Model Airplane News
April, 1935

Model Airplane News Cover for April, 1935 by Jo Kotula Northrup XFT Fighter

Northrup XFT Fighter
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1935
by Jo Kotula
Click to Enlarge

The Northrop XFT was an American prototype fighter aircraft of the 1930s. A single engined low winged monoplane, it was designed and built to meet a United States Navy order for an advanced carrier based fighter. It exhibited poor handling, however, and was rejected by the Navy, the single prototype being lost in a crash.

 The Northrup XFT Fighter    The Northrup XFT Fighter -- model in wind tunnel     The Northrup XFT Fighter

Photos of the Northrup XFT Fighter
(middle) Model of the XFT in the Wind Tunnel
Click to Enlarge

In the early 1930s, the United States Navy was interested in investigating the use of modern, monoplanes as fighter aircraft to replace the biplanes that equipped its fighter squadrons.

The XFT was designed to meet this requirement by a team led by Ed Heinemann. It was a low winged monoplane, of all-metal stressed skin construction. It had a fixed tailwheel undercarriage with its main gear fitted with streamlining trouser fairings. The pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit with a sliding canopy. It was powered by a single Wright R-1510 radial engine.

The XFT-1 first flew on 16 January 1934. While it was the fastest fighter tested by the Navy, its handling characteristics were poor. It was sent back for redesign and came back as the XFT-2 with a more powerful engine; its handling was even poorer than before, and it was rejected by the US Navy as unairworthy. A test pilot attempted to fly the XFT-2 back to California, but it crashed when crossing the Allegheny Mountains on 21 July 1936. The Navy was right.

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