The Boeing XF8B was a multi-purpose fighter and attack aircraft developed in response to a US Navy specification issued in 1943. It was far more advanced than the last generation of Boeing fighter aircraft, which had appeared in the mid 1930s (Boeing YP-29 for the USAAC, Boeing XF7B for the US Navy).
The XF8B-1 (Boeing Model 400) was designed to serve as a fighter, interceptor, long range escort fighter, fighter-bomber and torpedo-bomber. Boeing was awarded a contract to produce three prototypes on 4 May 1943, and the first of three made its maiden flight on 27 November 1944.
The XF8B was a fairly typical aircraft of its period. It was powered by a four-row Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-10 radial engine, powering a six-bladed contra-rotating propeller. The low mounted wings were straight edged but tapered. The cockpit was mounted above the rear half of the wing. It had a two-part canopy that visually resembled a bubble canopy. As with most fighters of the period there was no fairing behind the canopy, so the pilot had a good all-round view. The XF8B could carry six wing mounted guns, either 0.5in machine guns or 20mm cannon. It had an internal bomb bay capable of carrying two 1,600lb bombs and could carry another 3,200lb of bombs outside the bomb bay. The XF8B was the heaviest carrier-based aircraft to be produced during the Second World War.
The first prototype made its maiden flight on 27 November 1944. It was vastly more powerful than its immediate Boeing predecessor, the XF7B, with a top speed almost 200mph higher than that aircraft. Although the XF8B-1 was an impressive aircraft it appeared too late in the Second World War to be considered for production. The last two prototypes were completed after the war, but the project then ended.
Engine: Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-10 28-cylinder four-row radial with contra-rotating propeller
Span: 54ft 0in
Length: 43ft 3in
Height: 16ft 3in
Empty Weight: 14,190lb
Normal Weight: 20,508lb
Maximum Speed: 340mph at sea level, 432mph at 26,900ft
Cruising Speed: 190mph
Climb rate: 3,660ft/ min
Range: 1,305 miles
Guns: Six 0.5in machine guns or six 20mm cannon in wings
Bomb load: 6,400lb including two 1,600lb bombs in internal bomb bay