Model Airplane News
June, 1948

Model Airplane News Cover for June, 1948 by Jo Kotula Grumman XTBF3-1 Guardian

Grumman XTBF3-1 "Guardian"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for June, 1948
by Jo Kotula
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Range and bomb load were critical issues in naval aircaft design in the late 1940s. The idea was to be able to project power well beyond the 300 mile limit of World War II carrier aircraft. Grumman entered this arena with a concept for a plane that became known as the XTB2F-1, a carrier-based torpedo bomber with twin radial engines driving a single prop. The XTB2F-1 would be able to carry up to 8,000 pounds of bombs or torpedoes, and would have an extremely long range of up to 3,700 miles. This idea proved to heavy for carrier operations and was abandoned.

 The Grumman XTBF3-1 Guardian     The Grumman XTBF3-1 Guardian

Grumman XTBF3-1 "Guardian"

The Grumman AF-15 Guardian      The Grumman AF-15Guardian

Grumman AF-15 "Guardian"
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Grumman then hit upon a solution using composite power, mixing piston engines with jet power. The aircraft would have two radial engines providing 2,300 horsepower and a turbojet in the tail. The turbojet was to be used to provide additional power for takeoffs and combat emergencies. It should be noted that at this time, composite power was somewhat in vogue. Jo Kotula was apparently quite enamored of the idea and featured most of the experimental composite power planes on the five covers of Model Airplane News,in addition to this one.

The Grumman Company called this Model"G-70"; when the Navy ordered three G-70 prototypes, the plane was designated "XTB3F". The initial XTB3F-1 prototype flew in December 1945. The turbojet intakes were masked off because of problems encountered in ground tests. The jet engine proved to be a bad idea and was quickly removed without ever being used in flight. The Navy decided that they no longer needed a new torpedo bomber, and told Grumman that they wanted an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft instead. There was no way at the time to cram all the necessary ASW gear into a single aircraft, and so two variants of the "Guardian", as it was named, were planned, with the pair to act as a "hunter-killer" team. The single XTB3F-2 prototype became the "hunter" with two more seats for radar operators and a large ventral radome. This aircraft became the "XTB3F-1S" and first flew in November 1948. The second XTB3F-1 prototype was built as the "killer" member of the team, retaining the bombbay but deleting the cannon, adding a third seat, and providing a searchlight and short-range radar. This aircraft became the "XTB3F-2S" and first flew in January 1949, with both aircraft performing naval flight tests in February. The XTB3F-1S "hunter" was built as "AF-2W" (originally "AF-1S") Guardian, and the XTB3F-2S "killer" was built as the "AF-2S". The first production AF-2S Guardian flew on in November of 1949. The first operational aircraft went into service in October 1950.

In addition to the cover of Model Airplane News, this airplane was also featured in the WINGS "Friend or Foe" trading card series of the early 1950s

 Card 039 of the Wings Friend or Foe series  The Grumman AF-15 Guardian

Trading card representation of the Grumman XTBF3-1 "Guardian".
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