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  • Curtiss XP-31 Swift Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype

    The Curtiss XP-31 Swift monoplane fighter prototype lost out to a Boeing product that would become the P-26 Peashooter series.

     Updated: 4/14/2017; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com

    Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was a major player in the fighter industry during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the many contributions of the period became the prototype XP-31 "Swift" monoplane. Only one was ever built as it lost in competition to a Boeing design which became the famous P-26 "Peashooter" monoplane fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site).

    The XP-31 was a product of its time, appearing in-between the major World Wars where spatted undercarriages, enclosed cockpits and metal skinning were becoming the norm. Work began in 1931 by Curtiss and involved a braced, low-mounting monoplane wing structure with traditional single-finned tail unit. The main landing gear legs were heavily faired over (from leg to wheel) and the engine was set within a streamlined nose. The single pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit space just aft of the wing mainplanes.

    In its original form, the Swift was powered by a Wright T-1820 "Cyclone" air-cooled radial engine of 700 horsepower at the nose driving a two-bladed propeller unit. A first-flight was recorded in July of 1932. This aircraft carried with it full-span, retractable leading-edge slats and trailing edge flaps for maximum low-speed control. When performance was shown to be lacking in this initial iteration, the aircraft was re-engined to carry the Curtiss GIV-1570-F "Conqueror" 12-cylinder engine of 600 horsepower with Prestone cooling (now driving a three-bladed propeller). This model was formally accepted for the USAAC competition against the Boeing entry.

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    Curtiss XP-31 Swift Technical Specifications

    Service Year: 1932
    Type: Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
    Production Total: 1

    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 26.25 feet (8 meters)
    Width: 36.09 feet (11.00 meters)
    Height: 7.87 feet (2.40 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 3,340 lb (1,515 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 4,145 lb (1,880 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

    Engine(s): 1 x Curtiss GIV-1570-F Conqueror 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 600 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller at the nose.

    Maximum Speed: 208 mph (335 kph; 181 knots)
    Maximum Range: 373 miles (600 km)
    Service Ceiling: 24,409 feet (7,440 meters; 4.62 miles)

    Armament / Mission Payload

    2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in cowling.
    2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in fuselage cheek positions.

    Global Operators / Customers

    United States (cancelled)

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

    XP-31 "Swift" - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed.