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XF-87 Blackhawk
Role Interceptor
Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright
First flight 5 March 1948
Status Cancelled 10 October 1948
Number built 2
Unit cost US$11.3 million for the program[1]

The Curtiss-Wright XF-87 Blackhawk (previously designated the XA-43 and XP-87) was a prototype American all-weather jet fighter interceptor and the company's last aircraft project.[2] Designed as a replacement for the World War II-era propeller-driven P-61 Black Widow night/interceptor aircraft, the XF-87 lost in government procurement competition to the Northrop F-89 Scorpion. The loss of the contract was fatal; the Curtiss-Wright Corporation closed down its aviation division, selling its assets to North American Aviation.


Design and development

The aircraft started life as a project for an attack aircraft, designated XA-43. When the United States Army Air Forces issued a requirement for a jet-powered night and all-weather fighter in 1945, the design was reworked for that request.

The XP-87 as it was then designated was a large mid-wing aircraft with four engines paired in underwing pods, with a mid-mounted tailplane and tricycle undercarriage. Two crew members (pilot and radio operator) sat side by side under a single canopy. Armament was to be a nose-mounted, powered turret containing four 20 mm (.79 in) cannon, but this was never fitted to the prototypes.

Operational history

The first flight was on 5 March 1948. Although the top speed was slower than expected, the aircraft was otherwise acceptable, and the newly-formed (in September 1947) United States Air Force placed orders for 57 F-87A fighters and 30 RF-87A reconnaissance planes just over a month later. Since the performance problems were due to lack of power, the four Westinghouse XJ34-WE-7 turbojets of the prototypes were to be replaced by two General Electric J47-GE-7 jets in production models. One of the two XF-87 prototypes was to be converted to the new powerplants for test purposes.

At this point, the USAF decided that the Northrop F-89 Scorpion was a more promising aircraft. The F-87 contract was cancelled on 10 October 1948, and both prototypes were scrapped.

Specifications (XF-87)

General characteristics

  • Crew: two - pilot, radio operator
  • Length: 62 ft (18.9 m)
  • Wingspan: 60 ft (18.3 m)
  • Height: 20 ft 4 in (6.2 m)
  • Wing area: 600 ft² (55.7 m²)
  • Empty weight: 25,930 lb (11,760 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 49,900 lb (22,600 kg)
  • Powerplant:Westinghouse XJ34-WE-7 turbojets, 3,000 lbf (13 kN) each



  • 4 × 20 mm cannon in nose turret (never fitted)

See also

Comparable aircraft

Related lists




  1. ^ Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
  2. ^ Winchester 2005, pp. 72–73.


  • Pace, Steve. X-Fighters: USAF Experimental and Prototype Fighters, XP-59 to YF-23. Oscela, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International, 1991. ISBN 0-87938-540-5.
  • Winchester, Jim. Concept Aircraft: Prototypes, X-Planes and Experimental Aircraft. Rochester, Kent, UK: Grange books plc, 2005. ISBN 1-84013-809-2.

External links


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