The Lockheed XFV-1 was an experimental VTOL aircraft prototype designed to demonstrate that a fighter could be deployed on convoy ships to provide them with air cover. It would take off and land from a tail sitting position. It was certainly a unique concept!
The US Navy ordered the aircraft in 1951 and 2 prototypes were built in 1953. The XFV-1 was nicknamed ‘Salmon‘ after the chief test pilot of the aircraft, Herman ‘Fish’ Salmon and was powered by 5,332hp Allison YT40-A-14 turboprop engine that drove three-bladed contra-rotating propellers. It was a one weird-looking aircraft!
Test flights were conducted between 1954 – 1955 but only one of the prototypes ever flew. A temporary undercarriage was attached to assist in take off and landings.
The biggest problem for the XFV-1 was that it was very difficult to handle and in a total of 32 flights it never actually made any vertical take offs or landings (except for an accidental hop in 1953 before proper flight testing). During flight testing the pilots were able to transition from level flight to vertical, so at least that worked! The XFV-1 was never going to be operationally effective and ultimately the project was cancelled in 1955. A competitor for this project was the Convair XFY-1 Pogo and although it was more successful in vertical take off, it was difficult to fly and land and was also cancelled, with its last flight taking place in 1956 (3 were built but only 1 ever flew). Both aircraft were also not fast enough to compete against enemy jet-engined aircraft so the concept was eventually abandoned.
Although a cancelled project the flying prototypes of both aircraft still exist. The XFV-1 used in the flight testing is today restored and on display at the Florida Air Museum in Lakeland. I got to see it at the Sun ‘n Fun Air Show this year. For some reason it is painted with the serial number 658 rather than 657.