Retromechanix' Convair Class VF Convoy Fighter


Jared A. Zichek






Scott Van Aken

Notes: 40 pages, 8 x11 inches, softbound.
ISBN: 978-0-9968754-3-1

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. Interestingly, it was envisioned that the aircraft would have a cable deploy from the underside of the rear of the aircraft and a brave handler would hook this to a retraction system that would help pull the aircraft to the deck.

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 covers every known aspect of the development of the Convair XFY-1 project including a wealth of engineering drawings of the aircraft in question along with the original and updated brochures offered by Convair to the Army as a possible recce platform. There are also artists impressions of these aircraft as well as full color profiles of what might have been. It makes for a fascinating look into what many consider an unusual, but dead end project.

April 2017

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