In the end of 1942 the U.S. Navy drew up a specification for a new fighter-bomber with a composite powerplant, which would use one of the new turbojets then being developed, as well as a more conventional radial engine with propeller. The idea was that the piston engine would be used for landing operations, long-range cruising, extra speed to supplement the turbojet, and as an insurance policy against the possible failure of the jet engine. Ryan provided the best proposal, and was awarded the contract, with the first prototype being flown in June 1944. The Fireball was the first U.S. Navy production aircraft to have a flush riveted exterior and metal-covered control surfaces. With contracts calling for 1,300 Fireballs, the FR-1s began to equip the Navy in March 1945; however, VJ-Day cancellations left only 66 examples produced. None of these saw operational use during the war, but Fireballs were used for carrier trials after the war until being withdrawn in late 1947. (To see another WWII U.S. Navy composite powerplant aircraft, view the Curtiss XF15C-1 page.)
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Additional information on this aircraft can be found at Wikipedia here.
(updated February 2009)
Ryan FR Fireball
Type: carrier-based fighter-bomber Crew: 1 Armament: four .50 inch machine guns up to 1,000 lb. of bombs, or 8 5" rockets Specifications: Length: 32' 4" (9.86 m) Height: 13' 7.25" (4.15 m) Wingspan: 40' 0" (12.19 m) Wing area: 275 sq. ft (25.55 sq. m) Empty Weight: 7915 lb (3590 kg) Max Weight: 10,595 lb (4806 kg) max at takeoff Propulsion: No. of Engines: 1 1 Powerplant #1: Wright R-1820-72W Cyclone radial Powerplant #2: General Electric J31-GE-3 turbojet Horsepower: 1425 hp (piston) 1600 lb thrust (jet) Performance: Range: 1030 miles (1658 km) Cruise Speed: 153 mph ( 246 km/h) Max Speed (both): 426 mph ( 686 km/h) at 18,100 ft Max Speed (piston only): 295 mph ( 745 km/h) at 16,500 ft Ceiling: 43,100 ft (13,135 m)
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