The U.S. Navy's first jet aircraft, Ryan's FR-1 Fireball, was unusual in that it was powered by a jet and a piston engine. It was anticipated that the piston engine would be used for long-range cruise, the jet for combat.
The FR-1 flew for the first time on 25 June 1944, but difficulties soon arose. All three Fireball prototypes were lost due to wing failure. The number of rivets on the wings was doubled and the problem was solved.
The Navy ordered 700 Fireballs, but World War II ended before the FR-1 saw combat and the contract was slashed to 66 aircraft. Only one squadron, VF-66, was equipped with FR-1s. Pure jet aircraft like the F2H Banshee and F9F Panther offered superior performance and the FR-1 was withdrawn from service in 1947. A turboprop version, the F2R Dark Shark, was not put into production.
Planes of Fame Air Museum's Fireball was rescued from oblivion at a technical school in San Luis Obispo, CA,
Planes of Fame's FR-1 Fireball is the sole surviving example of its type in the world.
Status: Static Display
Manufacturer: Ryan Aviation
Model: FR-1 Fireball
Serial Number: 39657
Max T/O Weight: 10,595 lb.
Span: 40 ft. 0 in.
Length: 32 ft. 4 in.
Height: 13 ft. 7 in.
Maximum Speed: 426 mph
Cruise Speed: 153 mph
Rate of Climb: 29.7 ft/min (piston engine only)
Power Plant: 1 x GE J-31 turbojet with 1,600 lbs. thrust and 1 x Wright R-1820-72W radial engine of 1,425 hp.
Range: 1,030 miles
Service Ceiling: 43.100 ft.
Armament: Four 0.50 caliber machine guns and provisions for bombs and missiles