The Convair F2Y Sea Dart was a unique American seaplane fighter aircraft that rode on twin hydro-skis for takeoff. It flew only as a prototype, and never entered production. It is the only seaplane aircraft to have exceeded the speed of sound.
Convair F2Y Sea Dart History :
In the late 1940s, the US Navy was ordering subsonic jet fighters. The prospect of using supersonic aircraft on carriers brought skepticism with their long takeoff rolls required , high speed approaches, and instability issues. These troublesome factors for a carrier could be avoided if the aircraft could take off and land on water. When the Navy held a contest for a supersonic interceptor aircraft in 1948, Convair company responded with the Sea Dart design. Convair aircraft manufacturing company received an order for two prototypes on January 19, 1951. The prototypes were assigned XF2Y-1. Since the Navy was confident, twelve production aircraft were ordered on August 28, 1952, before a prototype had even flown.
Though the plan was to arm the military aircraft with four 20mm cannons and folding-fin rockets, not one was ever fitted with armament. Four aircraft from this order were deemed as service test vehicles and designated YF2Y-1. Another eight aircraft were ordered bringing the total to 22: two XF2Y-1 prototypes, four YF2Y-1 service test aircraft, and sixteen F2Y-1 production Sea Darts.
Convair F2Y Sea Dart Design :
The aircraft was to be a delta-winged fighter with a watertight hull and twin retractable hydro-skis for takeoff and landing. When stationary or moving slowly in the water, the Sea Dart floated with the trailing edge of the wings touching the water. The skis were not extended until the aircraft reached about 10 mph (16 km/h) during its takeoff run.
Power was to be a pair of after burning Westinghouse XJ46-WE-02 turbojets, fed from intakes mounted high above the wings to avoid ingesting spray. When these engines were not ready for the prototypes, twin Westinghouse J34-WE-32 engines of just over half the power were installed.
Convair F2Y Sea Dart Ski Configurations :
The prototype was fitted with an experimental single ski, which proved more successful than the twin-ski design of the second service test aircraft. Testing with several other experimental ski configurations continued with the prototype through 1957, after which it was placed into storage. The aerodynamic stability of the long, narrow, single-surface ski did not go unnoticed by aircraft designers, leading to the placement of a speed brake of similar configuration on the top of the McDonnell Douglas F-15 fighter. The US was not the only country to consider the hydroski. The Saunders-Roe company of the United Kingdom, which had already built an experimental flying-boat jet fighter, the SR.A/1, tendered a design for a ski equipped fighter but little came of it.
Convair F2Y Sea Dart Submarine carriage :
In the 1950s, the US Navy considered the internal arrangements of a submarine that could carry three of these aircraft. The Sea Dart would be stored in pressure chambers that would not protrude from the hull, they would be raised by a port side elevator just aft the sail and set to take off on their own on a smooth sea but catapulted aft in a higher sea. The program only reached the “writing on a napkin” stage, the two main problems were not addressed: the hole for the elevator would have seriously weakened the hull and the load of a laden elevator would also be difficult to transmit to the hull structure.
- Crew: 1
- Length: 52 ft 7 in (16 m)
- Wingspan: 33 ft 8 in (10.3 m)
- Wing area: 568 ft² (53 m²)
- Powerplant: 2 × Westinghouse J46-WE-2 turbojets
- Maximum speed: 825 mph (1,325 km/h)
- Range: 513 mi (446 nm, 826 km)
- Service ceiling: 54,800 ft (16,700 m)
- Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon
- Missiles: 2 × air-to-air missiles