“American Secret Projects: Fighters, Bombers, and Attack Aircraft, 1937-1945” a review

In an era when it can easily take decades for a combat aircraft to mature from computer screen to combat service, it is easy to forget that, within a human lifetime ago, aircraft were being designed, test flown, deployed to combat, and then retired all within the space of a few years. “American Secret Projects: Fighters, Bombers, and Attack Aircraft, 1937-1945” by Tony Buttler and Alan Griffith, covers one of the most dynamic periods in aviation history; in 1937, the US military had just eased into the monoplane era for the most part, yet eight years later tens of thousands of advanced designs (by the standard of the day) had been turned out. And yet there were many, many more designs that appeared on drafting boards and in mock-up form but never made the transition to full scale hardware. This book does a great job at chronicling these “what if” aircraft , with many photos and crisp 3-view drawings. Lots of potential for kitbashing and scratch building subjects here!  Most highly recommended!

Chapter 1: USAAF Single-Engine Fighters
Highlights include:
Bell Model 3&4 P-39 predecessors
3-view and wind tunnel model photo of the original lightweight XP-47 concept.
McDonnell Model 1 with a single engine driving pusher props in separate nacelles.
3-view and model photo of North American’s forward swept wing Mustang proposal.
Fisher XP-75

Chapter 2: USAAF Twin-Engine Fighters
Highlights include:
details of the Hughes D-2/XP-73/XA-37, including perhaps the only photos of the completed aircraft.
Curtiss XP-71 pusher design – including a 3-view of an iteration with swept wings.
Several photos (including one color shot) of the XP-61E escort fighter prototype
Martin 207 Convoy Fighter.

Chapter 3: USAAF Light and Medium Bombers
Highlights include:
Martin Model 179 – essentially a twin-tailed B-26
North American P-442 – essentially a single-tail B-25.
Consolidated LB-26 medium bomber
Douglas Model 9 flying wing

Chapter 4: USAAF Heavy Bombers
Highlights include:
Superfortress ancestors – the Y1B-20, Model 334A and Model 333
Much information on the various Martin XB-33 Super Marauder configurations
B-36 ancestor designs and competing Boeing aircraft
Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing

Chapter 5: USAAF Attack Aircraft
Highlights include:
Douglas DB-10
Curtiss P-241 with elliptical wing and contra-rotating pusher props
3-views and photos of the Kaiser-Fleetwings XA-39 mockup

Chapter 6: US Navy Fighters
Highlights include:
XF6F-1 prototype
Boeing Model 352 and 374 twin-engine designs
Vultee 79A/79C naval versions of the XP-54.
3-views of the Boeing 376/380/387 R-4360 powered fighter designs.
3-view of the Grumman G-67 Tigercat derivative with mixed piston-jet propulsion.

Chapter 7: US Navy Attack Aircraft
Highlights include:
Curtiss XSB3C-1 Helldiver outgrowth
Several pages of high quality photos showing the Douglas Destroyer.
XTB2D-1 and XTB2F torpedo bombers
3-views showing the various Douglas D-557 designs.

Chapter 8: Maritime Patrol Aircraft and Flying Boats
Highlights include:
Art depicting the Vega V-146 predecessor to the P2V Neptune
Several views of the Consolidated Coronado, including a shot of the single-tailed XPB2Y-1 prototype.
Boeing XPBB-1 Sea Ranger

Chapter 9: Miscellaneous Programmes
Vought V-173 and V-315/XF5U-1
A color shot of a USN YP-59A
Lockheed L-133 jet fighter design.


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Aviation Book Reviews – CharlieMikeRomeo