|Artist's conception of the F6D-1 Missileer in flight.|
|Type||Fleet defense fighter|
|Manufacturer||Douglas Aircraft Company|
|Status||Canceled December 1960|
|Primary user||United States Navy|
|Developed from||F3D Skyknight|
The F6D-1 would have weighed approximately 50,000 pounds (22,650 kg) and been powered by two Pratt & Whitney TF30-P2 non-afterburning turbofan engines optimized for fuel efficiency rather than speed. It would have had subsonic performance, but a loiter time of six hours on station 150 nm from its carrier. Of conventional design with straight wings, and the engines in pods at the root, it looked much like a larger version of the company's earlier F3D Skyknight (and has a similar configuration to more modern strike aircraft such as the Sukhoi Su-25 'Frogfoot' and Northrop A-9). The Missileer's radar was to be the Westinghouse AN/APQ-81 pulse Doppler set, with a range of 120 nm (220 km) and "track while scan" capability. It was to be able to engage up to six targets simultaneously with Bendix AAM-N-10 Eagle air-to-air missiles, with a range of 100 nm (185 km). The Eagle was to have a choice of conventional or nuclear warhead.
The Navy quickly developed doubts about the slow "missile truck" concept. The F6D-1 would have been helpless after launching its missiles, lacking defensive armament, speed, or maneuverability to defend itself, and despite its cost it was useless for any role other than air defense. It was cancelled in December 1960. The Navy was eventually forced to participate in the TFX joint-services program that resulted in the General Dynamics F-111B, and after the F-111B proved a non-starter, later launched the VFX program that produced the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The failure of the F6D signaled a decade of troubles for Douglas, with lessening profits from both military and civilian aircraft, and it merged with rival McDonnell in 1967, forming McDonnell Douglas.
The Eagle missile was also cancelled, but after strenuous objections by the Navy, the technology was transferred to Hughes Aircraft for the AIM-54 Phoenix missile. The F6D-1's missile and radar technologies were both later used, in evolved form, in the Grumman F-14. However, the Phoenix, despite its advanced capabilities, would ultimately never be confirmed as shooting down any aircraft in its intended role.
Specifications (F6D-1, as designed)
- Crew: 3
- Length: 51 ft 2 in (15.60 m)
- Wingspan: 58 ft 5 in (17.80 m)
- Height: 17 ft 7 in (5.20 m)
- Max takeoff weight: 50,000 lb (23,000 kg)
- Powerplant: 2× Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-2 turbofans, 10,200 lbf (45.5 kN) each
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