What if North American NA-295
North American’s F-86 Sabre was replaced not long after its Korean War heyday by later supersonic fighters, but the design got something of a reprieve by serving as the basis for the much-altered FJ-4/F-1 Fury for the US Navy. What is little remembered today is that the Fury was almost resurrected itself in the 1960s, as the jumping off point for a new subsonic strike aircraft for deployment to Southeast Asia.
In 1963, the USN issued a requirment for the VA(L) competion for a lightweight attack type with a hefty payload and long range – supersonic performance was not needed, but the Navy wanted to the new type to be in service as soon as possible. Douglas and Vought responded with TF30-powered designs designs derived from the A-4 and F-8 respectively, while Grumman proposed as single-seat version of the A-6 Intruder. North American chose to go back to the Sabre/Fury well one last time, offering the NA-295, a scaled-up FJ-4B with the the TF30 engine, more stores stations, and a radar under the intake.
The Navy ultimately bought the Vought design for service as the A-7 Corsair II, but for this “what if” profile, I hypothesized that the North American aircraft was selected instead, and like the A-7, it would be bought for the US Air Force as well.
American Secret Projects: Bombers, Attack and Anti-Submarine Aircraft 1945 to 1974