Aviation Oddities

The Curtiss-Wright XP-55:

One of the interesting prototypes flown in the 1940’s was the Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender. In 1939 the US Army Air Corps issued a proposal for aircraft manufacturers to develop unconventional designs for a fighter with improved performance, armament, and pilot visibility. The Curtiss-Wright Corporation (whose evolution traces back via various mergers to aviation pioneers - the Wright brothers, Glenn Martin, and Glenn Curtiss) received an Army contract for preliminary engineering data and a powered wind tunnel model. July 1942, the Army issued a contract for three prototypes under the designation XP-55, with an unusual design featuring a rear mounted engine, swept wings, and two vertical tails. (Because of the rear mounted engine, the aircraft “Ascender” name was often jokingly mispronounced by putting the accent on the first syllable). Although an interesting and creative concept, the XP-55 did not get past the prototype stage. The first prototype crashed, with the pilot bailing out, but a crash of the third prototype at a 1945 Wright Field air show in Dayton resulted in fatalities for the pilot and civilians on a highway bordering the field. With the advent of jet fighter development the XP-55 project was terminated.

See more on the XP-55 Ascender on these links:


Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park 

16 S. Williams St., Dayton, OH 45402

Visitor Center:

For details and seasonal date schedules see

or please call (937) 225-7705 for the current park schedule.

See the Visitor Center page for details on hours and for a map.


From W. Third St., turn south on Williams St and then turn left on Fourth St. Go 1/2 block and turn left into the Visitor Center parking area.

CLICK HERE for a parking map.

Travel Note - Third St. Bridge closure:

The Third Street Bridge will be CLOSED beginning Jan. 1, 2020 until approximately Oct. 2021. Visitors can use the Fifth St. Bridge or the Salem Ave. Bridge as detours from downtown Dayton. A file with more detailed instructions for visitors traveling from the north or south via I-75, or from the east and west via US35 can be downloaded by CLICKING HERE.


Aviation Trail, Inc.

- In Partnership with the National Park Service


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