Bell YFM-1 Airacuda
The YFM-1 Airacuda (sometimes spelled Aerocuda) was developed as a bomber destroyer
aircraft. The FM in YFM stands for 'Fighter Multiplace' and is an USAAC designation, not
to be confused with the USN designation (as used on the FM-2 Wildcat). It was an
interesting design in that it had two engines, each with rearward-facing propellers, and
forward-facing gunner's positions in the front of each of the extended engine nacelles.
The 37mm cannon in each of these positions were remotely controlled by an operator seated
in the fuselage behind the pilot, though a gunner was stationed behind each gun as a
loader and for manual backup.
According to Major Alexander De Seversky's 1942 book "Victory Through Air
Power", the Bell Airacuda "represents a great engineering achievment. But its
designation as 'convoy fighter' is erroneous, since that requires different disposition of
armament. With its maximum firepower directed forward, it really offers a preview of an
effective long-range interceptor fighter."
It was decided to build an experimental series of 13 aircraft, first of which was
completed in September 1939. It was a revolutionary design that unfortunately was plagued
by mechanical problems and poor performance. As a result the program ended without the
Airacuda entering mass production.
||Heavy escort fighter/bomber destroyer aircraft
||Two Allison V-1710-13 (pusher config.) engines
||2x 1,133 HP
||600 sq ft
||55.8 sq m
||2x 37mm cannons, 2x 12.7mm machine guns, 2x 7.62mm machine
guns, up to 146 kg of bombs or rockets
||September 1, 1939 (XFM-1)
Source: David Hanson´s American
Aircraft of World War II
Jirka Wagner (If you
find some photo, send it to me, please)
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