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Curtiss XP-62

United States (1943)
Picture of Curtiss XP-62 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Aircraft Prototype

The Curtiss XP-62 fighter project was cancelled as quickly as it achieved a first flight in prototype form - all during 1943.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss XP-62 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Aircraft Prototype.  Entry last updated on 7/13/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Curtiss Aeroplane's success in delivering a U.S. Army fighter was in the classic P-40 "Warhawk" line. However, this was a pre-war design through and through and many attempts by the company to secure additional Army contracts in the fighter field ultimately failed. There were also attempts to improve upon the original P-40 product itself and these also fell to naught as competitors like Lockheed, Republic, and North American swooped in to nab the potentially lucrative Army deals on the table.

The XP-62 was devised by Curtiss to build a very fast fighter platform around the then-largest radial piston engine available - the Wright R-3350 "Cyclone 18". The work began even before the United States was to commit to the World War which came in December of 1941. During January of that year, Curtiss approached U.S. Army authorities with its plans and convinced them about the fighter's potential, managing to secure funding for the endeavor before the end of the month.

The Cyclone engine was already in the works, begun in 1936, but it had proved itself wholly temperamental to the point that delays were commonplace. Beyond its sheer size, the engine was rated for over 2,000 horsepower output and found its best use as the drive plant for the famous Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" heavy bomber still to come (this bomber used four such engines). Perhaps more interestingly was its use to power a more compact fighter aircraft - giving it unprecedented speed and performance factors to be unrivaled at the time. During this period, the Wright product was one of the most powerful of its kind - the Wright R-3350-17 model was selected to power the XP-62 design and provide upwards of 2,300 horsepower output. A turbo-supercharger was to also form part of the engine's installation. Because of the forces at play, a large diameter (over 13 feet) six-bladed contra-rotating propeller would be fitted to the front of the aircraft.

Beyond its massive radial, the aircraft was to feature modern metal skin construction, a pressurized cockpit for high-altitude flight and a then-impressive armament fit of 12 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns. Alternatively, the machine guns could be supplanted by a battery of four to eight 20mm cannons for an even more powerful frontal "punch".

The end product became a stout monoplane aircraft featuring a deep fuselage with its turbo-supercharger intake duct fitted under the nose, ductwork being used to funnel air to the unit amidships. A raised fuselage spine aft of the cockpit restricted views to the rear but added internal volume for fuel, avionics and other vital components. The cockpit was covered over in a greenhouse-style canopy and sat just aft of the engine installation. The tail unit consisted of a rounded vertical tail fin emanating from the dorsal spine as well as mid-mounted horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of the typical tail-dragger arrangement and all-retractable. Instead of the intended machine gun array, the armament had now specifically centered on all-cannon armament - as many as eight.
Curtiss developed the aircraft under the "Model 91" product name and submitted its streamlined proposal in April of 1940. This was approved the following month and covered the prototype XP-62 and a production-quality XP-62A - the first to be readied by late 1942. As Curtiss engineers set to work but it was soon discovered that the troublesome engine would not be ready in time.

Despite this, a mock-up was available for review during December of 1941. By this time, the product's weight had ballooned and it was ordered that she be lightened (this led to a 4 x 20mm cannon armament as the agreed upon standard). The Army handed Curtiss an official production contract in May of 1942 to produce the finalized P-62A. However, this contract was rescinded as soon as July when the Boeing B-29 project required the selected Wright engine stock. Army authorities were also concerned about disrupting the Curtiss commitment to producing its P-40 and the Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighters.

The XP-62 prototype continued in a reduced state as it no longer was given the sense of urgency it once had. First flight was finally recorded on July 21st, 1943 but this model was still stripped of its vital components and not representative of anything close to a production fighter aircraft. Within a few short months, the XP-62 program was cancelled in full (this occurring on September 21st, 1943) as better alternatives were available to the Army heading into the final years of the war. Curtiss attempted to convince the Army of the merits of converting the new aircraft to a low-altitude ground attack platform but there was already plenty of competition in this field from existing effective types as well as in-development models.

In the end, the XP-62 marked one of the final Curtiss products to emerge during the war years. Its P-40 design was its only truly classic fighter contribution and was never bettered before the end of the conflict. Only a sole prototype of the XP-62 was realized and its flying time only short-lived. If completed, the XP-62 would have showcased a maximum speed of up to 450 miles per hour (the original spec was closer to 470mph), a range out to 1,500 miles, and a service ceiling of 35,700 feet (hence its cockpit pressurization system - which also proved problematic). Dimensions included a length of 39.5 feet, a wingspan of 54 feet, and a height of 16.25 feet.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 500mph
Lo: 250mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (447mph).

    Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Curtiss XP-62's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
1
1


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1943
Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Fighter Aircraft Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss-Wright Corporation - USA
Production: 1
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Curtiss XP-62 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
39.53 ft


Meters
12.05 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
53.64 ft


Meters
16.35 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
16.24 ft


Meters
4.95 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
11,773 lb


Kilograms
5,340 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
16,656 lb


Kilograms
7,555 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Wright R-3350-17 "Cyclone 18" radial piston engine developing 2,300 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
447 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
720 kph


Knots
389 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,491 mi


Kilometers
2,400 km


Nautical Miles
1,296 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
35,761 ft


Meters
10,900 m


Miles
6.77 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

PROPOSED (initially):
12 x 0.50 caliber heavy machine guns OR 4 to 8 x 20mm cannons.

PROPOSED (final, never fitted):
4 x 20mm cannons
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XP-62 - Base Series Designation; sole example completed.
• XP-62A - Contracted production-quality aircraft; cancelled.
• P-62 - Proposed production model designation.