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Warbird Picture - XFT-2

Northrop XFT Aircraft Information

Northrop XFT


Warbird Picture - XFT-2

Picture - XFT-2

Role: Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer: Northrop Corporation
First flight: 16 January 1934
Number built: 1
Developed from: Northrop Delta
Variants: Northrop 3A

The Northrop XFT was an American prototype fighter aircraft of the 1930s. A single engined low winged monoplane, it was designed and built to meet a United States Navy order for an advanced carrier based fighter. It exhibited poor handling, and was rejected by the Navy, the single prototype being lost in a crash.

Development and design

In the early 1930s, the United States Navy was interested in investigating the use of modern, monoplanes as fighter aircraft to replace the biplanes that equipped its fighter squadrons. In December 1932, it ordered the XF7B from Boeing, and based on the impressive performance of Northrop's Gamma and Delta, both stressed skin monoplanes, placed an order with Northrop on 8 May 1933 for a single prototype fighter, designated XFT-1.

The resulting aircraft, which was designed by a team led by Ed Heinemann resembled a scaled down Northrop Delta. It was a low winged monoplane, of all-metal stressed skin construction. It had a fixed tailwheel undercarriage with its main gear fitted with streamlining trouser fairings. The pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit with a sliding canopy. It was powered by a single Wright R-1510 radial engine.

The XFT-1 first flew on 16 January 1934, being delivered to NAS Anacostia for evaluation by the Navy. While it was the fastest fighter yet tested by the US Navy, its handling characteristics were poor. Although it was fitted with flaps to lower its landing speed, it was difficult to control at low speeds, and had poor forward visibility, major problems for an aircraft intended to operate off aircraft carriers. Its most serious problem, however, was its behaviour when spinning, where the tail was subject to severe buffeting. It was fitted with a more powerful R-1510 engine in August 1934, but this did not improve matters, and it was returned to Northrop for more major modifications, being fitted with larger tail surfaces and a Pratt & Whitney R-1535 Twin Wasp Junior radial engine, being redesignated XFT-2.

The XFT-2 was redelivered to Anacostia in April 1936, where it was found that while its performance had only slightly improved, its handling was even poorer than before, and it was rejected by the US Navy as unairworthy. It was ordered to be returned to Northrop, and ignoring instructions to ship the aircraft back to Northrop's El Segundo factory, a test pilot attempted to fly the XFT-2 back to California, the aircraft entering a spin and crashing when crossing the Allegheny Mountains on 21 July 1936.

The design formed the basis of the Northrop 3A fighter with retractable undercarriage, which was another failure, and was also lost during testing.

Specifications (XFT-1)

Data from McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920

General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 21 ft 11 in (6.68 m)
Wingspan: 32 ft 0 in (9.75 m)
Height: 9 ft 5 in (2.87 m)
Wing area: 177 ft (16.4 m)
Empty weight: 2,489 lb (1,120 kg)
Loaded weight: 3,756 lb (1,704 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 4,003 lb (1,816 kg)
Powerplant: 1x Wright R-1510-26 14-cylinder air cooled radial engine, 625 hp (466 kW)


Maximum speed: 235 mph (204 kn, 378 km/h) at 6,000 ft (1,380 m)
Range: 976 mi (849 nmi, 1,570 km)
Service ceiling: 26,500 ft (8,075 m)
Wing loading: lb/ft (kg/m)
Power/mass: hp/lb (W/kg)
Climb to 6,000 ft (1,830 m): 2.6 minutes


Guns: 2 x .30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine gun
Bombs: 2 x 116 lb (53 kg) bombs

Related development

Northrop Delta
Northrop 3A

Comparable aircraft

Boeing XF7B

Francillion, Ren J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London:Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
Green, William and Swanborough, Gordon. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York: Smithmark, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.

Living Warbirds: The best warbirds DVD series.

Source: WikiPedia

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