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Bell D-188

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XF-109 / XF3L
XF-109 mockup with engine pods rotated for vertical flight.
Type VTOL fighter
Manufacturer Bell Aircraft Corporation
Status Cancelled 1961
Primary users United States Air Force
United States Navy
Number built 1 mockup

The Bell XF-109/XF3L was a proposed eight-engine Mach 2-capable vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) fighter that never proceeded past the mock-up stage.


In 1953, Bell developed a VTOL research aircraft, the Model 65 ATV, with a pair of turbojets mounted one each side of the fuselage that could pivot between horizontal and vertical positions. The ATV program ended in 1955 and led to the United States Air Force and United States Navy sponsorship of the D-188A VTOL tilting-jets fighter, designated XF-109 by the USAF and XF3L-1 by the Navy. Bell was requested to design an aircraft in the same weight class as the F-104 Starfighter. In addition to VTOL capability, the aircraft was requested to have a top speed of Mach 2. To achieve this, the XF-109 was powered by eight jet engines: two positioned vertically behind the cockpit for vertical flight only, two mounted horizontally in the tail for horizontal flight only, and two pairs located in pods at the tips of the wings that rotated to provide thrust in both flight regimes. In 1960, the Navy withdrew its funding due to ongoing delays with the engines. Subsequently, the Air Force also lost interest in the concept, resulting in cancellation of the program at the mockup stage in 1961.

Specifications (XF-109, as designed)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 62 ft 0 in (18.90 m)
  • Wingspan: 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m)
  • Height: 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m)
  • Wing area: ft² (m²)
  • Empty weight: lb (kg)
  • Loaded weight: 23,917 lb (10,849 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric J85-GE-5 turbojets, 2,600 lbf (11.6 kN) each



  • Guns:20 mm (0.787 in) cannon
  • Rockets: 108× 2.75 in (70 mm) rockets
  • Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,800 kg)

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