more useful. The Skyraider was useful in the Korean War because of its ability to stay over the target for long periods of time, but the Boeing could have stayed longer, twice as long in fact.

#9 gr6238


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Posted 01 May 2005 - 07:04 AM

RT this is a great topic choice!

Some years ago I had the distinct honor and pleasure of interviewing Bob Lamson in depth about the F8B and many other Boeing airplanes, and a variety of other aviation topics. Physically diminutive, but large in accomplishment, Bob Lamson was Boeing’s sole test pilot assigned to the F8B. He flew the 314 Clipper flying boat and B-29 Superfortress with legendary test pilot Eddie Allen, piloted the C-97 Stratofreighter series, and flew the 377 Stratocruiser on its maiden flight.

When I met Bob he was associated with Aviation Partners, the firm that created the blended winglet now seen on many Next Generation 737s. In his office Bob had a large photo of the F8B over his desk, and told me that he was still very fond of it, nearly half a century later. Before the navy scrapped its F8Bs, Bob and his associates attempted to buy them for conversion to racers – the navy refused. No F8B survives today.

The F8B was a large, heavy and expensive airplane, high tech in engine, supercharger, contra-rotating propellers, and power boosted ailerons. Like many Boeing airplanes the F8B had several electrically powered systems: wing flaps, wing folding, landing gear, tail arrestor hook. Republic’s XP-72 fighter, flown about 10 months earlier, had a similar engine, supercharger, and propeller (second prototype had contra-props, flown on 6-26-1944) setup, and contributed materially to the success of the F8B. F8B flight-testing went well, the first prototype flew again after crashing on 2-13-1945 at Boeing Field.

While designed as a multi-role airplane: escort fighter, interceptor, assault aircraft, light bomber and torpedo bomber, the navy had better fighters (F4U, F8F) in being, better interceptors (F8B, FR-1) at the time, and while the F8B was designated as a fighter, today it would be termed an attack plane. Its competitors for production contracts included the Douglas AD Skyraider, which ultimately won the lion’s share of business. The navy had, in the F8B, a very high performance airplane, greatly out performing the AD Skyraider and Martin AM Mauler. Wanting the F8B, the navy requested a quote on 600 production aircraft, which Boeing did not respond to – thus ended the future of the airplane. Evidently, at the time (1946) Boeing considered itself a large airplane manufacturer for the USAAF and the airlines: its projects included final B-29 production, B-50 design, B-47 design, C-97 production, 377 design and gas turbine engine development. All of those previous aircraft and engines entered production.

USAAF testing of the F8B at Eglin Field, FL, in 1946 was successful, but the extreme range, 3,000+ miles necessitated two pilots, and thousands of capable piston engined attack airplanes were in the inventory, namely the P-38L, P-47N, and the two-crew P-82 was in limited production, and it could be used in the attack role. And, the jet age had arrived, there was no war, and the F8B was, after all, a navy airplane, so the AAF bought none.

The following is from the Boeing Archives, Seattle, WA., and the F8B Pilot’s Handbook which Bob so graciously loaned me for an extended period. Bob edited my aviation database article, and the specification below is the result.

Highest speed attained during testing: 462 mph/25’ K/3,600wep hp in level flight; 500+ mph[M 0.82]/?’ K dived.

Specification speed,mph 432/26.5’ K 372/sl dive 500+[M 0.82]/?‘ K cruise 190/?’ K ldg 79
climb,fpm 3,660/sl ceiling serv 37,500’ abs ‘?
range,mi ferry 3,500 2,300 distance t/o 550’ ldg ?’
weight,lb empty 14,190 gr 20,508 max 22,960
engine PW XR-4360-10 Wasp Major radial 3,000/3,450wep hp
geared 2 stage, variable speed, inter-cooled supercharger
Aero Products/GM hyd cs ff 2 x 3 blade contra-rotating 14’ 0” dia
armament 6 x 0.50” mg/400 rpg or 6 x 20mm cannon/200 rpg wing
mounted, free firing +
6,400 lb bombs - 3,200 lb in bomb bay +
3,200 lb mounted on 2 underwing pylons
fuel,gal int 395/wings + 270/bomb bay [droppable tank, no bombs] +
2 x underwing droptank 300 = 1,265
span 54’ 0” area,ft2 489 length 43’ 3” height 16’ 3”

Probably the most significant question I asked Bob was: since you flew and tested the F8B with the R-4360 engine, supercharger and contra-prop power train setup successfully during WWII, do you think it could/should have been put in mass production for use by the AAF in P-72 during the war? He responded with an empathic yes! Oft told is that the P-72 was cancelled due the emergence of turbojet fighters, but the US committed none to battle during WWII, and author Warren Bode who writes profusely about Republic’s fighters, believes that pure politics killed the P-72 in June 1944. Gone was an opportunity to field a 500+ mph fighter with dive recovery flaps, with which to counter German jets on more nearly equal terms. With its auxiliary supercharger (geared or turbo?, I have read about both) installed (it never was), speeds of 540+ mph/25’ K in level flight were envisioned.

The best,


#10 Trexx


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Posted 07 May 2005 - 05:56 AM

Thanks, man! I ate that up!

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