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Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States of America
Manufacturer Thomas-Morse Aircraft
Designer B Douglas Thomas
First flight 1922
Number built 1 (MB-9)

The Thomas Morse MB-9 was an experimental American fighter aircraft of the 1920s. It was a single-engined, single-seat parasol winged monoplane, but was unsuccessful, being quickly abandoned.

Design and development[edit | edit source]

In 1921, B. Douglas Thomas, chief designer of Thomas-Morse Aircraft designed two closely related parasol monoplanes, a single seat fighter, the MB-9 and a two-seat trainer, the MB-10. They were of all-metal construction, with corrugated duralumin skinning.[1]

First to be completed was the MB-10, which had tandem cockpits and was designed to be powered by a 200 hp (150 kW) Wright or Lawrance radial engine. In the absence of the intended engine, it was fitted with a 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône 9Ja rotary engine to allow flight testing to start in late 1921. The MB-10's handling proved to be extremely poor,[1] while it also suffered severe vibration and was structurally weak.[2]

The MB-9 fighter was completed early in 1922,[3] differing principally from the MB-10 in the removal of the forward cockpit and the use of a 320 hp (240 kW) Wright Hispano H-3 V8 engine, cooled by a radiator situated (along with the oil tank) in a torpedo-shaped structure under the fuselage.[1] Planned armament was two machine guns; one .50 in (12.7 mm) and one .30 in (7.62 mm).[3]

While the MB.9 handled better than the MB.10,[1] it still suffered from the severe vibration and structural problems that plagued the trainer,[2] together with a weak undercarriage and cooling problems.[1] The development of both aircraft was quickly stopped, with the types not being sent for formal evaluation by the United States Army Air Service at McCook Field.[2]

Variants[edit | edit source]

Single-seat fighter powered by 300 hp (239 kW) Wright Hispano H-3 engine. One built.
Two seat primary trainer aircraft, powered by 110 hp (82 kW) Le Rhône rotary engine. One built.

Specifications (MB-9)[edit | edit source]

Data from The Complete Book of Fighters[3]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)
  • Wingspan: 29 ft 0 in (8.84 m)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright Hispano H-3 water-cooled V8 engine, 320 hp (240 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 170 mph (274 km/h; 148 kn)


  • Guns: 1 × .30 in (7.62 mm) and 1 × .50 in (12.7 mm) machine gun (planned)

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Wegg 1990, p. 27.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Angelucci and Bowers 1987, p. 423.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Green and Swanborough 1994, p. 569.
  • Angelucci, Enzo and Peter Bowers. The American Fighter. Yeovil, UK:Haynes Publishing, 1987. ISBN 0-85429-635-2.
  • Green, William and Gordon Swanborough. The Complete Book of Fighters. New York:Smithmark, 1994. ISBN 0-8317-3939-8.
  • Wegg, John. General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors. London:Putnam, 1990. ISBN 0-85177-833-X.

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