Manufacturer: Ryan

Model: unknown

Name: Firescout

Type: Floatplane scout

Date: 1944

Status: Service test

Country: United States of America

Service: U.S. Navy

Designation: XSR-1




While looking at images of the Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk armed scout of 1944, and of the 1945 Ryan FR-1 Fireball jet fighter prototype, I came upon the realization that there may be much more in common between the two than it seems. Simply put, if you remove the jet and wheels from the FR-1 and replace the latter with the former's floats, you get a very plausible Ryan contender for the Seahawk. The more I studied the two designs and the more I wondered if Ryan's Fireball could have been derived from a slightly earlier armed scout proposal that was rejected.

It has always seemed very strange to me that the SC-1 didn't seem to have any competition in prototype form. The war was at its height and development and decision phases must have been shortened as much as possible... aviation companies were more busy producing masses of aircraft for the war effort than developing one-off prototypes... but still! It seems like the Seahawk ought to have been chosen after a flyoff with some other valuable opponents. Not so. 

Hence was born the idea of the Ryan XSR-1 Firescout. A prototype sharing many design characteristics with the XSC-1 (and perhaps other contenders which would have to be imagined) because it answered the same Navy specification, the Firescout makes sense. Its name introduces the "Fire-" prefix for Ryan products and is completely consistent with the company's product history as it is also similar to the name of the last Teledyne Ryan type that was produced before the Northrop take over, the Model 379 Fire Scout UAV rotorcraft.

In profile view, the tail is not that of the FR-1, but rather of the FR-2. I prefered to pick the higher tail design which was more fitting for a floatplane. The canopy should not look as dated as the Curtiss one, but not as modern as the FR-1's drop-shaped one, so I opted for keeping the Fireball's canopy and adding some extra strengtheners. the lower tail, now deprived of an exhaust, narrows towards the end and gets aligned with the lower fuselage in pretty much the same way as on the Seahawk. The part of the fuselage between the engine and the wing is also strengthened.

In plan view, the wings' shape and position are very different of course, but I won't change everything. After hesitating about moving the wings further ahead, like on the Seahawk, I've elected to keep them where they are as a Ryan originality. Just extended them further, widened the front part by adding some span from where the intakes used to be to the wingtips, and square these off a bit, like on the Seahawk (something I'm not yet too sure about, this.) The panelling of the non-foldable parts is simplified since there are now no jet intakes and less armament. The tail is also reshaped to be coherent with the wing's shape.In front view, the wings extend further at the tips, while the tail's horizontal stabilizers are slightly shorter. The jet intakes have disappeared and the guns are fewer. I still have one problem I'm having to solve: should the outer wings (the foldable part) be more slanted, like on the Seahawk, or is the design sound as it is without modifying that point? Obviously, that would demand some extra work on the plastic version if I were to angle them up a little more.

First picture is an imaginary ad. The original photo displayed a Seahawk, and was reworked with a Fireball's fuselage, in turn reworked to match the three-view arrangement. The catchphrase « New "Flying Eye" for the Navy » is taken straight from... a Curtiss Seahawk ad of the era! The pilot is from a Flying magazine article. The Firescout logo is made up of letters taken from another Ryan ad and slanted. The fire image is a clipart I found on Google.

My hope is for this project to eventually lead to a plastic build using an Antares 1:72 Seahawk model and a 1:72 model of the Fireball (if I manage to find one).

Viewers' comments:
  • Love the Firescout! (TBD)
  • a fine idea and very convincing photoshopping. (pyro-manic)
  • Interesting, the jet and related air-intakes have disappeared, the Fireball becoming "normal" (old-style) again... Grin (Tophe)
  • Good idea Stephane! But probably it would be better to leave the original Fireball wing shape (with rounded wingtips) and the original frameless canopy? Now it looks too much like the Seahawk... it was a bit difficult for me to recognize that it isn't the Seahawk smiley . (redstar72)
  • I LOVE IT!!!!!  One thing I'd look at though is the placement of the main float.  I know its lined up with the leading edge of the wing on the SC-1 but you'll notice that it protrudes much further past the nose then you currently have it.  I don't know for certain but I beileve that its placement has to do with the aircraft's center of gravity so that the float basically balances the plane.  On almost all other floatplanes configured that way, its further forward.  Again I don't for sure though, but you might want to play around with it.
    As for the wings, remember that the Fireball was designed with a jet engine and hence higher speeds in mind.  I'd think that the wing was designed with this in mind as well.  Take out the jet engine and its speed changes; enough to change the wing design though?  Another thought, taking out the jet engine will severely lighten the aircraft and alter its center of gravity signifcantly.  I doubt that the floats will offset the weight change and will need to be arranged to balance the aircraft once again.  Not sure what to do about the weight difference though, ballast, more fuel (probabaly), radar, etc...?
    Another idea to consider is to make the aircraft a two-seater.  The floatplanes during the war were considered valuable for being able to rescue other pilots since they were two seaters.  The SC-2 model actually added a small "jump seat" behind the pilot for just this reason.  Might be something you want to add although building it might be a bit tricky unless you add in some plastic or re-use the SC-1's canopy.  Not something that's insurmountable but a challenege none the less. Have you decided on a color scheme yet?  You mentioned that this design would be in contention for the contest at the same time as the SC-1 so how about using the tri-color scheme.  SC-1s entered service in this scheme and some if not most carried it until the end of the war.  Would make for a more visually interesting build in the end than overall GSB, in my opion anyway :D Just my $0.02.  Can't wait to see the build; good luck! (Cliffy B)

My comments:

Thank you so much Cliffy B for the sound advice and kind words! And redstar72, I absolutely agree with you... the Firescout looks too much like a Seahawk now... I have succeeded beyond my expectations! I will definitely give it round wingtips, yes, and probably remove the canopy's additional framing. Perhaps also make the bottom of the tail less round.

Thank you so much to you both for taking the time to comment and suggest!