Jets45 Histories

McDonnell XFD-1"Phantom"

A FH-1 Phantom flying over the Western USA

Specification for the XFD-1
    Engine: 2x Westinghouse WE-19XB-2B axial-flow turbojet making 1,650 lb of thrust each.
    Wing Span: 40' 9''
    Length: 37' 3''
    Weight: Empty 6,156 lb / Loaded 8,625 lb
    Maximum Speed: 487 mph
    Ceiling: 43,700'
    Range: 750 miles
    Crew: 1 Pilot
    Armament: 4x 0.5 in machine guns


In 1942 when the US Navy started looking for a manufacturer to design there first all jet powered fighter, they found all of the major companies were at full stretch with war work. So the Navy's jet powered fighter, ended up being designed and built by the young McDonnell Aircraft Corporation. On the 7/1/1943 a letter of Intent was issued for the design and construction of two prototypes (48235/48236) and one static airframe.

The design of the XFD-1 was by a team led by Kendall Perkins, a number of engine arrangements and sizes were looked at as the engine supplier Westinghouse, had yet to build it!, in the end a two engine lay out was found to be superior (on paper) with a mockup being ready by June 1943, however the design was not fully defined until January 1944 with work on the first aircraft starting on the 25/1/1944.

In the mean time Westinghouse were not able to deliver a working engine until October 1944, so the prototype first flew (a short hop) on 2/1/1945 with just one engine fitted, the second engine not arriving until the 4/1/1945. Finally on the 26/1/1945 with test pilot Woodward Burke at the controls the first XFD-1 flew for 49 minutes. However testing of the prototypes revealed a number of stability and aileron problems, with the second XFD-1 (48236) crashing on 24/8/1945 and the first (48235) on the 1/11/1945 killing it's pilot Woodward Burke. This resulted in the production aircraft being redesigned slightly bigger with a new vertical tail and a greater fuel capacity

On the 7/3/1945 a contract for 100 production aircraft was issued, but after 8/8/1945 this was cut back to just 60 aircraft, all of which were delivered by May 1948 as FH-1s, the redesignstion being changed from D to H in 1947.

The very first landing and take off on a Carrier USS Roosevelt
The "Phantom's" replacement the F2H-1 "Banshee"

On the 19/7/46 during sea trials the second XFD-1 (48236) made the first take off and landing by a US jet powered aircraft on a Navy carrier the USS Roosevelt CVC-42. The FH-1 entered service with VF-17A squadron on the 29/4/1947, with the aircraft remaining in service with the US Navy as a front line fighter until 1949 being also flown by VF-11 and VF-172 squadrons. The "Phantom" begain to be replaced from 1948 onwards by the F2H-1"Banshee".

The last of the FH-1s were used by the Navy Reserve until 1953. The "Phantom" also was flown by the US Marine Corps from 1947 until 1950 by VMF-122 squadron, making it the first jet fighter to serve with the Marines..

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