FR Fireball file photo [16500]

FR Fireball

CountryUnited States
ManufacturerRyan Aeronautical Company
Primary RoleJet Fighter
Maiden Flight25 June 1944

Contributor:

ww2dbaseIn 1943, US Navy admiral John S. McCain, Sr. began a program for naval piston-jet mixed-powered fighters, and Ryan Aeronautical soon received the contract to build three prototype aircraft. In Dec 1943, before the first prototype aircraft took flight, the contract was expanded to 100 examples. The first two prototype aircraft were delivered in Apr 1944. The first piston-powered flight took place on 25 Jun 1944; in fact, this first prototype only had its nose-mounted piston engine installed, while the space behind the pilot in the fuselage, where the jet engine was supposed to be installed, was empty. Stability problems caused by mis-calculated center of gravity, however, thus enlarged vertical and horizontal stabilizers were designed and retrofitted to the prototype aircraft. Carrier suitability testing began in Jan 1945, and it was generally successful, though some small tweaks were made to the design as the result. By the spring of 1945, all three prototype aircraft were destroyed in separate crashes; the first two were victims of weak wing structure, while the third crashed after its canopy blew off during flight. In Mar 1945, the US Navy squadron VF-66 was equipped with its first batch of FR Fireball fighters, and in May the pilots qualified for carrier operations. By the time they were readied for combat, WW2 had come to an end. The squadron was decommissioned in Oct 1945, and the aircraft were transferred to squadron VF-41. On 6 Nov 1945, while attempting to make a landing aboard escort carrier USS Wake Island, a FR Fireball fighter's piston engine failed, thus forcing the pilot to use jet power in the landing process, the first landing of its kind in history. Production ended in 1945; a total of 71 aircraft, including the three prototype fighters, were built. Experience between 1946 and 1947 showed that FR Fireball fighters were too fragile to endure repeated carrier landings, thus they were withdrawn from service in Aug 1947. The aircraft ultimately proved to lack the structural strength required for operations aboard aircraft carriers and was withdrawn in mid-1947. Most of these aircraft, US Navy's first using jet-power, were scrapped shortly afterwards.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

FR Fireball Timeline

11 Feb 1943 Ryan Aeronautical received a US Navy contract to build three piston-jet mix-powered prototype fighters.
2 Dec 1943 The US Navy expanded the piston-jet mix-powered fighter contract with Ryan Aeronautical to 100 examples.
25 Jun 1944 The FR Fireball piston-jet mix-powered fighter took its first flight with only the piston engine equipped.
20 Sep 1944 The FR Fireball fighter took its first piston-jet mix-powered flight.
13 Oct 1944 The first FR Fireball prototype aircraft was destroyed in a crash at Naval Air Station China Lake, California, United States.
31 Jan 1945 The US Navy expanded the piston-jet mix-powered fighter contract with Ryan Aeronautical to 700 examples.
25 Mar 1945 The second FR Fireball prototype aircraft was destroyed in a crash.
5 Apr 1945 The third FR Fireball prototype aircraft was destroyed in a crash over Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, United States.
1 May 1945 Pilots of US Navy squadron VF-66, flying FR Fireball piston-jet mix-powered fighters, flew qualifying missions from USS Ranger; two aircraft were damaged while landing.
18 Oct 1945 US Navy squadron VF-66, flying FR Fireball piston-jet mix-powered fighters, was decommissioned before ever seeing combat.
6 Nov 1945 A FR Fireball piston-jet mix-powered fighter became the first aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier (USS Wake Island) while using jet power.
1 Aug 1947 FR Fireball piston-jet mix-powered fighters were withdrawn from service by the US Navy.

SPECIFICATIONS

FR-1
MachineryOne General Electric J31-GE-3 turbojet rated at 1,600 lbf; one Wright R-1820-72W Cyclone radial engine rated at 1,350 hp
Armament4x12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns, 2x454kg bombs, 8x127mm rockets
Crew1
Span12.19 m
Length12.19 m
Height4.24 m
Wing Area25.60 m
Weight, Empty3,488 kg
Weight, Loaded5,285 kg
Speed, Maximum650 km/h
Speed, Cruising246 km/h
Rate of Climb9.00 m/s
Service Ceiling13,137 m
Range, Maximum2,610 km

Photographs

FR-1 Fireball fighter in flight, 1945, seen in Dec 1945 issue of US Navy publication Naval Aviation News; note HVAR rockets under wingsFR-1 Fireball fighter of US Navy squadron VF-66 at rest, Naval Air Station North Island, California, United States, 1945FR-1 Fireball fighter of US Navy squadron VF-66 in flight, 1945FR-1 Fireball fighters of US Navy squadron VF-66 at rest, Naval Air Station North Island, California, United States, 1945
See all 16 photographs of FR Fireball Jet Fighter



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FR Fireball Jet Fighter Photo Gallery
FR-1 Fireball fighter in flight, 1945, seen in Dec 1945 issue of US Navy publication Naval Aviation News; note HVAR rockets under wings
See all 16 photographs of FR Fireball Jet Fighter




Famous WW2 Quote
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You win the war by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country!"

George Patton, 31 May 1944