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Rockwell XFV-12

The Rockwell XFV-12 was an American prototype of a supersonic carrier based VTOL (Vertical Take-off and Landing) fighter, promising on the paper, the XFV-12 proved as a failure in the practice, being rejected in favor of the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier.


The XFV-12 aircraft was a proposed Rockwell International design to a United States Navy requirement for a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft system. Though a promising concept from the beginning, the XFV-12 was tested in extremely limited circumstances and proved to be a failure by the early 1980s. The XFV-12 system was later dropped by the United States Navy, citing rising costs for the program. Official cancellation was ordered in 1981, to which the project just had a single prototype model to show for it, with a second one under construction.

Externally, the XFV-12 was an impressive-looking aircraft. Interestingly enough, the system featured the nose assembly of the A-4 Skyhawk fighter and the engine intake systems of the F-4 Phantom II fighter to help in keeping developmental costs down. Nevertheless, this was actually a marriage of designs that fit well together, producing a design similar to that of the British Harrier VTOL series. One of the most identifiable portions of the design was the wing development which featured a distinct rear-set assembly and forward canards. The large wing area was utilized fully for the thrust augmented concept, to which thrust could be delivered through openings in the wings and canards.

Featuring a single Pratt & Whitney F401-PW-400 afterburning turbofan engine, the XFV-12 had more than enough power to lift itself. However, the complicated internal components, particularly in the extensive use of ductwork to funnel the thrust in vertical flight, were found to lessen the expected thrust capability substantially resulting in less-than-expected performance. Armament was to consist of a single 20mm gatling cannon as well as a mix of air-to-air missile systems in the form of the AIM-7 Sparrow and AIM-9 Sidewinder series. Because of the nature of the VTOL internal workings, the armament positioning would be restricted to a few hardpoints - none underwing - all located along the fuselage.


General Characteristics

  • Crew: 1

    Side view of the XFV-12

  • Length: 43 ft 10 in (13.4 m)
  • Wingspan: 28 ft 6 in (8.7 m)
  • Height: 10 ft (3.15m)
  • Empty weight: 13,800 lb (6,259 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 19,500 lb (8,850 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 24,250 lb (11,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1× Pratt & Whitney F401-PW-400 afterburning turbofan
    • Dry thrust: lbf (kW)
    • Thrust with afterburner: 30,000 lbf (kW)


  • Maximum speed: Mach 2.2-2.4
  • Thrust/weight: 1.5


See also

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