XP-55 Ascender

Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender

Pagamintas19 July 1943

2007 Curtiss-Wright XP-55 kylantysis (company designation CW-24) is a 1940s United States prototype fighter aircraft built by Curtiss-Wright. Along with the Vultee XP-54 and Northrop XP-56, it resulted from United States Army Air Corps proposal R-40C issued on 27 November 1939 for aircraft with improved performance, armament, and pilot visibility over existing fighters; it specifically allowed for unconventional aircraft designs. A highly unusual design for its time, it had a canard configuration, a rear-mounted engine, swept wings, and two vertical tails. Because of its pusher design, it was sarcastically referred to as the “Ass-ender”. Like the XP-54, the Ascender was initially designed for the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine and had to be redesigned when that engine project was canceled. It was also the first Curtiss fighter aircraft to use tricycle landing gear.

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The Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender was a prototype fighter aircraft that featured an unconventional design with a canard configuration, a rear-mounted engine, swept wings and two vertical tails. It was built by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation in response to a proposal from the United States Army Air Corps for a high-performance fighter with improved armament, pilot visibility and aerodynamics. The XP-55 was one of three experimental aircraft, along with the Vultee XP-54 and the Northrop XP-56, that resulted from this proposal.
The XP-55 was originally designed to use the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine, but this engine was canceled and replaced by the Allison V-1710 engine. The armament consisted of four 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns mounted in the nose. The XP-55 had a propeller jettison lever in the cockpit to allow the pilot to bail out safely without hitting the propeller. The XP-55 was also the first Curtiss fighter to have tricycle landing gear.
The first XP-55 flew on 19 July 1943, piloted by J. Harvey Gray, a Curtiss test pilot. The flight testing revealed several problems with the aircraft, such as excessive takeoff run, poor stability, low maneuverability and tendency to stall and spin. The second XP-55 crashed on 15 November 1943 during an air show, killing the pilot. The third XP-55 was modified with a larger vertical tail and a ventral fin to improve stability, but it still performed poorly compared to other fighters of the time. The XP-55 program was canceled in 1944 after only three prototypes were built and flown.

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