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Convair Model 49

Convair Model 49

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 propulsion.

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 impressive, Lockeed 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.

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Convair Model 49
Convair Model 49
Convair Model 49

Convair Model 49
Convair Model 49

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