The Convair Model 49 was an ambitious proposal for a transforming,
heavily-armed, fire-support aircraft for the US Army. It was intended
to be versatile, rugged and quick-to-deploy, but with the ability
to loiter or hover above the battle zone ready for action.
The 1960s brief which spawned the Convair Model 49 was called the
Advance Aerial Fire Support System (AAFSS). Convair's design was a
'tail-sitter' aircraft - like the earlier Convair
XFY-1 POGO prototype. It featured a two-man cockpit which was
attached to the fuselage by a pivot joint able to tilt the cockpit
through 90 degrees. The circular, or annular, wing featured two large
ducted fan propellers in the center to provide both lift and forward
The idea was that the aircraft could take off like a helicopter, rotate
forwards 90 degrees and transform into an airplane while in transit
to its destination, and then convert back into helicopter mode to
provide fire-support from the air.
The Convair Model 49 was to be heavily armed. The proposed weaponry
included a 30mm automatic cannon with 1000 rounds - or alternativley
a WASP rocket launcher, two remotely-controlled light machine gun
turrets with 12,000 rounds, grenade launchers, and hard points for
mounting a variety of larger weapons including TOW missiles or even
a 106mm recoiless gun.
The thick steel armour encasing the Model 49 would be able to withstand
most light weapons, although it had no defenses against missiles or
larger caliber weapons.
In the end the overly-complicated Convair Model 49 (of which only
scale models were made for flight testing) was a victim of its own
ingenuity, and lost out to the slightly more conventional, but equally
AH-56 Cheyenne for the AAFSS contract. Although later the US Army
rejected both designs and went with the AH-64
Apache for their close fire-support needs instead.