The XP-55’s Brief History: Uncovering the World’s Most Oddest Aircraft.mina

Unlike more traditional aircraft of the time, the XP-55 defied conventional wisdom by incorporating a 1,275 hp Allison V-12 engine behind the pilot.

The sole remaining Curtiss XP-55, on display at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

In the world of aircraft design, the late 1930s and early 1940s were defined by rapidly expanding technologies and open-mindedness. Aeronautical engineers and operators were reimagining the rules and opening new possibilities in aviation. Trailblazing gear had recently surfaced, and retractable landing gear was gaining popularity. All-metal aircraft construction quickly gained traction as well, replacing fabric-covered frameworks.

As aircraft designs advanced, engineers pushed the limits further. In late 1939, when the Army requested a new fighter that performed better than any existing fighter at a lower price, Curtiss engineers embraced innovation. They responded to the Army’s proposal with a swept-wing design, powered by a 1,275 hp Allison V-12 engine, similar to those used in P-38s, P-40s, and P-51s. Unlike these more conventional aircraft, however, the XP-55 pushed it beyond the pilot and emerged as an aft-mounted pusher propeller.

Curtiss reasoned that the XP-55 would provide many benefits over conventional designs. They claimed the unusual configuration would achieve superior or better speeds, maneuverability, and superior out-of-the-box forward visibility. They also touted the design as advantageous for the pilot, including the superior ground handling characteristics affected by the trickier gear and engine placement that occasionally sparked concerns.


Once the XP-55’s safety-related flight tests started in July 1943, it became apparent that the conventional design issues that the CW-24B had resolved would persist. In addition to insufficient pitch authority on takeoff, the first prototype struggled with in-flight stability – so much so that when a test pilot entered a stall, the aircraft flipped over and entered an unrecoverable, inverted descent. The pilot managed to bail out, but the project was terminated.


Curtiss proceeded to build and fly the second and third prototypes with the second one exhibiting improved flight stability but falling short of performance expectations, and the third undergoing only ground testing. Despite significant modifications to address issues such as poor stall recovery and insufficient engine cooling, the XP-55’s propeller remained a significant challenge, especially when compared to contemporary designs, which were shifting towards rear-propeller-driven fighter aircraft. The XP-55 program was eventually discontinued.

Related Posts

Lav-25A2: Admire the power of the United States Army’s Armed Forces.mina

The LAV-25A2 stands as a unique and indispensable asset within the United States military, holding the distinction of being the sole armored vehicle capable of airdrop deployment….

Breaking through the darkness: MC-130P Combat Shadow

Builder: Lockheed Martin Services: United States Air Force Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprop engines Speed: 289 mph (at sea level) Maximum Takeoff Weight: 155,000 pounds (69,750…

Leonardo AW609: V-22 Osprey descendants

Using the same technology as the V-22 Osprey military aircraft, the AgustaWestland AW609 deserves to be the most modern civilian helicopter in the world. The Tiltrotor VTOL…

the fіɡһteг jet deters рoteпtіаɩ adversaries from engaging in additional Ьаttɩe.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic ЬomЬeг. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades….

The F-16 fіɡһtіпɡ Jet: Mastering the Skies as the Ultimate ргedаtoг

Iп the realm of aerial combat, oпe aircraft staпds tall as the epitome of рoweг aпd domіпапсe: the F-16 fіɡһteг Jet. With its υпrivaled capabilities aпd сᴜttіпɡ-edɡe…

The largest warship ever constructed is the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Gerald R. Ford is intended to be the first of a class of aircraft carriers that offer ѕіɡпіfісапt рeгfoгmапсe improvements over the previous Nimitz class. Introduce USS…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *