|Maiden flight||7 May 1944|
|Primary user||U.S. Army Air Force|
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 7 May, 1944 but after testing it became obvious it would not be ready for the projected 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.
Design and development
The USAAF awarded the Beech Aircraft Corporation a contract in December 1942 for two prototypes for their Model 28 "Destroyer." 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.
On 7 May 1944, Beech Test Pilot Vern Carstens flew the XA-38 on its maiden flight from the company's Wichita airfield. 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. During testing, the XA-38 prototypes were flown by US Army pilots and serviced by military personnel, proving to be reliable and establishing a high level of serviceability. Instead, one prototype was scrapped and the other, intended for the USAF Museum, had an unknown fate.
- Crew: 2
- 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 weight: 22,480 lb (10,197 kg)
- Loaded weight: lb (kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 32,000 lb (14,515 kg)
- Maximum speed: 376 mph (605 km/h)
- Range: miles (km)
- Service ceiling: 27,800 ft (8,500 m)
- Rate of climb: ft/min (m/s)
- Wing loading: lb/ft² (kg/m²)
- 1 x T15E1 75 mm cannon (20 rounds)
- 6 x Browning .50 calbre (12.7 mm) machine guns (2 forward-facing, 2 in ventral turret, 2 in dorsal turret)
- 2000 lb (907 kg) of external stores
- Trimble 1983, p. 24.
- Trimble, Robert L. "Beech Grizzly." Air Classics, Vol. 9, no. 7, August 1983.
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