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During the 1930s, it became evident that US Navy fighter aircraft were falling behind their US Air Corps and foreign contemporaries in performance and that something had to be done about it.
In 1938, the Navy solicited bids for two types of high performance fighters. The first, a single engine fighter, became the Vought F4U Corsair. The second, a twin engine fighter, became the XF5F-1 Skyrocket. The XF5F-1 would be developed through three distinct versions with both long-nose and short-nose configurations. The twin-engine, twin-tail prototype was overbuilt so as to house ever increasing power plants which were never utilized. A version, the XP-50, was developed for the Army and lessons leaned would be utilized in the superlative F7F Tigercat. Although never put into production, the XF5F-1 aircraft provided valuable aeronautical research until it was stricken on December 11, 1944 after a gear up landing. The Army's XP-50 differed in having tricycle landing gear, extended nose, and turbo-supercharged engines. Unlike the XF5F-1 its life would be short lived. It first flew on February 18, 1941 and crashed on May 14, 1941 due to an in-flight turbo explosion. In June 1941, two follow-on XP-65s were ordered (forerunner of the F7F). That contract was cancelled in January 1942, but the Navy's F7F would fly in November 1943.