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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The short life of the first Cutlass XF7U-1 122472

Here is a photo of XF7U-1 122472 on the ramp prior to the application of the last three of the BuNo to the verticals. The photo is probably taken prior to the first flight. Test pilot Robert Baker took her up on the first flight September 28, 1948. Note the date.

From the flight test report "After a series of high speed taxi tests the aircraft was flown once around the airport while the wind conditions were still favorable. The flight was not very extensive due to an overcast at 8000 feet. Handling qualities appeared normal and satisfactory."

The aircraft was lost in a take off accident at Ardmore, OK on September 28, 1949 with test pilot Paul Thayer at the controls. This was flight number 132 for the aircraft.

According to the flight test report 'The purpose of this flight was to have been a further investigation into the high Mach number characteristics of the airplane with differential rudders, two external stores pylons, and with a dummy tank installed on the right hand pylon, The investigation was to be done above 20,000 feet with the afterburners "on"."

"The aircraft was observed to yaw slowly to the left and slowly drop the left wing. The aircraft hit the ground with the landing gear partially retracted and skidded to a stop with extensive damage. The pilot was not injured and no fire developed." (Chance Vought Report 7707 Investigation Of Accident -  XF7U-1 Airplane, BU. No. 122472 On 28 September 1949, page 3)

After an extensive investigation the following summary was provided in the same report on page 12.
"To summarize, the accident is concluded to be the result of a stall either directly or in the process of application of corrective action to the yaw and roll occasioned by low direction stability and late application of corrective action of the rudder and aileron. In the latter case, the low directional stability and the type of corrective action take are contributing factors to the accident."

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