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Curtiss XP-31 Swift

United States (1932)
Picture of 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.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss XP-31 Swift Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype.  Entry last updated on 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.
However, despite the testing scheduled for Match 1st, 1933, the XP-31 had already been surpassed by the superior Boeing design and chosen as the next fighter for the USAAC. As such, the XP-31 quickly fell to history and the sole example was ultimately scrapped in 1935.

As completed, the XP-31 sported a length of 8 meters, a wingspan of 11 meters and a height of 2.4 meters. Empty weight was 1,512 kilograms against an MTOW of 1,880kg. Maximum speed reached 335 kmh (208mph) and range was out to 595 kilometers (370 miles). Its service ceiling was 7,440 meters (24,400 feet).

Proposed armament was 2 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings within the engine cowl and 2 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings at the "cheek" positions of the fuselage.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (208mph).

    Graph average of 225 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-31 Swift's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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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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National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1932
Type: Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
Production: 1
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-31 Swift model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
26.25 ft


Meters
8 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
36.09 ft


Meters
11 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
7.87 ft


Meters
2.4 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
3,340 lb


Kilograms
1,515 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
4,145 lb


Kilograms
1,880 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Curtiss GIV-1570-F Conqueror 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 600 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
208 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
335 kph


Knots
181 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
373 mi


Kilometers
600 km


Nautical Miles
324 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
24,409 ft


Meters
7,440 m


Miles
4.62 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

PROPOSED:
2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in cowling.
2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in fuselage cheek positions.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XP-31 "Swift" - Base Series Designation; single prototype completed.