Retromechanix' Martin Model 262 Convoy Fighter


Jared A. Zichek






Scott Van Aken

Notes: 48 pages, 8 x11 inches, softbound.
ISBN: 978-0-9968754-0-0

This is Jared A. Zichek's second volume covering the Navy's proposal during the late 1940s and early 1950s that led to the Convair XFV-1 and Lockheed's XFY-1 VTO fighter prototypes. 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 as noted in the opening. However, only one of those was able to lift off from the ground vertically, such was the state of turboprops of the era. It wasn't because the aircraft were too heavy as the Convair and Lockheed prototypes were the lightest of the five proposals. It was due to the lack of power from the XT-40 turboprop, an engine that never really was able to meet its full requirements of power and reliability.

This edition is on the Martin Model 262 proposal. This aircraft was the only one of the five that was not initially designed to take off while standing on its tail. Instead, the aircraft would be attached to a large board-like structure on the ship by a long spike that fit into what on a regular plane would be the nose gear bay. This was somewhat similar to the method of launching and recovering the Ryan X-13 Vertijet. The Martin proposal was the only one that had swept wings.

Martin also offered three other options, all of them somewhat different from the initial Model 262. Martin felt that wind tunnel data was needed to determine the proper shape of the project before building a prototype. This would have been done had a contract been signed. For whatever reason (excess weight was stated, but many think that Martin's offering of alternate proposals showed a lack of trust in its initial design), Martin was not offered the contract and the project joined many others in the fog of time.

In this book, the author covers every known aspect of the Model 262 and includes a wealth of engineering drawings of the aircraft in question. The three alternate proposals are also covered in detail as are the various methods of landing and taking off from a ship. There are artists impressions of these aircraft as well as full color profiles of what might have been. It makes for a fascinating look into what might have been and sheds some light on a little known aviation project.

Copyright October 2015

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