Jet-powered flight was an idea whose time seemingly had come during World War II. Germany fielded the Me-262, the UK fielded the Gloster Meteor, and the US introduced the P-80 Shooting Star. But that last was purely land-based. The Navy wanted in on the action.
The problem was that the jet engines of the day didn't provide the quick acceleration needed to launch the air frame off the short flight deck of a Carrier. And so Admiral McCain (father of the future Senator) proposed a solution: why not both a jet and a piston engine?
The Ryan Fireball was the result. It had both a 1300 HP Wright Cyclone propeller engine for takeoff and landing, and a GE turbojet engine. It was perhaps the strangest hybrid of the war. It wasn't that fast - only 400 MPH under jet power left it more than 50 MPH slower than the Mustang. It was lightly armed - four Ma-Deuce Browning .50 caliber machine guns, with 300 rounds each. Not particularly impressive - no faster than the Corsair or Hellcat at more than twice the price.
But it was a jet, and it would take off and land on an aircraft carrier. That wasn't enough. Only 77 were built before the program was canceled. It's a statement of just how invested the economy was in waging that war, that there was money to fund a cockamamie scheme like this - a brute force attempt to bring the jet age to the Pacific Fleet. So much money that the result would be worse than both the current propeller fighters in service at the time. Only one survives.