Leroy Randle Grumman
Leroy Rundle "Roy" Grumman (January 4, 1895 - October 4, 1982) aeronautical engineer, test pilot and industrialist, founded the Grumman Aeronautical Engineering Co. in 1929, later renamed Grumman Aerospace Corporation ... Founded at the height of the Great Depression, despite the paralysis that gripped the American economy, in December 1931 the company flew its first-born - the FF-1 fighter, and in 1935 the further development of the F2F was adopted by the fleet aviation. It was from this moment that a long and fruitful cooperation between Grumman and the US Navy began, which continues to this day, however, now under the auspices of Northrop Grumman. And in those days, despite the ongoing economic crisis, and the scarce funding associated with it, the research and development department of the Bureau of Aeronautics (the organization responsible for the creation of aircraft for the needs of the Navy) continued to develop technical requirements for new promising machines, including fighters.
In September 1935, Grumman and other aircraft manufacturers received from the Bureau the SD-24D terms of reference for the development and construction of a modern fighter, of course, on a competitive basis. The main requirement for the new car was to obtain a very high rate of climb. The naval strategists found it unacceptable that the F2F climbed 6,100 meters in 12 minutes. They quite rightly believed that during this time, long-range enemy bombers could deliver a crushing blow to naval bases such as Pearl Harbor or Honolulu and anchored ships in them. The rate of climb in this case was the key condition for a successful interception, as well as powerful weapons. In addition, despite the fact that the interceptor did not require a large range, it had to be able to be based on the deck of an aircraft carrier, which led to the need to strengthen the airframe structure, install a folding wing and a brake hook, and this caused an increase in the weight of the vehicle.
The Grumman design team had extensive experience in operating a fighter. This experience was taken into account and formed the basis for a new aircraft model. Already in February 1938, the G-33 program began, which provided for the transition in the XF4F-2 aircraft from the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 engine to the Wright R-2600. By that time, the new motor was still at the preliminary testing stage. Almost immediately, the program was curtailed in favor of the G-33A program, which affected a new modification of the XF4F-3 aircraft. Already in March 1938, preliminary work resulted in the G-35 program to create an enlarged version of the F4F fighter. From the outset, the Wright R-2600 engine was chosen for the aircraft, which at the time was the most powerful American aircraft engine. The G-35 program was led by William Schwendler and Richard Hutton. It quickly became clear that the new engine could not be installed on either the F4F-2 or the F4F-3 - the engine was too large and heavy. The R-2600 engine, which develops a third more power than the previous R-1820, required a large-diameter propeller that simply could not be installed on the F4F aircraft due to insufficient clearance. Meanwhile, the XF4F-2 lost to the Brewster F2A-1 in the competition for a carrier-based fighter. The Grumman design team focused all efforts on the rescue of the F4F. The vicissitudes that followed are worthy of a separate book. As a result, the car was saved, it went into production, after which the designers had the opportunity to continue work on the fighter with the R-2600 engine. By that time, the engine developed a power of 1600-1700 hp. depending on the modification. Grumman was able to convince the command of the fleet that a new fighter was required, characterized by a large range, increased armor and better weapons. The small "Wildcat" physically could not meet the new requirements, even if it could be supplied with a more powerful engine.
Grumman Chief Designer William T. Schwendler has begun work on a new aircraft, working designation G-50. As a starting point, he took the need to provide a greater range, good armor and greater force of fire. As a result, the dimensions of the aircraft had to be significantly increased, although the silhouette as a whole remained the same.
A full-size model was made, which was demonstrated on January 12, 1941 to the Model Commission of the Bureau of Aeronautics. The protocol of the show instructed to increase the size of the aircraft: length from 9.55 to 10.224 m, wingspan from 12.649 to 13.056 m and, accordingly, wing area from 26.941 to 31.029 m & # 178 ;. The result should have been the largest American carrier-based fighter, which at the same time would have the lowest specific wing loading. According to calculations, the aircraft should have had a good climb rate. The fighter was a mid-wing with folded back wings. When folded, the wings were laid along the fuselage like a roof, with the leading edges up. This wing folding system has already been tested on the company's previous aircraft: F4F-4 "Wildcat" and TBF-1 "Avenger". The chassis was a major problem. It was intended to use the Boeing chassis on the aircraft, which was widely used at the time, including on the competing F4U Corsair. The landing gear was retracted into the wings in the direction of the tail with a simultaneous turn of the struts by 90 °. Thanks to this feature, the landing gear was entirely placed in the non-folding wing console and did not take up space there. where in the wings it is most convenient to place weapons. With folded wings, the height of the aircraft reached 3.52 m.