Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
|Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly|
|Length||51 ft 9 in||15.8 m|
|Wingspan||67 ft 4 in||20.5 m|
|Height||13 ft 6 in||4.1 m|
|Wing area||626 ft²||58 m²|
|Empty||22,480 lb||10,197 kg|
|Maximum takeoff||32,000 lb||14,515 kg|
|Engines||2 × Wright R-3350-53 radial|
|Power (each)||2700 hp||2,013 kW|
|Maximum speed||376 mph||605 km/h|
|Combat range||1070 miles||1,722 km|
|Service ceiling||27,800 ft||8,500 m|
|Rate of climb||ft/min||m/min|
|Guns||1 × T15E1 75 mm cannon (20 rounds)|
6 × Browning .50 calbre (12.7 mm) machine guns (2 forward-facing, 2 in ventral turret, 2 in dorsal turret)
|Bombs||2000 lb (907 kg) of external stores|
|Rockets||could be fitted|
The Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly was a heavily armed ground attack plane prototype, fitted with a forward-firing 75 mm cannon to attack heavily armored targets. It flew on May 7, 1944 but after testing it became obvious it would not be ready for the projected Operation Downfall invasion of Japan, and furthermore it used engines required by the B-29 Superfortress which had priority. It was thus cancelled, and remains a fascinating might-have-been.
The USAAF awarded the Beech Aircraft Corporation a contract in December 1942 for two prototypes. The requirement was for a powerful ground attack aircraft to replace the Douglas A-20 Havoc, with the ability to hit "hardened" targets like tanks and bunkers. This capability was achieved through the cannon with 20 rounds, mounted in a fixed position on the nose (very visible in photographs) as well as two .50 caliber (12.7 mm) machine guns firing forward. Defensive armament consisted of remotely-controlled ventral and dorsal turrets, each armed with twin .50 calibers (12.7 mm). There were to be two crew members, a pilot and an observer/gunner in the rear cabin, using periscope sights to aim the guns.
The aircraft proved satisfactory in all respects and better than expected in some, including top speed. The armament proved effective and had it not been for the stage of the war by then, the aircraft would most likely have been ordered in quantity, although the B-29 had priority for the Wright R-3350 engines. Instead, one prototype was scrapped and the other, intended for the USAF Museum, had an unknown fate.
A-35 - A-36 - A-37 - XA-38 - A-39 - A-40 - A-41
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