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Brewster XA-32

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Brewster XA-32

XA-32
Brewster XA-32 during testing c. 1943 (U.S. Air Force photo)
Role Single seat attack aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Brewster Aeronautical Corporation
First flight 22 May 1943
Retired 1944
Status Experimental
Primary user United States Army Air Corps (intended)
Number built 2

The Brewster XA-32 was an American attack aircraft, a mid-wing type with an internal bomb bay. The prototype had the R-2800 engine, but it could take the intended R-4360 powerplant. After a dismal set of test results, the XA-32 did not enter production.

Design and development

Brewster Aeronautical Corporation had startled the world when its rotund Buffalo won the first Navy monoplane fighter competition in favour over Grumman's entry. The company continued to design and produce lacklustre aircraft, and the XA-32, despite a sound layout, became a compendium of management-induced faults. Missing production deadline dates and constant changes to the design jeopardized a promising design (at least on paper).

Initially designed in 1941, the XA-32 was grossly overweight, at almost 20,000 lb (9,100 kg), similar to the Douglas A-20 Havoc. The drag induced by its bulbous shape was amplified by careless detail design, which left it festooned with bumps and lumps. One disastrous characteristic was that the exhaust scoops that ringed the cowling nearly blinded the test pilots during night flying; the backfiring at low power settings resulted in flames engulfing the nose of the aircraft. Even with the 2,100 hp (1,600 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-2800, the XA-32 was underpowered and an attempt to re-engine the aircraft with the 3,000 hp (2,200 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major was unsuccessful.

Testing

The first flight of the XA-32 prototype was not until May 22 1943, two years after the design was proposed; and almost every aspect of performance fell short of the specifications. Devoid of weapons load, the XA-32 could only reach 279 mph (242 kn; 449 km/h) and although handling was adequate, as soon as armament and external stores were added, the performance dropped drastically and more seriously, the disturbed airflow "set up severe buffeting at its top speed."[1] The firm was in such management shambles that it drew the wrath of Congress and actually went out of the aircraft manufacturing business following the debacle of the XA-32.

Only two examples were built, the XA-32 (S/N 42-13568) and XA-32A ( S/N 42-13569), both of which were scrapped at the conclusion of flight testing.

Specifications (XA-32)

Data from [2]

General characteristics

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 311 mph (501 km/h; 270 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 196 mph (170 kn; 315 km/h)
  • Combat range: 500 mi (434 nmi; 805 km)
  • Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,925 m)
Armament
  • Guns: 8 x .50-cal. machine guns or 4 x 37mm gun [3]
  • Bombs: 1,000 pounds (450 kg) in an internal fuselage bomb bay and 2,000 pounds (910 kg) underwing

References

Notes

  1. ^ McCullough 1995, p. 18.
  2. ^ "Factsheets: XA-32." National Museum of the United States Air Force, 31 December 2008. Retrieved: 14 August 2011.
  3. ^ aéro-journal N°23

Bibliography

  • McCullough, Anson. "Grind 'Em Out Ground Attack: The Search for the Elusive Fighter Bomber." Wings, Vol. 25, No. 4, August 1995.

External links

  • Dave's War Birds - Brewster XA-32
  • USAF National Museum - Brewster XA-32
  • USAF National Museum - Brewster XA-32A
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