Grumman XF5F Skyrocket

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The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket was designed as a lightweight carrier-borne fighter for the U.S. Navy.  It was a distinctive design featuring twin engines and a forward fuselage which did not extend past the leading edge of the wing.  The prototype flew for the first time on 01 April 1940.  (NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)
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The Skyrocket was powered by two Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engines which produced 1,200 each.  The R-1820 was widely used in several U.S. designs of the period and was produced under license in Spain and the Soviet Union.  Armament was two 20 mm cannon.  (NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)
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The combination of light weight and high horsepower gave the Skyrocket impressive performance.  Initial rate of climb was 4,000 feet per minute (1,220 m/min), easily outpacing the XF4U Corsair prototype.  Maximum speed was 383 mph (616 km/h).  (NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)
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The Skyrocket featured several desirable characteristics for a carrier aircraft. The propellers were engineered to rotate in opposite directions which eliminated the issue of torque on take-off.  The twin engines provided redundancy in case of damage or mechanical failure, a feature the U.S. Navy would come to require for later designs.  The stubby nose did not restrict the vision of the pilot during shipboard recovery.  (NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)
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The wings were designed to be folded to increase storage capacity aboard the aircraft carrier from the outset, a feature lacking on several of the naval aircraft in service at the time.
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Cockpit design was conventional.  Visible at the bottom of the photograph is the transparency through the lower fuselage, a common feature on naval aircraft which allowed the pilot to view the carrier deck on landing approach.
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Port side of the cockpit interior showing the twin throttle arrangement.
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Grumman also developed the design to meet a USAAC requirement for a land-based twin-engine interceptor which became known as the XP-50 Skyrocket .  This featured an extended nose and redesigned engine nacelles which improved both the maximum speed and rate of climb.
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While the XP-50 was promising, the USAAF ultimately decided not to produce either it nor the competing Lockheed XP-49, instead focusing efforts on improving the performance of the Lockheed P-38 which was already in production.
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The U.S. Navy decided not to adopt the Skyrocket as its standard shipboard fighter, opting instead for another Grumman design, the F4F Wildcat.  The Wildcat was favored because of its reduced cost and mechanical complexity.  Grumman continued to operate and make modifications to the Skyrocket prototype until it was damaged in a belly landing on 11DEC44.  However, the concepts pioneered by the Skyrocket were eventually refined and developed into the successful F7F Tigercat.