Boeing F8B-1 is now available...
After nearly a decade of absence from the Navy register, the name Boeing reappeared when a contract was awarded for their mammoth XF8B-1. The proportions of this machine had been dictated by the Navy's need for a far-ranging carrier fighter capable of delivering a bomb load directly to the Japanese home islands. The requirements indicated that something more than just a fighter would be needed to fit this bill, so provision was made to include a bomber-type internal weapons bay. Two 1,600 pound bombs could be loaded into this compartment, and two more could be carried beneath the wings for a total of 6,400 pounds. Alternately, a pair of 2,000 pound torpedoes could be loaded on the wing racks. Six gun ports in the wings revealed the location of the .50 cal. machine guns on the prototype; but production fighters could use a sextet of 20 mm cannons as alternate armament.
The contract for three prototype XF8B-1's was handed to Boeing on May 4, 1943, but commitments for B-29 Superfortress bombers held development of the fighter to a slow pace. The power source selected was the Pratt & Whitney XR-4360-10 Wasp Major, the world's most powerful piston engine with over 3,000 hp. This engine was connected to a six-bladed contra-rotating Aeroproducts propeller with a thirteen-and-a-half foot diameter. The landing gear rotated and folded flat against the bottom of the wing.
November 27, 1944, was the day the big Boeing fighter first tested the atmosphere; and the XF8B-1 demonstrated a maximum speed of 432 mph at 26,900 feet. With a cruising speed of 162 mph, the bomber-fighter could deliver its load to a target 1,305 miles away in about eight hours. Fortunately, the end of the war precluded the need to consider a mission of such duration for the pilot of a single-seat airplane.