The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket was a prototype twin-engined fighter interceptor designed for carrier use by the U.S. Navy. The Navy ordered just one example in 1938, and two years later it flew for the very first time. The XF5F Skyrocket was unconventional in its design. Mainly because the fuselage began just behind the leading edge of the wing. It almost looks like it’s somehow accidentally slipped backwards. This unusual feature, coupled with the fact the there was no single, central engine meant the pilot had extremely good forward vision. Which helped immensely when maneuvering on the carrier deck.
The GrummannXF5F Skyrocket was modified several times during its first year. Cooling problems were resolved, the cockpit canopy was revised, the original armament of two cannons was replaced with four machine guns, and most obvious of all was an extention of the fuselage forward of the wing.
The Grumman XF5F Skyrocket was highly praised by test pilots for both performance and handling. In 1941 the aircraft went head-to-head against eight of the best fighter aircraft of the time in an effort to establish which aircraft should be chosen for carrier duty. Lieutenant Commander Crommelin, the officer in charge of the test, stated years later that the XF5F was the best aircraft by a significant margin. However the military had already settled on the Grumman F4F Wildcat as their choice. Part of their decision was based on the fact spare parts and maintenance of the twin-engined XF5F would have been more difficult.
The solitary XF5F Skyrocket prototype continued to fly until 11th December 1944, when it made an emergency belly landing rendering it unairworthy. Although the XF5F might not have made it to production itself, it helped contribute to the development of the Grumman F7F Tigercat, the first twin-engined fighter aircraft to enter service with the U.S. Navy.