Convair XFY

The Convair XFY Pogo tailsitter was an experiment in vertical takeoff and landing. The Pogo had delta wings and three-bladed contra-rotating propellers powered by a 5,500 hp Allison YT40-A-16 turboprop engine. It was intended to be a high-performance fighter aircraft capable of operating from small warships. Landing the XFY-1 was difficult as the pilot had to look over his shoulder while carefully working the throttle to land.

Concerned over the numbers of merchant ships lost during World War II, the post-war US Navy proposed an idea to place a VTOL (Vertical Taker-Off and Landing) aircraft on every vessel as a defensive measure. The Lockheed and Convair Companies both submitted very similar research vehicles for evaluation. Both Companies based their machines on the Allison XT-40-A-6 turboprop driving a 16ft three bladed Curtiss contra- rotating propeller. Lockheed’s machine being given the designation the Lockheed XFV-1 Salmon (named after their chief engineer Herman ‘Fish’ Salmon) and Convair’s was designated XFY-1 Pogo. Convair’s Test Pilot ‘Skeets’ Coleman being selected to test fly the unusual new aircraft.

The comments of the test pilots charged with flying these two revolutionary aircraft were similar. Both required extraordinary airmanship in landing and taking-off under good weather conditions; in operational service, at night on a pitching ship’s deck, the manoeuvres just could not be accomplished by frontline squadron pilots. The lack of enthusiasm shown by the test pilots reports would eventually kill the project even before the Lockheed XFV-1 had managed to accomplish a vertical take off. Only the Convair XFY-1 achieved full vertical flight on the 1ST of August 1954 when the test pilot took the aircraft up to 150ft. Two month’s later the aircraft was put through a complete flight envelope but by that time the US Navy had lost interest in the project and decided to concentrate its efforts on more conventional aircraft. With funding being withdrawn further development was cancelled.

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