Retromechanix' Lockheed Model L-200 Convoy Fighter Part 1


Jared A. Zichek






Scott Van Aken

Notes: 76 pages, 8 x11 inches, softbound.
ISBN: 978-0-9968754-4-8

During the last years of WWII and into the 1950s, the pace of aviation development was staggering. Advances were coming so quickly that what was top of the line one year, was nearing obsolescence just a few years later. It was also a time of innovation where the military was not afraid to try something new and designers were more than happy to stretch their abilities as well.

Such was the case of the Convoy Fighter. This was a plan to allow ships in a convoy to carry a plane or two for self protection against enemy bombers without the requirement for a large and expensive aircraft carrier. The specifications called for a turboprop powered aircraft that could land and take off vertically without the need for complex handling apparatus. It should also be able to operate from a ship that was moving and so had to be able to handle not only fore and aft movement but also side to side motion. These are the motions that make most first time voyagers sea-sick.

Proposals were submitted by several companies and two were chosen. These became the Convair XFY-1 and the Lockheed XFV-1. Both of these planes flew, though only the Convair entry was able to take off and land vertically. The main issue was the lack of power from available turboprop engines and the difficulty of landing. 

Had these proposals actually been able to overcome their difficulties, it is conceivable that not only would these have made great close infantry support aircraft, but would have been able to defend against the perceived threats of the day. In some way, the modern Marine attack helicopter is performing exactly the missions for which this aircraft was initially conceived.

In this book, the author provides the first volume on Lockheed's L-100 design which eventually became the XFV-1 'Salmon'. Lockheed put a great deal of effort into producing a ready to go prototype that could quickly become a production aircraft. In volume one, the development and early design work on the aircraft is covered, including the specifications for the aircraft, some very in-depth drawings and blueprints, the building of cockpit mock-ups and the overall look of the aircraft.

The cockpit of these planes is especially interesting as it had to be so designed that the pilot could maintain complete control in the transition from vertical to level flight and vice versa. In Lockheed's design, the entire cockpit section inside the airframe was designed to rotate 45 degrees. This provided the optimum comfort in terms of the pilot's abilities to control the aircraft and to see where he was going. The aircraft was to be equipped with small extendable spikes on the gear legs mounted in the fins that would hook into a mesh on the deck. A ground handling apparatus would then grab the plane and return it to the horizontal so the pilot could egress the plane and so that maintenance could be more easily performed.

There is, of course, a lot more to the book that what I've stated, but that should whet your appetite enough to order a copy.

July 2017

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