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Vultee XP-68 Tornado (Swoose Goose) - United States, 1941

Detailing the development and operational history of the Vultee XP-68 Tornado (Swoose Goose) Single-Seat, Twin-Boom Fighter Aircraft Proposal.

 Entry last updated on 8/26/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ¬©

The XP-68 by Vultee Aircraft was essentially its XP-54 Swoose Goose with the experimental Wright Tornado engine installed - none were built.

Vultee Aircraft managed only a few notable designs during World War 2 (1939-1945) but one of its most intriguing became the XP-54 "Swoose Goose" (detailed elsewhere on this site). This twin-boom fighter advanced considerably during its development phase, first-flying in January of 1943. In the end, however, only two prototypes were completed and the project ultimately cancelled. The XP-54 was to be developed further by the company through the XP-68 "Tornado" initiative - though this endeavor also came to naught.

The XP-68 was to rely on an experimental engine fit in the Wright R-2160-3 "Tornado", a powerplant showcasing 42 total cylinders and a projected output of 2,350 horsepower (2,500hp with a turbosupercharger installed). The engine found favor with the U.S. Army as early as June of 1939 and decided to fund the project by way of official contract.

Vultee presented a design based on its XP-54 to mount the Tornado engine as Army officials were interested in coupling the experimental powerplant to an equally-experimental aircraft. The Swoose Goose seemed the proper subject and thus the "Model 78" was born (the Army developmental designation became "XP-68").

The XP-68 was drawn up with a wingspan of 46 feet and an overall length of 48 feet, tipping the scales at 8,500 lb. Proposed armament was 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns, all to be situated in the nose (original drawings saw as many as nine machine guns fitted). The aircraft more or less was to retain the form and function of the preceding XP-54.

Work on the XP-68 was underway as early as 1941 but, on November 22nd of that year, the aircraft (and its proposed Tornado engine) was cancelled in favor of continuing the less risky XP-54 and other Vultee aircraft commitments of the war. The XP-54 design was, itself, completed with the possibly to take on the Tornado engine fit at a future time and went on to record its first-flight on January 15th, 1943. However even this program faltered as delays mounted and performance proved underwhelming. Subsequently only two prototypes were completed for testing.

Performance specs on this page are estimated on the part of the author.

Vultee XP-68 Tornado Specifications

Service Year: 1941
Type: Single-Seat, Twin-Boom Fighter Aircraft Proposal
National Origin: United States
Manufacturer(s): Vultee Aircraft - USA
Total Production: 0

Structural (Crew, Dimensions, Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 48.00 feet (14.63 meters)
Overall Width: 45.93 feet (14.00 meters)
Overall Height: 14.53 feet (4.43 meters)

Weight (Empty): 8,499 lb (3,855 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 13,669 lb (6,200 kg)

Power / Performance (Engine Type, Top Speed)

Engine: 1 x Wright R-2160-3 "Tornado" 42-cylinder engine developing 2,350 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 332 knots (382 mph; 615 kph)
Maximum Range: 432 nautical miles (497 miles; 800 km)
Service Ceiling: 37,730 feet (11,500 meters; 7.15 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,400 feet-per-minute (732 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns in the nose.

Global Operators (Customers, Users)

United States (cancelled)

Model Variants

XP-68 "Tornado" - Base Series Designation