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Posted 12/31/2008 Printable Fact Sheet
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Brewster XA-32 Cockpit
Cockpit of Brewster XA-32 (S/N 41-13568). Note the nose of the B-17 and tail of the B-24 out the left side window. (U.S. Air Force photo)
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The Brewster XA-32 was developed in response to an Air Corps requirement for a large single-engine dive bomber/ground attack aircraft carrying just the pilot. The success of German dive bombers during the early Blitzkrieg campaigns in 1939 and 1940 convinced the United States of the need to develop and test dive bombers of its own. The development of the XA-32 was relatively slow and took more than a year to progress from mock up (spring/summer 1942) to first flight (spring 1943).

The aircraft featured eight forward firing .50-cal. machine guns (four in each wing) and a 3,000-pound maximum bomb load. Each wing had a hardpoint capable of supporting one 1,000-pound bomb, and an internal bomb bay could handle up to 1,000 pounds of bombs. The aircraft was powered by a 2,100-hp Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp radial engine, turning a large four blade propeller with a large spinner. The wing was mounted at mid-fuselage to allow room for the internal bomb bay. A wide stance inward retracting landing gear was also necessary because of the bomb bay, but resulted in good ground handling characteristics. The vertical stabilizer was relatively small and the horizontal stabilizer was mounted at the midpoint of the vertical stabilizer. The mock up had a more conventional tail assembly, but this was changed before the prototype was built.

The XA-32 performed poorly in its flight evaluation. The aircraft was heavy and underpowered. The XA-32 had a cruising speed of less than 200 miles per hour and a small combat range of 500 miles. The North American A-36A Apache was selected by the Air Corps to fill the ground attack/dive bomber role and served adequately from mid-1943 into 1944, primarily in North Africa, the Mediterranean and India. The XA-32 never progressed past the prototype development phase; however, the second aircraft built was retrofitted with four 20mm cannons in place of the .50-cal. machine guns and tested as the XA-32A.

Type Number built/
XA-32 2 Large one man dive bomber

Armament: Eight .50-cal. machine guns, plus provisions for up to 3,000 lbs. of bombs (1,000 lbs. in an internal fuselage bomb bay and up to one 1,000 lbs. bomb on each wing)
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-37 of 2,100 hp
Maximum speed: 311 mph
Cruising speed: 196 mph
Range: 500 miles (with combat load)
Span: 45 ft. 1 in.
Length: 40 ft. 7 in.
Weight: Approx. 13,500 lbs.
Crew: One (pilot)
Serial numbers: 42-13568 and 42-13569

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