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|Status||Cancelled in 1950|
The Vought F6U Pirate was the company's first jet fighter. A specification was issued by the US Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics ("BuAer") for a single-seat carrier-based fighter powered by a Westinghouse "24C" (later "J34") turbojet, on 5 September 1944. In December of that year, Chance Vought was awarded a contract for three prototypes, with the initial "XF6U-1" prototype flying on 2 October 1946.
The Pirate was an uninspired design, with the intakes slung under the wing roots, exhaust in the tail, fitted with straight wings and tail surfaces, plus optional wingtip tanks. The aircraft featured unusual construction techniques, including "Metalite" skinning of balsa, sandwiched between two thin sheets of aluminum, and "Fabrilite" skinning of balsa, sandwiched between sheets of fiberglass for the vertical tail and air intake. While not quite as conservative in design as the Ryan FR Fireball (which included a propellor and piston engine for takeoff and landing, and only used its jet for high-speed cruising), it was still very much a piston-engined aircraft given an underpowered jet.
The first XF6U-1 prototype was powered by a Westinghouse J34-WE-22 turbojet with 3,000 pounds (13.34 kN) thrust, one third of the weight of the aircraft. Therefore the prototype was seriously underpowered. To help improve the aircraft's performance, the third prototype, which first flew on 10 November 1947, was fitted with a Westinghouse J34-WE-30 afterburning engine of 4,224 lbf (18.78 kN) thrust, the first US Navy fighter to have such a powerplant.
The first production F6U-1 performed its initial flight on 5 March 1949, and 30 of the aircraft were provided to a Navy operational evaluation squadron. The judgement from the evaluation was that the Pirate was unacceptably unimpressive.
On 30 October 1950, BuAer informed Vought of the Navy's opinion of the Pirate in terms both bureaucratic and scathing: "The F6U-1 had proven so sub-marginal in performance that combat utilization is not feasible."
- XF6U-1 - Three prototypes.
- F6U-1 - The initial production version. (29 built)
- F6U-1P - Photo-reconnaissance version. (1 built)
- Crew: 1
- Length: 37 ft 7 in (11.46 m)
- Wingspan: 32 ft 10 in (10 m)
- Height: 12 ft 11 in (3.39 m)
- Wing area: 203.4 ft² (18.9 m²)
- Empty weight: 7,320 lb (3,320 kg)
- Loaded weight: 12,900 lb (5,850 kg)
- Powerplant: 1× Westinghouse J34-WE-30A turbojet
- Dry thrust: 3,150 lbf (14.0 kN)
- Thrust with afterburner: 4,224 lbf (18.78 kN)
- Maximum speed: 596 mph (517 knots, 959 km/h)
- Range: 1,170 mi (1,020 nm, 1,880 km)
- Service ceiling: 46,260 ft (14,100 m)
- Wing loading: 63.4 lb/ft² (304 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.327
- Guns: 4× 20 mm (0.787 in) M3 cannon under the nose
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