Jared Zichek has recently published his second study of the designs submitted for the 1950 US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics specification for a VTOL convoy defence fighter. Five companies submitted proposals, of which two eventually reached the prototype stage as the Covair XFY-1 Pogo and the Lockheed XFV-1 Salmon, leaving the losing designs almost forgotten. While they may not have progressed beyond the paper proposals, the unsuccessful submissions are equally worthy of examination, and Jared is doing a great service by giving them a moment in the limelight once more.
The 48-page study is available in two forms - as a softbound book for £11.99, or a Kindle edition for just £4.49. The content is identical, being beautifully produced in a fitting “retro” style, with the colours and typography perfectly matching the original period artwork of Martin’s original design brochure.
Martin took a radically different approach to Goodyear’s, whose GA-28 was covered in the first volume. The Martin design team would probably be described as “thinking outside the box” in today’s parlance, for they went beyond the competing companies and envisaged a combined aircraft and launch/landing system that dispensed with the need for a conventional landing gear and would, in theory, make operations on a pitching deck much simpler.
The key was a stabilised vertical platform that cradled the aircraft and remained steady, no matter how the ship’s deck was tossed by the waves. This meant the aircraft was kept stable for take-off, and even more crucially, it provided a semi-fixed target at which the pilot could aim during the landing approach. Perched somewhat precariously at the top of the platform was a landing officer to guide the pilot in to touchdown.
The Model 262 was an attractive swept-wing design, powered by a jet turbine driving twin conta-props in the nose, behind a large “spinner” that house a radar scanner. Taking off vertically, the ‘262 was expected to achieve close to the speed of sound at 45,000ft and would have been armed with 4 x 20mm cannon, 5” or 2.75” air-to-air rockets, or a pair of Sparrow guided missiles.
On its return to its mother ship, the aircraft would transition into a vertical hover and extend a large retractable prong in its belly, which opened a viewing port for the pilot to see through the cockpit “floor” to the ship. It would then descend slowly towards a 10x10ft section of the stabilised platform where the prong locked into a system of vanes and arrestor wires, allowing the machine to come to rest, finally being lowered to the deck as the landing platform was folded down to the horizontal position.
Considering the difficulties faced flying the Pogo and Salmon that were actually built, the Martin designers should perhaps be applauded for openly admitting that a number of factors were so uncertain, the final configuration of the ‘262 could not be decided upon without extensive air-tunnel testing. To this end, they submitted three completely different potential further designs, which they called Modifications:
Modification A - a mid-wing delta with twin contra-props in the nose
Modification B - a high-wing delta with the contra-props mid-fuselage
Modification C - a swept-wing aircraft with the contra-props in the tail and the pilot lying prone
The author suggests this honesty may be part of the reason for Martin’s proposal not being selected, because the three radically different configurations would have indicated indecision and lack of confidence on the part of the designers. Similarly the inclusion in the brochure of an alternative recovery method using cables to tow the aircraft down almost like a kite would only serve to plant doubts over the rather ingenious stabilised landing platform.
Obviously, this being a “paper project” that never lead to an actual prototype, there are no photos to use as modelling references, but it’s remarkable just how many original maker’s drawings have survived. So, the book is packed with plans and cutaway drawings of each of the designs and the launch/landing system, and these contain ample detail to scratch-build models.
It all adds up to a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Being based on Martin’s original design brochures, it is necessarily quite technical, but Jared has done a fine job again in making it accessible to the layman. So much so, in fact, that I found it soon set my imagination racing and I started dreaming-up my own alternative recovery system for the Model 262!
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Highs: A fascinating subject, covered in excellent detail. Masses of reference material for a detailed scratch-built model.Lows: None that I've found.Verdict: This is another excellent value title from Jared Zichek that will appeal to modellers and naval aviation enthusiasts alike.
About Rowan Baylis (Merlin) FROM: NO REGIONAL SELECTED, UNITED KINGDOM
I've been modelling for about 40 years, on and off. While I'm happy to build anything, my interests lie primarily in 1/48 scale aircraft. I mostly concentrate on WW2 subjects, although I'm also interested in WW1, Golden Age aviation and the early Jet Age - and have even been known to build the occas...