Lockheed XF-90
1950
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Lockheed XF-90

The Lockheed XF-90 was built to meet a USAF requirement for a long-range penetration fighter (along with the McDonnell XF-88 and North American YF-93A). Developed by Clarence L. (Kelly) Johnson's Lockheed fighter team, known in later years as the 'Skunk Works', the XF-90 combined swept-wing technology with the experience gained in producing the straight-wing F-80 Shooting Star. It was intended as an almost-all-purpose fighter, capable of handling the ground-attack role in addition to its prime task of escorting bombers deep into Soviet airspace. The two prototypes were to be tested in a fly-off competition with the McDonnell and North American designs.

Actually, the XF-90 evolved over two years and resulted from 65 different designs created by Johnson's engineers. These included butterfly-tailed aircraft, three-engine aircraft, 'W' winged designs and, finally, the big, tough craft that was chosen. The final XF-90 had 12.7mm rivets in the wings and weighed as much as a DC-3. Its powerplants, sadly, were twin 1406kg thrust Westinghouse J34-WE-11 turbojets, the same engines which simply offered too little 'push' to so many fighter designs of the period.

Still, the XF-90 reached 1070km/h at 9784m in level flight and could easily be pushed through the sound barrier in a shallow dive. Throughout April and May 1950, the air above Muroc Dry Lake, California, exploded in sonic booms as Lockheed test pilot Tony LeVier put the XF-90 through high-speed dive tests. LeVier dived the XF-90 to Mach 1.12 on 17 May 1950.

The XF-90 stalled at 204km/h, making it no easy machine to control on the approach. Its take-off performance enabled it to clear a 15m obstacle in 2629m without the rocket-assisted take-off (RATO) units used in some tests, hardly a spectacular getaway from the ground. In the 1949 fly-off, the XF-88 came in first, the XF-90 second, and the YF-93A third, but by then the results were academic. With the September 1949 detonation of the Soviet Union's first nuclear weapon, the USAF penetration-fighter concept died.

A nuclear fate befell the second XF-90 which was rigged with instruments on the ground and destroyed in the 1952 atomic bomb tests at Frenchman's Flat, Nevada. Lockheed records indicate that the first XF-90 was shipped in 1953 to a National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio. Apparently, it was eventually broken up in tests at that NACA facility.

3-View 
Lockheed XF-90A three-view drawing (1638 x 893)


Specification 
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight12300 kg27117 lb
    Empty weight8400 kg18519 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan12.19 m40 ft 0 in
    Length17.12 m56 ft 2 in
    Height4.8 m16 ft 9 in
    Wing area32.05 m2344.98 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed1070 km/h665 mph
    Ceiling11800 m38700 ft
    Range3700 km2299 miles
 ARMAMENT6 x 20mm cannon planned

Comments
my big jhonson, 17.11.2012

fuck fuck fuck fuck fyclfjdifjpsiphtewripfj FUCK YOU AND AL YOUR MOTHEWRFUCKING FREINDS YOU LIIEE

bombardier, 23.05.2011

This aircraft was the progenitor of the F-104

Klaatu, 07.05.2011

A good-looking airplane, but TOO BIG! A close examination of the photo above indicates just how large and bulky this airplane actually was. It might have been a real winner, a sort of American Hawker Hunter, if it had been constructed to about 2/3 the scale. As it is, however, it's difficult to imagine this massive machine operating as a fighter, mixing it up in a dogfight with MIGs!

DW2, 28.09.2010

I always thought it was a cool plane because my comic strip heros the "Blackhawks" flew it. It was great to be a kid in the 50s! Alas, not so today!

Don Joy, 20.11.2009

The story on the stored XF-90 is that it is the #2 plane from the nuclear tests and that they are still trying to decontaminate it. But an air force tht is destroying all Bomarcs because of a few radium dials is going to be a long time decontaminating an airplane that went thru multiple nuclear tests

John Heron, 10.06.2008

I am certain that there is a single example of the XF-90 stored at W-P AFB museum reserve collection.

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