Model Airplane News
August, 1940

Model Airplane News Cover for August, 1940 by Jo Kotula Grumman XF5F Skyrocket

Grumman XF5F "Skyrocket"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for August, 1940
by Jo Kotula
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The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket (company model G-34) was a prototype of a twin-engine shipboard fighter-interceptor. It was a futuristic advance in design at a time when monoplane fighters were evolving from bi-planes. The aircraft is quite striking since the forward part of the fuselage did not extend forward of the wing. The basic design grows out of "lifting body" theory advocated by Vincent Burnelli (See the MAN cover for August, 1937.)

Burnelli Twin Engine Fighter Patent No. 2,281,673     Burnelli Twin Engine Fighter Patent No. 2,281,673

Burnelli inspiration for the Grumman XF5F "Skyrocket"
Burnelli Twin Engine Fighter Patent No. 2,281,673
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The plane inspired many to flights of fancy. The very early Blackhawk comic books featured the fabled international heroes in daring missions that used something like the "Skyrocket". Seventy some years later, the design is still quite startling.

Of course, reality is often quite disappointing.

 The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket    Cover of Blackhawk No. 12 (Autumn 1946).      Model of the The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket

Photos of the Grumman XF5F "Skyrocket"
Cover of Blackhawk No. 12 (Autumn 1946)
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The U.S. Navy ordered one prototype airplane on 30 June 1938 with the designation XF5F-1. Provisions were included in the prototype for two 23 mm cannons.

The aircraft flew for the first time in 1940. Engine cooling problems arose in the initial flights, resulting in modification to the oil cooling ducts. Further modifications were made to the prototype including reduction in the height of the cockpit canopy, revising the armament installation to four 50 caliber machine guns in place of the cannon, redesign of the engine nacelles, adding spinners to the propellers, and extending the fuselage forward of the wing. These changes were not completed until 1942. The prototype continued to be used in various tests, although plagued by various landing gear problems, until it was struck from the list of active aircraft after it crashed in 1944.

Here is a video of a really nice radio-controlled model of the Grumman XF5F "Skyrocket" in action. It is truly unfortunate that no newsreel footage is available for the X5F. Regardless of the practical difficulties, this model shows how intriguing this design can be.

Since we put this page on the site, we have received an interesting letter from readers Collette and John in New Zealand; They write:

"... My husband built a 100 inch wingspan RC model of one, which has since met an untimely demise. He is currently building a second one, and we are always looking for memorabillia of this plane. Accidently came across your site (loving all the art covers!!) and noticed the August 1940 edition. We have a video of our Skyrocket flying on Youtube.... (well, two or three really) ..."

You can watch their video, as well:

Click Here for more information about the Grumman XF5F "Skyrocket".

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