The Vultee XA-41 was an interesting "what if" aircraft. It was the last, and perhaps best attempt to fulfill the impossible desire to have an attack aircraft with the bombload, weapons, and long range of a bomber with the speed and maneuverability of a fighter. The XA-41 was conceived in response to a November 1942 contract for a single-seat low altitude combination attack, dive bomber and torpedo plane. To have enough power to carry the heavy bombload with performance to spare, the prototype was designed around the new Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-9, a massive 28-cylinder radial engine with 3000 horsepower. Performance proved to be more than adequate, and the XA-41 was described as a delightful aircraft to fly, while also proving to be a very stable gun platform. It bested its competitors in a number of tests that were performed in 1944, but could not live up to the ideal of being a bomber that could dogfight like a fighter. It was not realized until after the project was canceled that there was no need for such a requirement in the ideal attack aircraft. The sole example of the XA-41 served out its days as a testbed at the Pratt & Whitney plant until it was scrapped in 1950. Later in the war an aircraft with similar abilities was designed and developed to the same general concept. This new aircraft by the Douglas company would become known as the A-1 Skyraider, which would serve with distinction in the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Meanwhile, the XA-41, which could have been a great aircraft for the USAF, faded into obscurity. (information source: "The Last Attack" by Walt Boyne, published in the May 1971 "Air Classics" magazine.)
For more data on this aircraft, click
here for Joe Baugher's
USAF archives on this aircraft, click here.
Additional information on this aircraft can be found at Wikipedia here.
(updated February 2009)
Type: two-seat dive bomber Crew: 2 Armament: four 37mm M-9 cannons in wings four 0.50 cal machine guns in wings up to 6,400 lbs. of bombs Specifications: Length: 48' 8" Height: N/A Wingspan: N/A Wing area: 544 sq. feet Empty Weight: 13,336 lbs. Max Weight: 24,200 lbs. Propulsion: No. of Engines: 1 Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-9 28 cyl. radial Horsepower: 3000 hp Performance: Range: 950 miles Cruise Speed: 270 mph Max Speed: 363 mph at 15,500 feet Ceiling: N/A (NOTE: If you have additional data on this aircraft, please email me)
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