Bell YFM-1 Airacuda
1937
Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  FIGHTERVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Bell  

Bell YFM-1 Airacuda

Embodying many innovatory features and designed by Robert J Woods, the FM-1 Airacuda was a five-seat long-range bomber destroyer. Powered by two engines mounted as pushers, the Airacuda accommodated two gunners in forward extensions of the engine nacelles, these crew members being provided with wing crawlways enabling them to gain the fuselage in the event that it proved necessary to evacuate the nacelle gun positions. The prototype, the XFM-1 powered by two 1150hp Allison V-1710-13 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engines driving three-blade propellers via 1.62m extension shafts, was flown on 1 September 1937. Twelve evaluation models were subsequently ordered, nine as YFM-1s and three as YFM-1As which differed in having tricycle undercarriages. Power was provided by 1,150hp Allison V-1710-23s, but three YFM-!s were completed with V-1710-41s of 1,090hp as YFM-1Bs. The 12 YFMs were delivered to the USAAC between February and October 1940, and their armament comprised one 37mm T-9 cannon with 110 rounds in each engine nacelle, one 7.62mm M-2 machine gun with 500 rounds in each of the retractable dorsal turret and ventral tunnel positions, and one 12.7mm M-2 gun firing from each of the port and starboard beam positions. Twenty 13.6kg bombs could be accommodated internally.

Bell YFM-1 Airacuda


Specification 
 MODELYFM-1B
 CREW5
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight8618 kg19000 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan21.33 m70 ft 0 in
    Length14.00 m46 ft 11 in
    Height3.78 m12 ft 5 in
    Wing area55.74 m2599.98 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed431 km/h268 mph
    Range2687 km1670 miles

3-View 
Bell YFM-1 AiracudaA three-view drawing (1160 x 818)

Bell YFM-1 Airacuda

Comments1-20 21-40
bill horsman, pennyhorsman.horsman2=gmail.com, 17.04.2013

Did someone dream this plane up after eating magic mushrooms?

Matthew Kitchen, mattkit.kitchen73=gmail.com, 26.08.2012

A MAJOR piece of junk. Engine problems; bailing-out issues; problems with the APU; the turbocharged carbureted engines had cranky turbo-regulators which caused backfiring; The 37 mm cannons in the engine nacelles filled the entire nacelle with smoke when fired. Absolute piece of crud; although futuristic in design. I thought it was a jet when I first saw it.

Klaatu83, klaatu83=lycos.com, 25.06.2012

"THE EARLIEST STANDARD INSTALLATION OF AN APU THAT I KNEW OF WAS ON THE C-46s, A ONE CYLINDER/TWO STROKE ENG."

The first airplane to have an auxiliary power unit was the gigantic Boeing B-15 bomber, which was ahead of it's time, being too large for any of the engines available at the time.

The Airacuda was an ambitious airplane that was designed to satisfy a concept that was, in itself, flawed. The only reason Larry Bell built this airplane at all was because he felt that the best way to get his new airplane manufacturing company noticed was by building an airplane that nobody else would even attempt to build. The only other company that even tried to design an airplane to meet this specification was Lockheed, and they abandoned their attempt very early in the design stage. Bell was proven right. He may not have won a production contract for the FM-1, but his bizarre airplane became widely publicized all over the country and got his firm noticed.

GAYLORD HALL, GLHALL2=COX.NET, 01.04.2012

I WAS AN INSTRUCTOR AT CHANUTE FIELD WHEN THREE WERE DELIVERED FROM WRIGHT/PAT. THESE WERE QUITE A SIGHT FROM THE B-18s AND MARTIN B-10s WE HAD. I WAS IN THE ENGINE DIVISION AND DO NOT RECALL ANY APU(AUX POWER UNIT). THE EARLIEST STANDARD INSTALLATION OF AN APU THAT I KNEW OF WAS ON THE C-46s, A ONE CYLINDER/TWO STROKE ENG. LOW ELECTRIC POWER WAS A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR ELECTRIC CONTROLLED PROPS. "AIRPOWER" MAGAZINE, SEPT. 1971 HAS A FULL WRITE UP ON THE AIRPLANE. I HAVE FLOWN A 68"/6 POUND ELECTRIC POWERED MODEL OF THIS AIRCRAFT

Rick Lincroft, r.lincroft=njservice.net, 26.01.2012

@ rich sacchetti
Short answer, "No."
By 1942, all nine surviving YFM-1 airframes were flown by ferry crews to a training facility at Chanute Field, Illinois where the aircraft were assigned to the 10th Air Base Squadron to be used for ground crew instruction. By March 1942, all Airacudas were scrapped.

Luther E. Franklin, lufrank=comcast.net, 03.01.2012

The toy version of this airplane (Hubley Mfg. Co. circa 1937) sells for about $400 in excellent condition (eBay).

Luther E. Franklin, lufrank=comcast.net, 03.01.2012

klingon ......
The BV 141 looked unusual, and for that reason, pilots didn't like her...BUT she was reputed to be a good performer.

klingon, ludditetolpuddle=yahoo.co.uk, 20.05.2011

thi has to be the most idiotic aircraft i have ever seen, and i've seen the blohm & voss BV 141!

Klaatu, klaatu83=lycos.com, 10.05.2011

There were a lot of difficulties with this aircraft, not the least of which was, HOW DO THE GUNNERS BAIL OUT IN AN EMERGENCY? Like the other "innovative" pusher aircraft designs of the late '30s and early '40s, this one was built before the invention of ejector seats. The two crew members in the nose risked hitting the tail or getting chopped up by the propellers, but at least they had a chance of making it. However, he two gunners, stuck in those nacelles, had no chance at all!

XWXwireXWX, bloodred1314=live.com, 17.04.2011

The thing looks way too futureistic. it belongs in Sci-fi, and it never would have been operational. Electical was shit, engine viewports (Leading edges) often broke in flight, of which there were only tests. PIECE OF CRAP.

deaftom, j_avanti=hotmail.com, 30.03.2011

Unfortunately, no complete or partial YFM-1s are still around. I know for a fact there is none at the Oakland Aviation Museum, having visited there last summer.

CHUCK BAISDEN, AVGVET=bellsouth.net, 11.03.2011

Worked on one at Mitchel way back when (1940). If anything could go wrong, it usually did. Electrical system was a nightmare. The YFM1 was a piece of JUNK. Nice to look at but not fly in.

jd, ctwduncan = Yahoo.com, 18.09.2010

My high school English teacher's husband worked at an aircraft assembly plant during WWII. On a visit to her house, I saw a hand carved model that he'd made of this particular aircraft. I wondered for years about this plane and only recently saw a photo.

rich sacchetti, richardsacchetti=comcast.net, 14.08.2010

Does anyone know if any of these planes; the BELL YFM-1, YFM-1A, YFM-1B AIRACUDA'S are still around; in a museum or privately owned? It's my understanding there might be one at Oakland International Airport - on display. Anyone know of any others. ALSO: how about the BELL XFL and XFL-1 AIRABONITA? Anyone know if any of these are still in existence? I'm trying to locate one of three tail #'s for this style aircraft; the tail number is #92846. Can anyone help in my quest? Anyone know is this aircraft is in a museum someplace, or has a private owner? Please, it's for the daughter of the Engineer that helped design and build both of these aircraft. e-mail me any data you might have regarding these aircraft, as to their whereabouts. Thank you. RJS

Marko, mark.murdock=delta.com, 09.02.2010

It reminds of a plane I saw in a Bugs Bunny Cartoon, Just before it crashes... it runs out of gas and stops 5' off of the ground

Gary, gg9496=aol.com, 08.09.2009

Very interesting plane. Most prop engine plane are mounted on the front. Does a "pusher" prop give up performance. The Piaggio P180 Avanti would suggest no.

Larry, Lobo7=yahoo.com, 10.11.2008

My cousin, Brian Sparks, was the test co-pilot who was disabled for life, when trying to bail from this hastily designed plane. The plane's questionable "...reputation probably did much to keep pilots and crews away." from this attractive aircraft. Unfortunately, it ended up becoming a "Hanger Queen".
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YFM-1_Airacuda

David, Zenmagius=gmail.com, 12.10.2008

The Aircuda was classified as a heavy fighter, the design imperative being the perceived need to intercept hordes of enemy long-range bombers well out over the Atlantic before they reached the American mainland. The aircraft had minimal defensive armament because the scenario envisioned intercepting the bombers after they were outside their own fighter escorts range. The Aircuda used an innovative central gun control in the main fuselage to aim the 3 cannons, with the nacelle gunners serving primarily as loaders. According to a USAAC test pilot it tended to pitch severly depending on throttle settings, but was extremely stable in the landing approach. One of the design defects he cited was that the Aircuda used a 4 cylinder APU to provide power to all electrical systems, including the main powerplants. He cited a number of instance in which the APU failed, resulting in a total loss of power in the mains. Usually the APU could be restarted in-flight, but on one occasion he was forced to dead-stick the landing. Not a big confidence builder in the pilot ranks. At any rate, the need for the aircraft never materialized, and it was soon superceded by far more capable aircraft.

Maguire, 10.06.2008

I think they weren't accepted due to their slow speed and poor maneuverability. other fighters would have been able to blow it out of the sky and it would barely be able to keep up with others.

Capt. Alan G. Edwards, edwardsfly=rockisland.com, 06.05.2008

I am 80% of the way in building 1 plastic model of all 275 WW2 aircraft built by 17 separate countries. At this stage all the more common kits are finished (185). Finding the rare birds such as the Airacuda is proving difficult but the XFM-1 would be most interesting. Been shopping and digging all over the world--the Czechs offer many limited run kits some of which are buildable but you takes a chance. Mach II from France has a PBM-2 Coronado but they have a lousy rep and inflated prices although I built their Martin Mariner sucessfully--was told at an IPMS contest that I should get an award for just getting it together!!

1-20 21-40

Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?

Name    E-mail


COMPANY
PROFILE


FACTS AND FIGURES

The highly complicated electrical system required a full-time auxiliary petrol motor running inside the fuselage to keep it energized. If it failed (and it did) the pilot lost flaps, gear, fuel pumps and engines.

The crew in the nacelles were more loaders than gunners. Although they could fire the 27mm cannon, this was normally done by the fire-control officer in the fuselage.

A periscope under the nose gave the fire-control officer a view behind and below to search for enemy fighters.



All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com Avitop.com