This time, an aircraft of my own design, intended to be to-scale with the earlier models--yes, it's just that small.
About this creation
Zephyros' Air Force was outdated. Still flying in open-cockpit aircraft at the start of the war, even as Esthen was introducing the new Misawa FB. 1, a closed-cockpit, retractable landing gear divebomber. Zephyrian Aircraft Factory, Zephyros' sole aircraft manufacturer at the time, began the development of Zephyros' first closed-cockpit, low-wing, cantilever monoplane: a divebomber of Zephyros' own, the XA-1. To be powered by a radial engine--a type of engine that Zephyros had not used in any aircraft prior--and to carry at least 500lbs of explosives, the XA-1 was meant to attack Esthenian shipping, including Esthen's newly-introduced aircraft carriers.
The initial prototype was built with only one seat for the pilot, and with a more conventional in-line engine as no radial engines had been mass-produced in Zephyros at the time.
A new, radical innovation of the XA-1 was a "trapeze" bomb rack, making it easier for the bomb to clear the propeller and thus allowing the XA-1 to dive at a much steeper angle than the contemporary Misawa FB. 1. A new bomb was developed specifically for the A-1, with dummy versions of it used with the XA-1 prototype for testing the new bomb rack.
A rotary engine, designated XR1, was installed into the second prototype; the second prototype was rushed to completion, resulting in it initially using the wings and empennage of a P-4 Hawk. The XR1 was later modified to function akin to a radial engine to test that configuration, being redesignated XR1-B, but was found to be inadequate, owing to severe cooling issues--during the one test flight the second XA-1 had, the XR1-B overheated and the XA-1 was immediately landed.
The XR1-B was reverted back to the initial XR1 configuration, and both it and the wings and empennage were removed from the second prototype, with a superior but still unreliable radial engine designated XR2 being installed in the first prototype. The second prototype was then rebuilt to the first prototype's new specifications.
For defense, the A-1 was to be armed with 2x .30 caliber (7.62mm) machine guns synchronized to the propeller; light armament by that time, but standard on Zephyrian aircraft, with even early models of the P-4 having identical armament.
A unique feature of the XA-1 was its tailplane; each horizontal stabilizer was built in a roughly trapezoidal shape, whereas contemporary Zephyrian designs had rounded tailplanes.
The XA-1 was ordered into production shortly after the two prototypes were converted to use the R2 Radial, despite the R2's teething problems, which led to early A-1s having frequent mechanical issues.