Development of the F9B Hornet I

During the Second World War Boeing had to stand by and watch Grumman get all the US Navy contracts for fighter aircraft. The last operational Boeing fighter for the US Navy was the F4B from from 1929.

In 1941 Grumman began with the development of a new twin engined fighter aircraft for the US Navy which was to emerge as the F7F Tigercat. Boeing was working on the XF8B fighter at the moment but had no direct competitor for the Tigercat. In an attempt to bid on the F7F contract, Boeing looked to foreign manufacturers to get an aircraft which could compete with the Tigercat.

During a visit to Great Britain in 1944 a Boeing delegation visited De Havilland and saw the prototype DH-103 Hornet under construction. Their enthusiasm for this sleek fighter was great and talk began at once for the licence production of the DH-103 in the USA.

Boeing received two British prototype aircraft from De Havilland and they were submitted to the US Navy as the XF9B-1. The US Navy was impressed with the performance of the British fighter and ordered 100 production aircraft as the F9B-1 Hornet in January 1945. Production started in March and the first US produced Hornets were delivered to the US Navy in November 1945. After crew training they were first used in combat against the Japanese in the battle of Hokkaido in April 1946. Crews were enthusiastic about the handling and firepower of the Hornet.

The F9B-1 was followed by the F9B-2 fighter-bomber with provisions for under wing bomb racks or a torpedo carried under the fuselage.

Boeing also designed a radial engined F9B-3 version but the US Navy showed no interest and no prototype was built.

The operational career of the Hornet was not very long. The advent of the jet age meant that the Hornets were phased out of frontline duties during the mid 1950's and replaced by jet fighters.

The model

This is the Classic Airframe model of the Hornet in 1/48. Decals are from the spares box.

Last updated: 14/03/2009