Friday, March 4, 2011

Impractical Military Vehicle of the Week: the Convair XFY "Pogo"

The year was 1951 and those sneaky Russkies were going to attack any minute.  In order to keep ships safe at sea, the US Navy decided they needed to have fighter planes that could be close at hand whether there was an aircraft carrier nearby or not.  The solution: the Convair XFY "Pogo":

It doesn't look like much of anything unusual until you realize that that picture's sideways.  Here's one of them parked on the tarmac:

That's right.  It was a vertical take-off and landing fighter plane that landed on its tail so it could be stored under a little teepee on the deck of even the smallest warship.  It had delta wings and three-bladed contra-rotating propellers powered by a 5,500 hp Allison YT40-A-16 turboprop engine.

The idea was to have a high-performance fighter aircraft capable of operating from small warships. They could take off on short notice by cranking up the throttle and rising straight into the air.  Then the pilot would level out and head off to engage the enemy fighters. 

I suppose the plan was for this funny little plane to then get blown out of the sky because there was almost nobody in the world who could land the damned thing.  On the way down, the pilot had to look over his shoulder while carefully working the controls while approaching the pitching and rolling deck of a small warship at sea.

In the end the prototype was deemed to be plenty fast and maneuverable, but it had problems slowing down and stopping due to inadequate control surfaces and air brakes.  The Navy also decided it didn't have enough single-use fighter pilots.


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