Academic journal article Air Power History

History Mystery

Academic journal article Air Power History

History Mystery

Article excerpt

Air Power History's discerning readers made short work of the XF--91, a rakish jet fighter of the 1950s with unusual features. Our photos of the XF--91 come from Republic Aviation Corp., which gave the Air Force the P--47 Thunderbolt and F--105 Thunderchief among other great warplanes. Some called the XF--91 the Thunderceptor, but the name may have been unofficial.

The XF--91 began as a 1946 proposal for a high-altitude interceptor capable of meeting Soviet bombers far from their targets in North America and initially called the XP--91. A Republic engineering team put together the company's first swept-wing aircraft, designed to use a combination of turbojet and rocket power to achieve supersonic flight on at least a temporary basis.

Similar in appearance to the F-84F Thunderstreak (which actually came later), the XF--91 was powered by a 5,200-pound thrust General Electric J47-GE-3 turbojet engine plus four 1,500-pound thrust Reaction Motors XLRII-RM9 rocket motors mounted two each above and below its jet exhaust. The rocket engines were by no means the only unusual feature of the XF--91: Its 35-degree swept wing could be adjusted to vary the incidence to the most effective angle for takeoff, landing, or cruise. And the wing was of inverse taper--possibly the only time this concept was ever tried--with the thickest and widest portion of the wing at the tip instead of the root. …

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