Hughes XF-11
1946
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Hughes XF-11

Designed specifically for long-range photographic reconnaissance, the Hughes XR-11 (formerly XF-11) twin-engined, twin-boom monoplane flew for the first time on 7 July 1946 but lost a propeller, the flight ending in a crash that nearly cost pilot Howard Hughes his life. A second aircraft flew on 5 April 1947 and subsequently went to Eglin Field, Florida (now Eglin Air Force Base), to be tested, but the US Air Force cancelled the programme in favour of utilizing the much more economical Boeing RB-50 to meet the long-range photo-reconnaissance requirement.

Hughes XF-11


Specification 
 MODELXF-11
 ENGINE2 x Pratt-Whitney R-4360, 2611kW
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight26416 kg58238 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan30.90 m101 ft 5 in
    Length19.97 m66 ft 6 in

Hughes XF-11

Comments
Bill, b_brat43=yahoo.com, 06.12.2012

This plane is another example of the government not buying the best plane for the job. Does anyone know what happened to the 2nd prototype 47-1056?

Klaatu83, klaatu83=lycos.com, 24.09.2012

The photos show the second prototype, which was built without the contra-rotating propellers which caused Hughes so much trouble. The reversal of pitch of one of those contra-rotating props caused the crash of the first prototype, nearly killing Hughes.

There was no relation between the P-38 and this aircraft, except for the fact that they shared the same basic twin-boom configuration. The F-11 was not a fighter, it was specifically designed to be a long-range, high-altitude, high-speed photo-reconnaissance platform. Apart from everything else, with a take-off weight of over 58,000 pounds, it would have been far to big and heavy ever to have been a fighter. I suppose the most appropriate comparison would be to say that this was aircraft was meant to have been the SR-71 of the 1940s.

The only other aircraft built to meet the AAF specification for which Hughes designed the XF-11 was the equally spectacular Republic XF-12 Rainbow, which was an even larger four-engine aircraft.

norb, bobby34s=frontiernet.ney, 18.02.2011

Why does every nut keep on harping on it being a redesign of a p38 which was a awwaaaii fighter aircraft and a good one two. This aircraft was not designed to be a fighter! It is a high altitude recon air craft with long range capability. It was slow reaction to changes in the control surfaces and tended to slop and slide if pushed in aerobatics because of small control surfaces at low altitudes would never lend it to combat. It is a single purpose design --recon.

Noprb, bobby34s=frontiernet.net, 02.10.2010

The P38 saw limited use as a recon plane and had in those planes a camera mounted in the nose of the center section but is was NOT A LONG RANGE RECON plane nor cvould it fly as high.

+odd Eaton, gdafcgd=hotmail.com, 18.12.2008

This had the longest range (5,000 mi.) highest service cieling (45,000 ft.) highest multi-engine unofficial speed (480 mph w/CR hydromatic props) and with external fuel had the greatest time aloft potencial of any piston engined aircraft made, it was an elitist dream come true!

Nathan Mofield, natemofield=yahoo.com, 14.07.2008

How did the original counter rotating props work? Like so maney of Lockheeds airframes this bird was long and sleek> I love it

Maguire, 10.06.2008

Although this plane was great at high altimtudes it had poor low speed and low altitude performance. It couldn't have been used as a fighter because of its small ailerons and slow turn rate. It was designed from the D-2 to be a recon plane, nothing else.

barry4900, horrell=tadaust.org.au, 17.04.2008

Obviously related to or inspired U-2 & SR-1 type operations

3VI, landmania=libero.it, 15.12.2007

It could be an excellent recon plane, maybe not a fighter and it would not to be.
Howard Hughes frequently said P-38 was an unauthorized copy of his original project (the D-2 Convoy Protector fighter), but Kelly Johnson at Lockheed started early on 1937 to design his more lucky creature.

Sgt.KAR98, 20.10.2007

This plane is beautiful!
Looks like an advanced P-38!Dunno why it wasn´t used as a fighter...

Vilmar Moccelin, vilmarmoccelin=uol.com.br, 16.10.2007

Joris, the XF-11 is twice the weight and is twice the size of the P-38... The performance of the XF-11 in hi altitude is superior and the range of the Huges is far superior.

And it isn't a fighter, is the father of the U-2 and SR-71.

Johnny Wickham, corncobradial=aol.com, 14.09.2007

Howard Hughes was a nut case, a gifted pilot & designer and probaly a genious, but still a nut case.

Joris Van den Berghe, jorisvdbtomahawk=hotmail.com, 21.02.2007

It looks a little like a P-38 Lightning. Why should they design such a beast if the P-38 was able to do the same job?

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FACTS AND FIGURES

© The XF-11 had a two-man cockpit and a large camera nose. Unlike the XF-12 there was no room for onboard film processing.

© The first XF-11 had eight-bladed contra-rotating propellers with reversible pitch. It is thought that the rear propeller on the starboard engine went into reverse, precipitating the crash.

© The ailerons were small and gave sluggish control at low altitudes, although high-altitude performance was very good.

© Most of the fuel supply was carried in the long tailbooms.



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