Tag Archives: Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 9 R-1820G5

7 December 1936

Boeing YB-17 36-149 nosed over on landing at Seattle, 7 December 1936. (Unattributed)
Boeing YB-17 36-149 nosed over on landing at Seattle, 7 December 1936. (Unattributed)
Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Umstead
Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Umstead

7 December 1936: After its third test flight, the first YB-17 service test aircraft, 36-149, landed back at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington. The pilot was Lieutenant Colonel Stanley M. Umstead, Air Corps, United States Army, who was considered to be the Army’s most experienced and capable pilot.

When the airplane touched down, the main wheels locked and after skidding a short distance, the B-17 nosed over. The bomber’s brakes had welded. No injuries were reported. 36-149 suffered moderate damage.

Boeing repaired the bomber. On 11 January 1937, the YB-17 was  flown to Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, for continued testing. 36-149 was then assigned to the 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley Field, Virginia, 1 March 1937. In October 1940 the bomber was transferred to the 19th Bombardment Group at March Field, California. On 11 February 1942 it was transferred to the Air Park at Amarillo Army Air Field, a B-17 training base in Texas. 36-149 was written off 11 December 1942.

A contemporary newspaper article reported the incident:

Landing from a test flight in Seattle, Wash., the new 16 ton army bombing plane YB-17 nosed over and was badly damaged. Capt. E.R. McReynolds, an army air corps observer who was aboard, said the air brakes locked, preventing the landing wheels from rolling when the plane touched the ground. It was reported subsequently in Washington, D.C. that the accident might result in suspending construction of 13 bombing planes of similar type pending an investigation. The YB-17, largest land plane ever built in America, was designed to carry a ton of bombs and had a cruising range of 3,000 miles.

Chicago Sunday Tribune, 13 December 1936, Part 2, Page 8, Column 8.

Boeing YB-17 resting on its nose after brakes locked while landing. —LIFE Magazine, 21 December 1935, at page 15
Boeing YB-17 36-149 resting on its nose after its brakes locked while landing. —LIFE Magazine, 21 December 1936, at page 15.

The YB-17 had several improvements over the Model 299, which had been retroactively designated XB-17. There were long carburetor intakes on the top of the engine nacelles, which visually distinguishes the YB-17 from the follow-on YB-17A. The main landing gear has one strut rather than the two of the Model 299.

The Boeing Model 299B was designated YB-17 by the Army Air Corps. It was 68 feet, 4 inches (20.828 meters) long with a wingspan of 103 feet, 9 inches (31.633 meters) and an overall height of 18 feet, 4 inches (5.588 meters). It had an empty weight of 24,465 pounds (11,097 kilograms), gross weight of 34,880 pounds (15,821 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 42,600 pounds (19,323 kilograms).

Instead of the Pratt & Whitney engines installed on the 299, the YB-17 had four air-cooled, supercharged 1,823.129-cubic-inch-displacement (29.875 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 9 R-1820G5 (R-1820-39) nine-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.45:1. The R-1820-39 was rated at 805 horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m., at Sea Level, and 930 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m., at Sea Level, for takeoff. The engines turned three-bladed Hamilton Standard constant-speed propellers through a 16:11 gear reduction, in order to match the engines’ effective power range with the propellers. The R-1820-39 was 3 feet, 9-7/16 inches (1.154 meters) long, 4 feet, 6-¼ inches (1.378 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,198 pounds (543.4 kilograms).

The cruise speed of the YB-17 was 217 miles per hour (349 kilometers per hour) and its maximum speed was 256 miles per hour (412 kilometers per hour) at 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). The bomber’s service ceiling was 30,600 feet (9,327 meters) and the maximum range was 3,320 miles (5,343 kilometers).

The YB-17 could carry 8,000 pounds (3,629 kilograms) of bombs. Defensive armament consisted of five .30-caliber air-cooled machine guns.

Boeing YB-17 36-139 after landing accident, 7 December 1936.
Boeing YB-17 36-149 after landing accident, 7 December 1936. (Unattributed)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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2 December 1937

Brewster XF2A-1 prototype during flight tests. (U.S. Navy)
The Brewster XF2A-1 prototype during flight tests. (U.S. Navy)

2 December 1937: First flight, Brewster Aeronautical Corporation XF2A-1 prototype, Bu. No. 0451. The XF2A-1 was designed as a replacement for the U.S. Navy’s biplane fighter, the Grumman F3F. It was an all-metal, single-place, single-engine mid-wing monoplane with an enclosed cockpit, retractable landing gear and an arresting hook for aircraft carrier operations.

The XF2A-1 was 25 feet, 6 inches (7.772 meters) long, with a wingspan of 35 feet, 0 inches (10.668 meters) and overall height of 11 feet, 9 inches (3.581 meters). The prototype had an empty weight of 3,711 pounds (1,683 kilograms) and gross weight of 5,017 pounds (2,276 kilograms).

Brewster XF2A-1 Bu. No. 0451 at the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. (NASA)

The prototype Buffalo was powered by an air-cooled, supercharged, 1,823.129-cubic-inch-displacement (29.876 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Cyclone 9 R-1820G5 (R-1820-22) nine cylinder radial engine with a compression ratio of 6.45:1. This was a direct-drive engine, and turned a three-bladed propeller. (Photographs show the prototype with both Curtiss Electric and Hamilton Standard propellers.) The R-1820-22 had a normal power rating of 850 horsepower at 2,100 r.p.m., and 950 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m., for takeoff. The engine was 43.12 inches (1.095 meters) long, 54.25 inches (1.378 meters) in diameter, and weighed 1,105 pounds (501 kilograms).

The prototype had a maximum speed of 304 miles per hour (489 kilometers per hour) and a service ceiling of 30,900 feet (9,418 meters). The production F2A-2 fighter had a maximum speed of 322 miles per hour (518 kilometers per hour) at 14,500 feet (4,420 meters). It could climb from Sea Level to 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) in 9.0 minutes, and its service ceiling was 36,100 feet (11,003 meters). The F2A-2 had a maximum range of 1,085 miles (1,746. kilometers).

Brewster XF2A-1 Bu. No. 0451. (U.S. Navy)
Brewster XF2A-1 Bu. No. 0451. (U.S. Navy)

In a service test competition, the XF2A-1 outperformed Grumman’s prototype XF4F, which would later become the Wildcat. The U.S. Navy ordered it into production as the F2A-1. It was the first monoplane in fleet service.

In production, the new fighter was armed with one .50-caliber and one .30-caliber machine gun, synchronized to fire through the propeller arc.

The Brewster Model 399E (F2A-2) was ordered by the Royal Air Force and designated Buffalo Mk.I. “Buffalo” became the popular nickname for the fighter, although it was not officially adopted by the U.S. Navy.

Brewster Buffalos served during the early months of World War II, notably at Wake Island and the Battle of Midway. The airplane was outperformed by Japanese fighters and losses were heavy. It was quickly withdrawn from front line use.

The Brewster Buffalo served with several foreign countries, such as England, Belgium, Finland, the Netherlands East Indies. These airplanes were significantly lighter than the the U.S. Navy F2A-3 production variants, and the Buffalo’s cockpit visibility and maneuverability was favored by their pilots.

A total of 509 Buffalos were built between 1938 and 1941.

Brewster XF2A-1 Buffalo prototype Bu. No. 0451. (U.S. Navy)
Brewster XF2A-1 prototype Bu. No. 0451. (U.S. Navy)

In May 1938, the prototype XF2A-1 was tested in the Full-Scale Wind Tunnel at the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Recommended changes resulted in a 10% increase in the fighter’s speed.

Brewster XF2A-1 Buffalo Bu. No. 0451 in the Full-Scale Wind Tunnel at NACA Langley, circa 1938. (NASA)
Brewster F2A-1 (Rudy Arnold Collection/NASM)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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