Designed under the supervision of J. Kindelberger and A. Raymond, the XFD-l was a two-seat externally-braced fabric-covered metal biplane, powered by a 700 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1535-64 fourteen-cylinder air-cooled radial. Armament consisted of two forward-firing 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine-guns mounted in the engine cowling and one hand-held 0.30 in machine-gun in the rear cockpit.
Completed in January 1933, the aircraft was test flown by Eddie Allen, and subsequently delivered to NAS Anacostia for competitive trials with the Vought XF3U-1, and Service Acceptance Trials took place at Anacostia between 18 June, 1933, and 14 August, 1934. Despite displaying excellent flying characteristics, the Navy had lost interest in the two-seat fighter c1ass and the XFD-l was not proceeded with, and it was returned to Douglas.
Eventually in 1936 the aircraft was fitted with a 750 hp Wright 1820-F53 nine-cylinder radial and offered for export as a two-seat scout bomber. However, the aircraft was by then obsolete as a combat aircraft and, as no customer could be found, was handed over to Pratt & Whitney to be used as an engine test-bed.
Span: 31 ft 6 in (9.60 m)
Length: 25 ft 4 in (7.72 m)
Height: 11 ft 1 in (3.38 m)
Wing area: 295 sq.ft (27.69 sq.m)
Weight empty: 3,227 lb (1,464 kg)
Max T/O weight: 5,000 lb (2,268 kg)
Max speed: 208 mph (335 kmh) at 8,000 ft (2,440 m)
Cruise speed: 170 mph (274 kmh)
Service ceiling: 23,700 ft (7,225 m)
Climb: to 5,000 ft (l,524 m) 3.3 min
Range: 576 miles (927 km)."