American Combat Planes of the 20th Century is an incredible reference for anyone who is interested in any American Combat Plane History.   There are 758 pages and 1700 b/w photos in this substantial labor of love by Ray Wagner, who has been passionately researching and writing about aircraft for over 50 years.   Whether you are already familiar with his past works, or just discovering this accomplished author for the first time... This is the book that you've been waiting for!

If you'd like to see the book's   Table of Contents ... Click here.   You can also browse the entire   Index Section   to get an idea of the extensive amount of information that is covered within this book.

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A- 1 Eaton     A- 4 Skyhawk     A- 6 & A- 7     Air Weapons     AV- 8 to A- 10     A- 20 Havoc     A- 22 Martin Maryland     A- 23 Martin Baltimore     A- 24 Douglas     A- 26 Douglas Invader     Attack Planes     B- 2A, F-111, F-117 Stealth    B- 17 Flying Fortress     B- 24 Liberator     B- 25 North American     B- 26 Marauder     B- 29 Superfortress     B- 32 Dominator     B- 35 Flying Wing     B- 36     B- 47 Stratojet     B- 50 Boeing     B- 52 Stratofortress     B- 57 Canberra     B- 58 Hustler     Biplanes     Biplanes, Army Pursuits     Bombers, B- 70 to Stealth     Bombers, First Big     Curtiss Falcon     CO- 1     DH- 4 De Havilland     F3D- Douglas Skyknight    F3H- McDonnell Demon    F4D- 1 Skyray    F4F Grumman Wildcats    F- 4U Corsair    F6F Grumman    F7F Grumman    F7U Vought    F9F G. Cougar    F9F G. Panther    F- 16 Fighting Falcon    F- 84     F- 86 Sabre    F- 89 to F-94    F- 100 to F-108    First Fighters    Flying Boats    GAX    Iraq to Afghanistan    Martin Bombers    Missile Era Fighters    Navy Fighers    Navy Flying Boats    O- 2 Douglas     P- 35 Seversky     P- 36 to 42 Curtiss     P- 38 Lightning    P- 39 Airacobra    P- 40 Line    P- 47 Thunderbolt    P- 51 Mustang Fighter    P- 61 Black Widow    P- 63 Kingcobra    P- 79 to P-81    P- 82 Twin Mustang    SB2C Helldiver    TBF-TBM Avenger    Thomas-Morse    Torpedo Planes    V- 11 Vultee    XB -28    XP -48 / 77   


Xp-55, XP-56

Page 2 CURTISS XP-55

Fighter Projects begun in 1940-1941
General Arnold urged a new emphasis on pursuit tactics and plane development on November 14, 1939, admitting that previous views that bombers could not be defeated by fighters had “now been proven wholly untenable.” New pursuit requirements had to be established for World War Two. CURTISS XP-55  (2nd prototype)

Interceptor pursuit specification XC-622, dated November 27, 1939, called for a single-engine single-seater with a top speed at 15 to 20,000 feet of at least 425 mph. The “desired attainment” was 525 mph, which then seemed like a theoretical limit for propeller-driven planes. No more than seven minutes should be needed to climb to 20,000 feet, but endurance was limited to one and a half hours. At least four guns and six 20-pound bombs would be carried.

To find such fighter designs, Request for Data R40-C was circulated among potential fighter manufacturers on February 20, 1940. Replies from seven companies were opened April 15, 1940. The two designs considered most ready for construction were the Bell Model 13 and the Curtiss CP-40-2, both planned for the Continental XI-1430 inline engine. Designations XP-52 and XP-53 were assigned to these Bell and Curtiss projects. The Foreign Release Agreements made in April, releasing the P-39 and P-40 for export, obligated these companies to build new prototypes without cost to the Air Corps.d such fighter

Republic’s offering for the R40-C competition was the AP-12 with the proposed 2,350-hp Wright R-2160 Tornado engine enclosed behind the pilot, P-39 style, with an extension shaft and gear box driving contra-rotating propellers in the nose. Armament included a cannon and four machine-guns in the nose and two guns in the wings. While this very streamlined design was judged “the maximum that can be expected” from a conventional tractor arrangement, engine development would take over three years. Instead, Republic would develop the barrel-shaped AP-16, which became the XP-47B. NORTHROP XP-56 (First Prototype)

Pusher Prototypes
The highest marks of the R40-C evaluation made on May 15, 1940, were given to single-seaters with rearward-facing propellers and engines behind the pilot Fighters with pusher propellers offered advantages in drag reduction and a nose enhancing pilot visibility and heavy armament installations. Numerous structural complications presented themselves, however, and tricycle landing gear was a necessity.

Bell Aircraft’s Model 13B, the proposed P-39 replacement, had won only 532 of 1,000 merit points from R40-C, so this company switched its XP-52 program to the Model 16, a pusher arrangement. The XP-52 had tricycle landing gear, laminar flow airfoil wings, twin booms to support the tail assembly, and a 1,600-hp Continental XI-1430-5 inline engine, cooled by a nose radiator and turning contra-rotating propellers. This specification, dated July 30, 1940, promised a 425-mph speed at 19,500 feet and an armament of two 20-mm and six .50-caliber guns. NORTHROP XP-56

As contract negotiations proceeded, Bell also offered a pusher interceptor on September 28 that had a 2000-hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800-23 cooled by air from a nose intake. This became the XP-59 on October 2, 1940, and by October 28 the Air Corps decided to abandon the XP-52. Two XP-59 prototypes ordered February 26, 1941, were to weigh 10,463 pounds each, do 450 mph at 22,000 feet, and have the XP-52’s armament

The XP-59 project was canceled on November 25, 1941, to relieve the load on Bell’s engineering staff and clear the way for the XP-59A jet and the XP-63. Both would go into production in 1943 as the Airacomet and the Kingcobra.

The three R40-C winners were designated the Vultee XP-54, with a Figure of Merit of 817 points; the Curtiss-Wright XP-55 with 770 points, and the Northrop XP-56, with 725 points. Preliminary engineering contracts were issued June 22, 1940.

The XP-54 and XP-56 single-seat pushers were to be powered by the Pratt & Whitney 2,200-hp liquid-cooled 24-cylinder X-l800-A3G (H-2600-1), but this engine was canceled on October 4, 1940, and other power plants had to be chosen for the actual prototypes.

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