The Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender (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.
The Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender (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. An 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 designed for the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine, but was re-designed after that engine project was canceled. It was also the first Curtiss fighter aircraft to use tricycle landing gear.
June 1940, the Curtiss-Wright company received an Army contract for preliminary engineering data and a powered wind tunnel model. The designation P-55 was reserved for the project. The USAAC was dissatisfied with the results of these tests. Accordingly, Curtiss-Wright built a flying full-scale model they designated CW-24B. The flying testbed was powered by a 275 hp (205 kW) Menasco C68-5 inline engine. It had a fabric-covered, welded steel tube fuselage with a wooden wing. The undercarriage was non-retractable.
July 1942, the United States Army Air Forces issued a contract for three prototypes under the designation XP-55. Serial numbers were 42-78845 through 42-78847. During this time, the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 H-block sleeve valve engine was delayed, and was eventually canceled. Curtiss decided to switch to the 1,000 hp (750 kW) Allison V-1710 (F16) liquid-cooled inline engine because of its proven reliability. Armament was to be two 20 mm (0.79 in) cannon and two 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns
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The performance of the XP-55 was inferior to conventional fighter aircraft. Sealing its fate, by 1944, jet-powered fighters were in development; that terminated development of the XP-55.
The third prototype XP-55 (s/n 42-78847) was lost on 27 May 1945 during the closing day of the Seventh War Bond Air Show at the Army Air Forces Fair at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio. After a low pass in formation with a Lockheed P-38 Lightning and a North American P-51 Mustang on each wing, its pilot, William C. Glasgow, attempted a slow roll, but lost altitude and crashed, sending flaming debris into occupied civilian ground vehicles on a highway near the airfield. The crash killed Glasgow and four civilians on the ground
The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service.
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