Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly

A-38_Grizzly

Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly

Walter and Olive Ann Beech wanted to produce an aircraft for the WWII war effort that would have “Claws” therein was the production of the Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly.

The Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly was a USAA attack aircraft, fitted with a forward firing 75 mm cannon to attack heavily armored targets on the ground.

The first prototype flew on 7 May 1944, it used engines however, which were required by the B-29 Superfortress and had priority, therefore it became obvious the Grizzly would not be ready for the projected invasion of Japan so it was canceled after two prototypes had been completed.

The US Army Air Forces awarded Beech Aircraft Corporation a contract in December 1942 for two prototypes for their Model 28 “Destroyer”. The requirement was for a powerful ground attack aircraft to replace the Douglas A-20 Havoc, with the ability to hit “hard” targets (Tanks and Bunkers, for example) with effectiveness.

The effective capability was achieved through a 75 mm cannon with 20 rounds, mounted in a fixed position on the nose as well as two .50 cal (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns firing forward. Defensive armament consisted of remotely-controlled ventral and dorsal turrets, each armed with twin .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns. There were to be two crew members, a pilot and an observer/gunner in the rear cabin, using periscope sights to aim the guns.

On 7 May 1944, Beech test pilot Vern Carstens flew the XA-38 on its maiden flight from the company’s Wichita airfield. The aircraft proved satisfactory in all respects and better than expected in some, including top speed.

During testing, the XA-38 prototypes were flown by U.S. Army pilots and serviced by military personnel, proving to be reliable and establishing a high level of serviceability.

The armament proved especially effective and had it not been for wartime priorities shifting in 1944, the aircraft would most likely have been ordered in quantity, although the B-29 had priority for the Wright R-3350 engines. Instead, one prototype was scrapped and the other, intended for the USAF Museum, had an unknown fate.

The XA-38 Grizzly required a crew of two. The aircraft had a Length of: 51 ft 9 in; Wingspan: 67 ft 4 in;  Height: 15 ft 6 in; Empty weight: 22,480 lb; Engines: 2 × Wright R-3350-43 air-cooled radial engine, 2,300 hp; Performance: Maximum speed: 370 mph (322 knots, at 17,000 ft; Range: 1,625 miles (1,413 nmi, ); Service ceiling: 29,000 ft Rate of climb: 2,600 ft/min.

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