The XA-38 Grizzly was an experimental late-war American ground attacker design, that was intended to replace the aging A-20 Havoc. Although it was a promising design, a shift in priorities in the later stages of the war caused the project to ultimately be cancelled. Though the Grizzly never got the chance to show his sharp claws to the enemy in real combat, he will get a second chance to prove himself with War Thunder pilots in the upcoming 1.71 update!
Development of the XA-38 Grizzly began in December 1942, when the United States Army Air Force signed a contract with the Beech Aircraft company to build two prototypes of their Model 28 “Destroyer”, as a potential replacement for the aging A-20 Havoc ground attack aircraft. Though the Havoc had proven itself to be a reliable and effective aircraft in the early years of WW2, it struggled to effectively take on heavily armoured targets later on, in turn signaling that it was ready to be replaced. Thus, following the core design concept of the Havoc, the Beech Aircraft company developed a fast, twin-engined aircraft, armed with a 75mm cannon, capable of destroying tough targets like tanks and concrete fortifications. The first prototype flew in May 1944, showing excellent performance. In fact, the Grizzly was entirely capable of outspeeding certain contemporary single-engine aircraft, thanks to the outstanding performance of the two Wright R-3350 engines it was equipped with.
Despite the promising first test results, the project’s fate looked grim after the engines that the XA-38 used, the Wright R-3350, were reserved for exclusive use on the new B-29 Superfortress. With serial production now being impossible, and no other comparably powerful engine available, the XA-38 Grizzly project was shortly afterwards cancelled. After the project’s cancellation, one prototype was scrapped, whilst the fate of the other remains unknown.
In War Thunder, the XA-38 Grizzly will find itself destroying ground targets on the battlefields from the intermediate ranks of the US air forces research trees. Its nose-mounted 75mm T15E1 cannon features comparable ballistic properties to the 75mm cannon mounted on the PBJ-1H, that some pilots may already have flown out into combat. Its armour piercing shells have a good penetrating power, capable to slice through the armour of most medium and some heavy tanks at its rank. Unlike the PBJ-1H, the Grizzly is faster, smaller and far less cumbersome, making it an excellent choice for close air support in combined battles. However, as the 75mm cannon is limited to just 20 rounds, the Grizzly can also be equipped with additional bombs of various sizes, thanks to the external wing pylons.
If four Wright R-3350 2,300 horsepower engine are able to power a shining aluminum giant, flying high above the clouds, then what could just two achieve on an aircraft half the size of the legendary B-29? As you could guess, quite a lot! Being equipped with a pair of one of the most powerful late war radial engines American engineers could get their hands on, the XA-38 Grizzly is able to achieve a maximum speed of just under 600 km/h (373 mph) on low to medium altitudes. Such high speeds allow the Grizzly to not only perform lightning fast strike runs on enemy targets, but to also quickly fall back to friendly lines, should the airspace above the combat zone become too crowded. Should an enemy fighter manage to catch up or surprise the Grizzly, players will have access to its second line of defence – the dorsal and ventral remote-controlled twin 12.7mm turret, operated by the gunner. The turrets feature excellent controllability and cover the most common angles of attack, leaving the aircraft’s rear hemisphere well protected.
The XA-38 Grizzly eagerly awaits the release of the upcoming 1.71 update, so it can finally receive the chance to show what it’s truly capable of.