The Beechcraft XA-38 Grizzly was a twin-engine ground attack and light bomber aircraft. Extremely powerful, this aircraft arrived too late to participate in the final phase of World War II, with only two prototypes completed.
In 1942 the Beechcraft design office was already working on a project for an attack plane, then called the Model 28 Destroyer, drawing on the experience gained with the Beech 18, when the USAAF announced that it was looking for a heavily armed twin-engine attack to succeed the Douglas A-20 Havoc and designed to destroy fortified positions, tanks or ships. The aircraft must be highly manoeuvrable and able to withstand enemy fire. Two prototypes, designated XA-38-BH, were ordered from Beechcraft on 2 December 1942 (Contract AC33348), in competition with the Hughes XA-371. The development of the aircraft is entrusted to Bill Cassidy, assisted by Jess Vint and Alex Odevseff (weapons), Gus Ericson (wings), Bill Irig (flight controls), Mervin Meyers (hydraulic systems), Noel Naidenoff (engines) and Ralph Harmon (landing gear).
Renamed Grizzly during its development, the first XA-38, serial number 43-14406, made its first flight on May 7, 1944 with Vern L. Carstens at the controls and quickly demonstrated its power: 604 km/h, it easily distanced the P-51B used as a companion aircraft. This aircraft, on which the turrets are not installed, is replaced by fairings imitating its shape. After testing the 75 mm gun on the Great Bend proving ground on July 1st 1945, the prototype was handed over to the USAAF at Wright Field on July 7th 1945 for official tests. 38 flights are carried out between October 13 and 24 at Eglin Field, Florida, by Capt Jack Williams, confirming the handling of the twin-engine and its firepower. The second prototype (serial 43-14407) takes the air in its turn, still piloted by Vern L. Carstens, on September 22, 1945. Unfortunately for Beech the war had just ended, but it is in any case unlikely that the Grizzly was mass-produced, the R-3350 engines being reserved for the B-29. The fate of these two prototypes is not well known. It is certain that one copy was transferred to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, in 1948, where it was to be stored while waiting to be taken over by the Air Force Museum. The second was simply scrapped.
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