No. 4889. General Aviation 17 XA-7 (30-226) US Army Air Corps
Photograph from USAF
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 1748

General Aviation 17 XA-7

09/30/2011. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Dutchman Antony Fokker formed the Atlantic Aircraft Corporation at Hasbrouck Heights airfield, Teterboro, New Jersey, USA in May 1924, this was renamed the Fokker Aircraft Corporation on September 16, 1925. In May 1929 the General Motors Corporation acquired 40% of the shares of the Fokker Aircraft Corporation, while Fokker himself still owned 10%.

Ordered by the USAAC in December 1929 as the XA-7, the Fokker Model 17 was perhaps the most beautiful and certainly the first all-metal American Fokker-design. While the prototype was constructed, the company was renamed General Aviation Corporation in May 1930. The XA-7 was the first USAAC aircraft designed from scratch for the attack role, rather than being converted from an existing type.

The experimental all-metal aircraft had internally braced wings and the streamlined fuselage seated two crew in open tandem cockpits. Initially it had a fixed undercarriage with large wheel pants.

Armament consisted of four forward firing 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns, one flexible 0.30 in machine gun for the gunner-observer in the aft cockpit, while also up to four 122 lb (55 kg) bombs could be carried on wing racks. Powerplant was a 600 hp Curtiss G1V-1570C Conqueror twelve-cylinder liquid-cooled V-engine.

Fokker regarded the XA-7 as one of the biggest problem cases he had known at the Hasbrouck Heights factory. In the United States it had been Fokker's practice first to built a new plane before offering it to potential buyers. In contrast, the XA-7 military engineers from the outset overlooked the work of the designers and builders. Other problems were related to the all-metal construction, which, despite his earlier experiments, Fokker still had not mastered.

Serialed 30-226, the XA-7 was first flown in January 1931, six months before his great rival, the Curtiss XA-8. It was delivered to Wright Field the following April and tested for several months. In the summer of 1931 the XA-7 was returned to the factory for a major conversion: the nose was completely revised, the landing gear pants were replaced by spats, while also the cockpit windows where changed.

In its revised form the XA-7 was returned to Wright Field, where it started competitive flight test against the Curtiss XA-8. Although Fokker's XA-7 was technically more advanced, the Curtiss XA-8 showed an overall better flight performance. Hence the USAAC opted for the Curtiss product, of which thirteen copies were ordered in September 1931. The development of the XA-7 was halted and it was subsequently scrapped."

Created December 31, 2005