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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:


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