OS-111 & XVA(H1) Navy Heavy Bomber projects (alternatives to Skywarrior)


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17 July 2006
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I know, that:
The official inquiry was dispatched by fourteen firms:
1) Douglas
2) Curtiss-Wright
3) North American
4) ?
5) ?
6) ?
7) ?
8) ?
9) ?
10) ?
11) ?
12) ?
13) ?
14) ?

Six firms have answered:
1) Douglas Model 593...
2) Curtiss-Wright Model ?
3) North American Model ?
4) ? Model ?
5) ? Model ?
6) ? Model ?

A little bit later there were three firms:
1) Douglas Model 593
2) Curtiss-Wright Model ?
3) North American Model ?

What can you add?
A great topic the Whale (A-3).

Thanks Devi for bring it up

Long over due!

Have been trying to find out this myself for many years now without success.
All I know is that the RAND Corporation ‘think tank’ stated that an aircraft weighing less than 150,000 lb could not fly the mission.
Eight aviation companies responded to the 1948 ‘Request for Proposal’. (RfP), but soon after two companies (I do not know which ones!) dropped out of the competition, saying that the task required by the RfP could not be meet by at the US Navy’s specification of 100,000 lb. Soon all other companies dropped out of the competition, being unable to meet all the stringent demands into one design, except for Curtis-Wright and Douglas.
At the end of 1948 Douglas and Curtiss-Wright were awarded preliminary design contracts.
Curtiss-Wright failed at 100,000 lb, while Douglas, under the great Ed Heinemann submitted a design of only 68,000 lb.
The Navy thought that Heinemann had lost his mind; being told by his Aircraft Division head man Capt. Joe Murphy – ‘You know good and well you can’t produce an airplane of that capacity for that weight’
What the US Navy ended up with was the XA3D-1 (A-3A) Skywarrior.

It would be great to see pictures/drawings of competitive designs, that went up against one of the Navy’s best and useful designs, that has been largely over looked by military and aviation historians

P.S. Has anyone got any photos of A-3 dropping bombs?
I have never seen a photo of the Whale doing what it was designed for – as a bomber dropping bombs!

P.S. Has anyone got any photos of A-3 dropping bombs?
I have never seen a photo of the Whale doing what it was designed for – as a bomber dropping bombs!


This was 10 miles south of Pleiku, 24 May 1965.
Would the North American entry be the XA2J-1 TurboSavage or a development of that? I could see a derivative with swept wings and turbojet engines.
I too so think my friend elmayerle.

What USN's name of program A3D/A-3?
What USN's name of program A3D/A-3?

From: Douglas A-3 Skywarrior. Aerograph 5. René Francillon with Ed Heinemann.

RPF was issued on August 16, 1948 and the name was XVA(H1) Long Range Heavy Attack Aircraft


Hi pometablava.

Many thanks for the information.

And what designation USN type OS-?
Hi pometablava.

If is in book McDonnell Douglas Since 1920: Volume I it is shown Douglas projet list if it is possible show us.
RFP for the Navy XVA(H1) sent on August 16 1948 to:

Bell,Boeing,Chance Vought,Convair,Curtiss,Douglas,
Fairchild,Grumman,Lockheed,Martin,McDonnell,North American
Northrop and Republic.

Bids from : Douglas,Consolidated(Convair),Curtiss
Fairchild,Martin and Republic.

Finalists: Douglas and Curtiss.

Winner : Douglas with Model 593-8 - July 1949.

But for the Douglas contender no designation given.

Sources : Naval Fighters No45 - Douglas A3D Skywarrior-part 1
Bruce Cunningham
Aerograph No5 - Douglas A-3 Skywarrior
René Francillon with Edward Heinemann.
And what designation USN type OS-?
It was OS-111 ... and I have a real surprise here: a skecht of the preliminary Northrop subsmission (N-59).. a flying wing, you bet!
And some info on the lockeed preliminary studies too... Italians do it better (occasionally...).
Hi Skybolt.

1) Convair Model ?
2) Curtiss-Wright Model ?
3) Douglas Model D-593....
4) Fairchild Model M-1?? (and or Model ?)
5) Martin Model M-246 (?)
6) Republic Model NP-?

To mine OS-111 absolutely other competition.
As far as the best sources go (Renè Francillon and Naval Fighters A3D Skywarrior), before the REAl XVA(H1) RFP there was the OS-111 preliminary type specification drafted Dec. 23 1947 for a carrier-bomber capable of carrying a Fat Bomb type A-bomb (12.000 lbs) for a radius of action of 3150 Km. Francillon (i.e Henimann) says that Douglas was shown the specification and started to make proposals more and more refined. Then he monously says that "the other manufacturer jockeyed for position". Nothing else is said of those "others". But now we can shed a little light (pardon my dramatization). Four months ago one of the leading Italian monthly devoted to aviation history (Aerei nella Storia) ran a special feature on the Northop flying wings. Standard teratment except for some info and illustrations on the civilain derivative of the XB-35 (new for me) and thsi one. Northrop advanced an informal proposals to the Os-111, that you can see here. The magazine doesn't give model numbers. I infer the N-59 number from the list published in the Docavia Northorp (bombardier embarque). The magazine, and this is really intriguing, adss that one of the "other manufacturers" tendering a desing was Lockeed, which actually tendered a fistful: the L-187 family of planes, very similar to the Douglas later proposals (two podded engine, high mounted swept-wing), and a L-187-3 which was a three engine flying wing.
1) enjoy the picture
2) dig in your archives for more info both on the N-59 and the L-187 series
3) wonder how the N-59 skecth could have wound up in an Italian journalist (albeit a SUPER one, Nico Sgarlato) archive


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Hi Skybolt.

In picture Lockheed TDN Model L--187-3.

Please precisely specify number and pages of magazine Aerei nella Storia.

I tomorrow shall show Lockheed TDN Model L-187......

The flying wing is the Lockheed L-187-3 variant
in the L-187 TDN series to OS-111 (long range carrier
based bomber-1948) ....

Source : AAHS journal ,Winter 1999.
Lark, are you saying that the picture is of the Lockeed one? It it's so, alas, there goes the myth of the super-duper journalist...
Anyway, Aerei nella Storia, March 2006, page 68
The flying wing is the Lockheed L-187-3 variant
in the L-187 TDN series to OS-111 (long range carrier
based bomber-1948) ....

Ah, I see, great three part artcicle by the great and late Bill Slayton... I'll order immediately the back issues!!

Thanks Lark
Hi Devi,

did Vought envolve in this competition ?.

4 Part article - AAHS : Spring ,Summer,Fall and Winter 1999.
Yes, but 1999/4 is unavailable... Actually, a fifth part is in the 2000 volume, I notice now

Can you give the source or address from where you obtain your
AAHS Journal back issues please.
My source dried up almost a year ago...

Thanks in advance.
Sure. AAHS outsourced a site called APT Collectibles to sell past volumes and issues. They don't have all and they make a lot of difficulties in shipping outside US and Canada, but if you are in North Amerca you can buy online and pay via PayPal. For the rest of us, you must send an order form and arrange to pay somehow...
did Vought envolve in this competition ?.

According to Ed Heinemann (designer of the A3D Skywarrior) No.
Ed Heinemann states - 'Near the end of 1948 the following companies submitted competitive bids for the new bomber: Douglas El Segundo, Curtiss-Wright, Martin, Consolidated, Fairchild, and Republic. Those declining were North American, Grumman, Vought, Bell and Lockheed'.

RPF was issued on August 16, 1948 and the name was XVA(H1) Long Range Heavy Attack Aircraft

'Commander Tommy Thomas - Project officer for the new VAX (H) program'................

Note this info is from an old book about Ed Heinemann that I photocopied as a kid.
Sorry I have no name of book!

AAHS back issues show up on eBay regularly. That's how I completed my collection.

Skybolt said:
Sure. AAHS outsourced a site called APT Collectibles to sell past volumes and issues. They don't have all and they make a lot of difficulties in shipping outside US and Canada, but if you are in North Amerca you can buy online and pay via PayPal. For the rest of us, you must send an order form and arrange to pay somehow...
Wonderful Devi! So it seemed we had only N-59 and no Lochkeed.. Now we have three Lockeeds, and no N-59! Someone has ideas of the Northop design?
Dear Skybolt and Devi, could it be the N-59?


It is a flying wing, it is a Navy Bomber, the year is 1950.....

What do you think?
My gut feeling is "Bingo!" From a factual pont of view:
1) If 1950 is real is way too late for the OS-111
2) Only other project suitable in the time frame is N-55, a patrol aircraft but this seems much more a bomber than a patroller
3) The carrier seen in distance doesn't seem a "United States": she has an island, wich CVB-58 hadn't (ok, she had, but it was small and retractable)
4) The carrier looks like a Midway class before the retroftting with an angled deck.
5) We don't know which the Flight's source is, so 1950 could very well be an approximation
6) Almost all discussion on and after OS-111 revolved on the absolutely minum weight aircraft needed for the mission; someone (Douglas) said that 100.000 lbs was excessive, and they could do with less and in this way extend the suitability to the Mdway class. Other probably said that a Midway could well carry a 100.000 lbs aircraft, in smaller number perhaps. So Northop had all the interest to show their aircraft not with a United States (that was easy) but with a Midway

All considered, in my opinion we have it: this is the N-59.
Congratulations fellows. This forum not only rocks, it also rolls... :D
And hats off to Northrop: nice design indeed
Now it gets difficult..

These are enlargement of a well known series of photographs of a model of the USS United States CVB-58 undergoing wave test in a large tank in a Navy research center. Date is early to middel 1948 (the model hasn't the large sponsoons tat were added in aleter stage of the design, the one which is illustrated in te famous artist impression of October 1948 with a complement of Neptunes, Banshees and Phantom Is). The aircraft model represents an interpretation the heavy carrier bomber described in OS-111. The proiblem I present you you is: which and whose interpretation. The model is quite precise and reflect "real" aircraft, at least at a project state (the small plane in front of the bomber in tghe first image are Cutlasses with folded wings).
Some comment: the plane has no podded engines underwing; engine are in all probability in tha wing-roots. Lenght is almost three times the Cutlass, span at least two times. The ball is in your field: anyone? ;)
Uh, source is Norman Friedman, US Carriers, Naval Institute. The entire first photo can be sees in the current number of Navires et Histoire in the Forrestal Class article.


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Hi pometablava.

Can it is correct, but a picture late published.
Talking with Lark we agree about opening a new topic to highlight the importance of that pic courtesy of Mr Tommy H. Thomason.

The Curtiss rival design to the Douglas A-3 Skywarrior.


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Is there anyone who can tell us from what date
the illustration of Curtiss proposal is?
Only mention I've seen;

Ed Heinemann, always weight conscious, strove even harder to keep the aircraft weight well below the 100,000 lb. limit as he was convinced that construction of the super carrier would be canceled as a result of the power struggle between the USAF and USN. The result was soon evident as in mid-1948 Douglas submitted a proposal for a 68,000 lb. (30,844 kg) aircraft capable of operating from Midway-class carriers whilst the Curtiss proposed design weighed close to 100,000 lb. The third competitor, North American, had already dropped out of contention as it did not believe that the Navy's requirements could be met by an aircraft weighing less than 100,000 lb.

Rene Francillon, McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft since 1920, Putnam 1988
Thanks Paul.It's at least a beginning.I overlooked the Putnam book since I was focused
on the Aerograph 5-Aerofax -R.Francillon&Ed.Heinemann.But I could not find any substantial information
about the Curtiss XVA(H1) contender in it.
This is a summary of what I know about it:

The Curtiss and Douglas El Segundo proposals merited additional consideration so the companies were each awarded study contracts in early 1949. The Curtiss design was similar in some ways to the B-47. It had thin, very high aspect ratio wings with a bicycle-type landing gear. The two J40 engines, however, were located at the juncture of the wing and fuselage like those on the Douglas F3D. Like the B-47, lateral support on the ground was provided by outrigger landing gear. With a 40-ft tread, these would have limited its operation to the new super carrier, United States, which provided more distance between the catapult track and the deck edge than the Midway class. Another deficiency was the lack of powered wing folding; a system similar to the unsatisfactory one on the AJ was to be provided. The pilot was seated on the centerline of the fuselage with the other two crewmembers seated side by side behind him. All were provided with ejection seats but the evaluator noted that Curtiss “failed to show a method of protecting each crew member from blast and interference of others when ejected.”
I've always wondered what that was. On the Navy history site, there are illustrations of the USS United States (CVA-58), with a "notional heavy attack bomber" spotted on the flight deck, along with F7U fighters.
Here are the pics in question.


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Thanks gents

For almost 10-years I have been looking for this so-called 100,000Ib Curtiss proposal to this US Navy Request for Proposal, which lost to the Douglas A-3 design!
You have made my day! ;D
Now for the icing on the cake would be a 3-view drawing and specifications :eek:

A happy Pioneer
No specifications, no data, sorry !
I've just used Tophes method for extracting 3-views from perspective pictures
and tried to rectify the perspective distortions by comparison with the very, very
small pictures of the models on the carrier deck. Only details recognisable on the
model are shown, with one exception: The position of nose wheel is taken from
the small models and the main gear is positioned a la B-47.
Trusting in this drawing only at your own risk !


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