Model Airplane News|
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1950
by Jo Kotula
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The Martin XB-51 was an American "tri-jet" ground attack aircraft designed in 1945 as an attack aircraft by the Air Force under specification V-8237-1 and was designated XA-45, but it was reclassified the next year as the XB-51,a low-level and close support bomber.
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The B-51 was a large but aerodynamically "clean" design with three engines, one at the extreme tail with an intake at the base of the tailfin, and two underneath the forward fuselage in pods. The innovative wings, swept were equipped with variable incidence, leading-edge slots, that allowed for a shorter takeoff run. Four Rocket-Assisted Take Off (RATO) bottles could be fitted to the rear fuselage to further improve takeoff performance. Spectacular launches were a feature of later test flights. The main landing gear consisted of dual sets of wheels in tandem in the fuselage, with outrigger wheels at the wingtips The aircraft was fitted with a rotating bomb bay, a Martin trademark; bombs could also be carried externally as well Eight 20 mm cannons mounted in the nose would have been installed in production aircraft.
The XB-51 lost out in evaluation to the English Electric Canberra which entered service as the B-57. Although faster than the Canberra, XB-51's endurance was substantially poorerand this proved to be the deciding factor. Additionally, the tandem main gear plus outriggers of the XB-51 was thought unsuitable for the requirement to fly from emergency forward airfields.
The first prototype, 46-685 continued to fly, including appearing in the film Toward the Unknown featuring the XB-51 playing the role of the "Gilbert XF-120" as shown in the following clip:
Click Here for more information about the Martin XB-51 .
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