The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket was a twin engined single seat naval fighter that only reached the prototype stage.
The design originated as the Grumman G-34, an unusual design for a twin engine, single seat monoplane carrier fighter, which was suggested in 1938 at a time when the most modern naval fighters in US service were all biplanes. The G-34 had an unusual layout, with the leading edge of the wing in front of the tip of the fuselage. It was powered by two Wright R-1820 Cyclone engines, mounted in short nacelles jutting out of the front of the wing, starting almost in front of the fuselage. The tail was mounted on top of the fuselage, with twin fins and rudders on the end. It had a fully retractable undercarriage, with the main wheels retracting back into the engine nacelles and a tail wheel.
The Navy placed an order for a single prototype, the XF5F-1, on 30 June 1938. It took some time to build the aircraft and it didn’t make its maiden flight until 1 April 1940.
After a series of trials in its original configuration the prototype was modified, with the fuselage being extended forward so it finished in front of the wing. In 1938 its performance figures would have been very impressive, with a top speed of 383mph, but by 1940 it was being outclassed by newer single engine monoplanes, so no production orders were placed. However it remained in use until December 1944 and helped with the development of the twin engine Grumman F7F. The aircraft was then damaged in a crash on 12 December 1944 and the project ended.
The Air Force was also interested in the design, but their prototype, the XP-50, didn’t make its maiden flight until 1941 and was lost on 14 May 1941, and also failed to enter production.
Engine: Two Wright XR-1820-40/ -42 Cyclone 9-cylinder radial piston engines
Power: 1,200hp each
Span: 42ft 0in
Length: 28ft 8.5in
Height: 11ft 4in
Empty weight: 8,107lb
Maximum take-off weight: 10,138lb
Max speed: 383mph
Cruising speed: 210mph
Service ceiling: 33,000ft
Range: 1,200 miles
Armament: Two 23mm Madsen cannon