Bell XFM-1 'Airacuda'
|  Base model:||FM|
|  Designation System:||U.S. Air Force|
|  Designation Period:||1936-1941|
|  Basic role:||Fighter, Multiplace|
Known serial numbers
Recent comments by our visitors
| Ed Moseley|
| My fathew-in-law, Sgt. Hazen Eugene Carlson was a crew chief and a flight mechanic while this plane was being tested. He told me that, as stated, it had an electrical geneator which ran off of ONE of the engines. This generator among other things powered the landing gear system.
He said that they went on a test flight one day and the engine that had the geneator, quit. Because of that, they could not extend the landing gear and were forced to belly land in a farmers field.
Hazen is now 91 and in very poor health, so there is no hope of getting any more information on this.
Do you have photos of this type of aircraft in a maintenance hanger ? Other than those taken in a hanger, I think we have the same ones. I don't know what airfield he was in at at the time.
Ed Moseley 4:04 am Sun. Jly 22, 2007
07/22/2007 @ 00:51 [ref: 17225]
| Ken Keisel|
| The Bell XFM-1 Airacuda (sometimes called YFM-1) was the first military aircraft produced by the Bell Corporation, and was their answer to the need for a "Destroyer" type aircraft. Thirteen were ultimately produced in two slightly different versions. The first version was a tail dragger with side "blister" ports and a smooth, rounded canaopy. The second version, designated YFM-1A was slightly larger, had more powerful engines, used a tricycle landing gear, smooth side windows, and a rather flattened canopy. Three YFM-1A were produced. The earlier YFM-1 is the better known version and was a bit more appealing design.
The type was plagued with problems from the start. The 37mm cannon had a tendency to fill the gun nacelles with smoke whenever fired. The Allison engines, though relatively trouble free in other types, were so prone to overheating on the ground that the aircraft could only be started when it was able to immidately takeoff. Even in the air it was not uncommon to experience overheating, and towards the end of its operational life the aircraft were only flown for photo ops, and always accompanied by a chase plane for safety. Flight testing proved the plane impossible to control on one engine, resulting in an immidate spin. Crews were encouraged to immidately bail out in the event of an engine failure. Lastly, this was one of the only aircraft ever built to rely on an indipendent generator to power both the fuel pumps and electrical systems. The generator was located in the belly of the aircraft, and in the event of its failure the crew was instructed to begin immidate emergency restart procedures while the rest of the aircraft basically shut down. Not a pleasent position to be in.
Despite these problems one fully operational squadron of Airacuda was assembeled and operated from an airbase in the southern US for over two years. Finally, in late 1939 the entire production was stricken from inventory, and all 13 aircraft we sent to a training base outside Chicago where they were used for aircraft maintenence instruction. All were scrapped before the end of WWII.
06/17/2004 @ 20:36 [ref: 7634]
| Bogdan ATAMAN|
| From the history of Bell FM-1 Airacuda design I know that there was the second project of fighter multiplace category : Kelly Johnson's Lockheed XFM-2 ( by USAAC first designated XFM-1 !!! ). I'm looking for any information and if possible drawings of this never built aircraft.
Greetings from Poland
04/26/2004 @ 01:06 [ref: 7304]
| Bob Tillotson|
| The March 2002 issue of AVIATION HISTORY has a story on the Aircuda. I used to work at Bell Aircraft (long after WW II)
and lived on Grand Island, NY a few houses away from Bob Wood's old home.
03/18/2002 @ 13:54 [ref: 4527]
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