FR Fireball

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Ryan FR-1 Fireball
Missing image
FR-1 Fireball

Ryan FR-1 Fireball
First FlightJune 25, 1944
Entered ServiceMarch 1945
ManufacturerRyan Aeronautical Company
Length32 ft 4 in12.19 m
Wingspan40 ft 0 in12.19 m
Height13 ft 7¼ in4.15 m
Wing area275 ft²25.6 m²
Empty7,915 lb3590 kg
Loaded10,595 lb4806 kg
Maximum takeofflbkg
EnginesWright R-1820-72W Cyclone radial piston engine
General Electric J31 turbojet
Power1,425 hp 1060 kW
Thrust1,600 lbf7.1 kN
Maximum speed426 mph686 km/h
Combat range1,300 miles2,100 km
Ferry rangemileskm
Service ceiling43,100 ft13,100 m
Rate of climbft/minm/min
Wing loadinglb/ft²kg/m²
Guns4 × .50 cal machine-guns
Bombs2 × 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs
Rockets4 under wings

The Ryan FR Fireball was a composite propeller and jet powered aircraft designed for the United States Navy during World War II. They entered service before the end of the war but did not see combat. The FR-1 Fireball was the US Navy's first aircraft with jet propulsion.

Design began in 1943 to a proposal instigated by Admiral John S. McCain, Sr. for a composite-powered fighter; early jet engines had sluggish acceleration which was considered unsafe and unsuitable for aircraft carrier takeoff and landing. A composite design allowed for conventional piston-powered flight but gave a jet for higher speeds.

Missing image
FR-1 Fireballs in formation with piston engines off

The first prototype flew on June 25, 1944 but it was lost in a crash in October that year. Investigation showed that the wing rivets were insufficiently strong, a problem cured by doubling the number of rivets, but not before the other two prototypes crashed in similar fashion.

Orders for 700 aircraft were placed, but only 66 were delivered before Japan's surrender. One squadron, VF-66, was equipped with the aircraft before war's end, but they never saw combat.

The aircraft were withdrawn fairly soon after the war's end. With the rapid advance in technology, and the removal of the pressing need to get anything into combat quickly, the Navy decided to wait for better aircraft to be developed.

US Navy pilots considered Fireball to be a uniquely poorly chosen name, given its 'fiery accident' connotations.

The FR-1 Fireball was developed into the F2R Dark Shark, which replaced the piston engine with a turboprop, but this never entered service.

One FR-1 Fireball survives at the Planes of Fame Flying Museum, at Chino, California, and it is in the process of restoration to display condition.

Related content
Related Development

F2R Dark Shark

Similar Aircraft
Designation Series

FR Fireball - F2R Dark Shark

Related Lists

List of military aircraft of the United States

Lists of Aircraft | Aircraft manufacturers | Aircraft engines | Aircraft engine manufacturers

Airports | Airlines | Air forces | Aircraft weapons | Missiles | Timeline of aviation


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