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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.


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