Willis JA-3 Jet/Rocket "Chain Lightning"


Dreams To Reality
2 March 2008
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Searching for any information, drawings, photo’s on the hypothetical “JA-3” experimental Jet/Rocket featured in the 1950 Bogart movie "Chain Lightning". Supersonic jet/rocket appears to be based on the Bell X-1 nose. Conflicting information some claim it was jet powered other sources rocket. I am not able to discern any inlets on the fuselage. Main feature was the unique escape pod concept put forth in the movie.

Original JA-3 model from the movie sold here:


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Thanks Stargazer... watched the movie today, felt like I was six years old again witnessing the dawn of the jet age...priceless. One of those had to have been there in the moment to understand and appreciate how corny old movies like this inspired the young imagination back in the fifties. All I needed was a cardboard box and I was off into the wild blue flying hot jets and rockets. The JA-3 is a classic design t somewhat resembles the F-16.
airrocket said:
somewhat resembles the F-16.

??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ??? ???

Honestly I can't see a hint of likeness! But, hey! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... LOL

To me the JA-3 echoes Republic designs such as the Thunderstreak and Thunderceptor... with a hint of Bell X-1 for the nose of course... :)
Loved the movie. Bought the VHS version awhile back and they had it on either FOX or TCM so I have it on DVD now.

As for inlets to the motor I believe that they are sadly lacking since it probably added to the cost of the model and the full size replica LOL!!!

I've been thinking of making a model of this (in a smaller scale) for something different to wow the guys at my model club and have been searching for additional reference online without any luck so I gotta say thanks for leading me to these pictures.

I'm trying to locate the original model and full scale version of the JA-3 that were used in Chain Lightning 1950 by Warner Brothers. Where did the model go after the liveauctioneers purchase on Dec 30, 2009. What happened to the full size JA-3 (Prop) model and where are they both now. Any help would be appreciated.
Are we quite sure that the Willis JA-3 wasn't a real project? I note that the folks at airwar.ru have included the JA-3 in their 'Experimental' section ... ;)

After the end of World War II, the American company Willis Aircraft Corporation began working on an experimental aircraft designed to break the sound barrier. The vehicle was designated JA-3.

During a test flight on September 27, 1946, the JA-3 crashed. The test pilot, retired US Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Matthew Brennan, Matthew "Matt" Brennan, died in the crash.

Despite this, the car was restored, but no more attempts were made to overcome the speed of sound. In 1950, the JA-3 was used in the 1950 film Chain Lightning starring Humphrey Bogart.

-- http://www.airwar.ru/enc/xplane/ja3.html
For those who are sufficiently interested and who can afford this expense, a model (11.5 inches) is available on ebay, at $258.88 + $95 shipping...



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Perhaps an unfortunate coincidence, but the Lockheed XP-58 'Chain Lightning' also had an excess of 'Ooops'.

XP-58 being yet another design that tried to improve a very nice aircraft, but manage to ruin the good features of base model...
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