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"What If" Northrop FT-2 profile | by Reedworks
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"What If" Northrop FT-2 profile

A "What If" profile of a production Northrop FT-2 in VF-72 markings


IN THE REAL WORLD: Although the US Navy would not operate monoplane fighters until the first F2A Buffalos requipped VF-3 aboard USS Saratoga in December 1939, it had been interested in this class of aircraft for some time prior, and in late 1932 ordered prototypes from Boeing (the XF7B, a navalized P-29) and from Northrop, the XFT-1, a Wright R-1510 -powered design that owed much to the company's work on the Delta and Gamma monoplane transports. The XFT-1 was the first fighter from designer Ed Heinemann, who would go on to find much success with Douglas, but this initial foray would be far less successful than its illustrious descendants.


First flown in January 1934, the XFT-1 would prove to be fastest USN fighter of its day, but had poor low speed controllability and buffeted badly when spun. The prototype was reworked with a larger tail and R-1535 engine as the XFT-2, but this configuration proved even worse, and the Navy actually deemed the aircraft unairworthy. Despite instructions to ship the aircraft back to California from Anacostia, an attempt was made to fly it back, ending in a crash in the Allegheny Mountain range.


This did not mean an immediate end to the design, as it formed the basis for the Northrop 3A land-based fighter, with retractable landing gear. This was proposed as a P-26 replacement, but USAAC testing showed that the aircraft still tended to spin. The prototype was lost without a trace over the Pacific in July 1935.


This ended Northrop's involvement with the project, but amazingly the design was to cling to life, being sold to Vought, which used it as the basis for the V-141 prototype. This was put forward to meet the P-26 replacement need, but still proved susceptible to spinning, and there would be no US orders.


Vought tried to sell the V-143 with a larger tail to export customers, but there were no takers. Aftrr the aircraft was stretched, given a new tail and uprated engine, there were still no customers, and Vought disposed of the V-143 by selling it to Japan as the AXV1. Predictably, the Japanese found no more use for the design than any others, and the program finally died an overdue death.


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Uploaded on November 24, 2019