The Grumman XF5F-1 Skyrocket was a one-off prototype built for the US Navy with an unusual configuration. The wing’s leading edge extended forward of the fuselage nose giving it a distinctive look. It was the first twin-engine fighter intended for carrier use.
The story of the Skyrocket began in 1935 when the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) first contemplated a twin-engine carrier fighter. By 1937, they didn’t believe that single-engine airplanes would not be much faster than the Grumman XF4F-2 Wildcat that they had ordered in 1936. They wanted an aircraft that had airspeeds in excess of 300 mph. After rejecting Grumman’s Design 25 along with proposals from Brewster, Curtiss, Lockheed, Seversky and Vought in 1937, they came up with a plan of their own. In 1938, the BuAer presented Design 144 for an experimental aircraft and sent proposals to Bell, Brewster, Curtiss, Grumman and Vought for the aircraft.
Grumman completed the first flight of the XF5F-1 on April 1, 1940. It demonstrated good flight characteristics and reached a maximum speed of 383 mph at 20,000 feet. However, the engine’s oil cooling system proved inadequate, and the aircraft had excessive drag and the landing gear doors did not close properly. Grumman made seventy flights to make corrections before delivering it to the Naval Air Station at Anacostia on February 22, 1941. By the time the corrections had been made, the Vought XF4U-1 was delivering speeds up to 404 mph.