Model Airplane News
December, 1936

Model Airplane News Cover for December, 1936 by Jo Kotula Vought V-143 Pursuit

Vought V-143 Pursuit
Model Airplane News Cover Art for December, 1936
by Jo Kotula
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A commonly held belief is that the enemy had the best fighter because someone in the United States sold it to the Japanese in the pre-war years. The aircraft in question was the Vought V-I43

Vought purchased the rights for a low wing monoplane that had been designed by Jack Northrop in the early 1930s. This prototype was notoriously unstable and in 1935, was lost without a trace during a test off the California coast. Vought built another plane from the Northrop plans, designated V-143. Due to stability problems, and an embarassing show in a contest in Argentina, there were no buyers in quantity. The sole V-143 prototype was sold to the Japanese Imperial Navy, which assigned it the designation AXV1.

 The Vought V-143 Pursuit     The Vought V-143 Pursuit     The Vought V-143 Pursuit

Vought V-143 Pursuit
(versus the Mitsubishi A6M Zero-Yasukuni
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In 1942, a Zero(Mitsubishi A6M "Zero-Yasukuni") was captured off the Alaskan coast. A soldier in the area, who had previously been an engineer with Vought, at first sight remarked it was practically the same aircraft he had worked on in 1936. As the story goes, the U. S. government turned to Vought to build an aircraft superior to the Zero, because, who knew the Zero's capabilities better? In point of fact, there is little similarity between the two aircraft designs. The Zero was a full 1,000 pounds heavier, all dimensions larger, and had different wing and tail designs than the V-143. On the other hand, Vought's method of undercarriage retraction provided the inspiration for that of the Japanese fighter.

Click Here for more information about the Vought V-143 Pursuit, especially about the Argentina contest and the sale to the Japanese.

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