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Curtiss XP-55 Ascender

On loan from the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender

Did You Know?

  • The XP-55 Ascender was a prototype fighter aircraft.
  • In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Forces issued a contract for the XP-55 Ascender.
  • The first one was completed in 1943.
  • Only three Ascenders were ever built. This is the sole survivor, as the other two were destroyed in crashes.
  • Curtiss-Wright designers stuck the main wing behind the engine and the pilot, at the tail end of the fuselage, and they mounted a short wing near the nose.
  • Pusher power plants propelled these flying experiments, but after considerable testing, the U.S. Army Air Corps deemed the Ascender's handling too poor for an effective combat fighter.

Specifications

Wingspan 44 ft. 6 in.
Length 27 ft. 7 in.
Height 10 ft.
Weight 6,354 lbs. (empty); 7,710 lbs. (loaded)
Armament Four .50-cal. machine guns
Engine Allison V-1710-95, producing 1,275 hp
Performance 390 mph at 19,300 ft.
Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program