Model Airplane News
May, 1947

Model Airplane News Cover for February, 1946 by Jo Kotula Ryan FR-1 Fireball    Model Airplane News Cover for May, 1947 by Jo Kotula Ryan FR-1 Fireball

Ryan FR-1 "Fireball"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for February, 1946 and May, 1947
by Jo Kotula
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The Ryan FR Fireball was a composite propeller and jet-powered aircraft designed by Ryan Aeronautical for the United States Navy during World War II. The Fireball entered service before the end of the war, but did not see combat. The FR-1 Fireball was the United States Navy's first aircraft with jet propulsion.

The Ryan FR-1 Fireball      The Ryan FR-1 Fireball

Ryan FR-1 "Fireball"
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The concept of composite production originated with Admiral John S. McCain, Sr (grandfather of the 2008 presidential candidate) . Early jet engines had sluggish acceleration which was considered unsafe and unsuitable for aircraft carrier takeoff and landing something which the propellor/jet composite would rectify. Orders were placed for 700 aircraft, but only 66 were delivered before Japan's surrender. One squadron, VF-66, was equipped with the aircraft before war's end, but they never saw combat. On November 6, 1945, the Fireball was the first aircraft to land under jet power on a carrier, although it was unintenional.. After the radial engine failed on final approach, the pilot managed to start the jet engine and land, barely catching the last arrestor wire. The aircraft were withdrawn in 1947, fairly soon after the war's end. With the rapid advance in technology, the Navy decided to wait for better aircraft to be developed. Other experiments in composite power were also treated on the cover of Model Airplane News,including:

Here is a video of the Ryan FR-1 "Fireball" in action:

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