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An artist's conceptual drawing of the Convair XB-53.


The Convair XA-44 / XB-53

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 The Convair XA-44 was the original designation for what was later reclassified as a bomber aircraft with the designation XB-53.The aircraft was to have a 30 forward swept wing with an 8 dihedral. Convair engineers used wing research data captured from Germany in WWII as the basis for the design. The wing was mounted at the far aft portion of the fuselage and also served as the horizontal stabilizer. The design had a conventional vertical stabilizer and rudder, but changes in pitch and roll were accomplished with wing mounted control surfaces. The elevators were on the inboard wing while the ailerons were outboard. The wingtips were also designed as variable incidence control surfaces.

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Convair XA-44

The design called for three General Electric J35 turbojets of 4,000 lbs. thrust each mounted within the fuselage. Estimates indicated as top speed of approximately 580 mph. Classified as a medium bomber, the XB-53 would have carried up to 12,000 lbs. of bombs. It was also designed for 40 High Velocity Aerial Rockets (HVAR) mounted on underwing pylons.

Convair diverted funding initially allotted to the XB-46 program to work on the XA-44/XB-53 project. Two aircraft were ordered (S/N 45-59583/4) but neither aircraft were completed before the XB-53 program was canceled.



Number Built/Converted

Forward swept wing design

  • Serial numbers: 45-59583 and 45-59584 (ordered but not completed)

  • The A-44 was redesignated XB-53

SPECIFICATIONS (as designed)
Span: 80 ft. 7 in.
Length: 79 ft. 6 in.
Height: 23 ft. 8 in.
Weight: 60,000 lbs. (estimated max. takeoff weight)
Armament: 12,000 lbs. of bombs and 40 5" High Velocity Aerial Rockets (HVAR). XA-44 designed for 20 .50-cal. machine guns
Engines: Three turbojets of 4,000 lbs. thrust each
Crew: 4

PERFORMANCE (estimates as designed)
Maximum speed: 580 mph.
Range: 2,000 miles max.
Service Ceiling: 44,000 ft.


More on the XA-46


The XB-46

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The Convair XB-53 Bomber


An artist's conceptual drawing of the Convair XB-53.

The XB-53 was a stillborn jet bomber project by Convair for the USAAF. Originally, it was designated XA-44 in 1945 under the old "attack" category. An unusual forward-swept wing-design powered by three General Electric J35 turbojets, the project was developed in parallel with Convair's XB-46. It would have a German-derived wing with a 30 degree forward-sweep and 8 degrees of dihedral. It looked promising enough at one point that the Army Air Force considered canceling the XB-46 in favor of the XA-44 since there was not enough funding for both. Convair argued for completion of the XB-46 prototype as a flying test bed sans armament and other equipment and substitution of two XA-44s for the other two B-46 airframes on contract. The Air Force ratified this in June 1946 but the project did not progress, nor were additional B-46s built. The XA-44 was re-designated XB-53 in 1948 when the "attack" category was dropped but the project was cancelled before the two prototypes were completed. The XA-44 program was reinstated in February 1949 but only for a short while.


Design Specifications

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3 or 4

  • Length: 79 ft 6 in (24.2 m)

  • Wingspan: 80 ft 7 in (24.6 m)

  • Height: 23 ft 8 in (7.22 m)

  • Wing area: ft (m)

  • Empty weight: lb ()

  • Loaded weight: lb (kg)

  • Maximum Take-Off Weight: 60,000 lb (27,000 kg)

  • Powerplant: 3 General Electric J35 turbojets, 4,000 lbf (18 kN) each

Performance (estimated)

  • Maximum speed: 580 mph (930 km/h)

  • Range: 2,000 mi (3,200 km)

  • Service ceiling: 44,000 ft (13,400 m)

  • Rate of climb: ft/min (m/s)

  • Wing loading: lb/ft (kg/m)


  • Bombs: 12,000 lb (5,400 kg)


  • Andrade, John M. (1979). U.S. Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909. Earl Shilton, Leicester: Midland Counties Publications. ISBN 0-904597-22-9.

  • Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Encyclopedia of U.S. Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems, Volume II - Post-World War II Bombers 1945-1973. Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, USAF. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.

External links



The History Of The XB-53

By Joe Baugher

The Convair XB-53 was a stillborn project for a tactical jet bomber that originated back in 1945. It was to be powered by three J35 turbojet engines buried in the fuselage and fed by two lateral air intakes. The wings were swept forward at an angle of 30 degrees.

The aircraft was originally designated XA-44 (in the attack series), and for a while the USAAF actually considered cancelling the Convair XB-46 four-jet bomber in its entirety in favor of the XA-44. However the contractor firmly believed that a better solution would be for one XB-46 to be built in stripped but flyable condition and to develop two XA-44s in lieu of the two other XB-46s remaining under the contract. The USAAF agreed to this change and the XB-46 contract was reduced from three to one, with the serials of the last two XB-46s (45-59583/59584) being reassigned to the XA-44.

However, USAAF support of the XA-44 did not last long. In December of 1946, the design was converted into a light bomber and the designation was changed to XB-53. However, the XB-53 project was cancelled before anything could be built.



  1. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  2. Post World War II Bombers, Marcelle Size Knaack, Office of Air Force History, 1988.

  3. General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.


The XB-53

The forward swept wing XB-53 was designed by Convair based on German research data captured in WWII. The XB-53 was originally intended as an attack aircraft to be known as the XA-44. The wings would be forward swept at a 30 degree angle with an 8 degree dihedral. The wing, which also functioned as the horizontal stabilizer, was situated at the aft portion of the fuselage. Pitch and roll adjustments were made with wing mounted control surfaces. The XB-53 featured elevators on the inboard wing and ailerons on the outboard. The wingtips also functioned as variable incidence control surfaces. It's turbojet engines were concealed in the fuselage.

The XB-53 had a weight capacity of 60,000 lbs. and a range of 2000 miles. It's three General Electric J35 engines propelled the craft to 580 mph and allowed it to carry up to 12,000 lbs. of bombs.

Funding for the XA-44/XB-53 project originally came from development funds for the XB-46. The Air Force debated canceling the XB-46 altogether but eventually a compromise was struck. Corvair built one stripped down XB-46 and planned on building two XA-44s instead of the XB-46s left on the contract.

Although the two aircraft were ordered (S/N 45-59583/4) the program was scrapped before they could be completed and delivered.


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