Prior to the American entry into World War 2 (1939-1945), the United States Navy (USN) looked to fulfill a maritime patrol aircraft requirement centered around a flying boat design. Consolidated Aircraft responded with their XP4Y "Corregidor" which recorded its first-flight on May 5th, 1939. Due to wartime demands, and despite a hundreds-strong production order being signed, the design was cancelled with just the sole flying prototype completed.
Consolidated developed the XP4Y under the in-house "Model 31" designator and work began in 1938. As a sleek, all-modern / all-metal, aerodynamically-refined design, the aircraft incorporated a high-mounted wing mainplane assembly atop its fuselage for inherently good lifting qualities and to keep the engines far from ocean spray. Each mainplane carried a single, nacelled engine unit at its leading edge as well as retractable floats for waterborne balancing. The nose section was stepped to provide good views out over the nose for the pilots (seated side-by-side) and the lower fuselage section was designed with a boat-like hull for waterborne landings and takeoffs. The tail unit comprised a shared horizontal plane straddled by vertical tailplanes.
Two of its features - the twin rudder tail and the high-wing mainplanes -would later be used in Consolidated's classic World War 2 heavy bomber, the B-24 "Liberator", detailed elsewhere on this site.
As designed, the aircraft had a running length of 74 feet with a wingspan reaching 110 feet and an overall height of 25.1 feet. Weight reached 48,000lb gross. Proposed power was from 2 x Wright R-3350-8 "Cyclone 18" series air-cooled radials with each unit outputting 2,300 horsepower. Performance specs included a maximum speed of nearly 250 miles per hour with cruising done closer to 135mph. Range was out to 3,300 miles and its service ceiling reached 21,400 feet. Rate-of-climb was 1,230 feet-per-minute.
Proposed armament centered on a turreted, bow-mounted 37mm autocannon. A dorsal and tail turret position were each to receive 2 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns and the aircraft would have carried the typical USN drop bombs and depth charges of the day for attack.
Beyond its military value, the Model 31 was also being developed for possible civilian marketplace operation. In this guise, the aircraft would have been modified to carry over fifty passengers in comfort - this was, after all, the Golden Age of the long-range flying boat for passenger air travel.
The first-flight of the Model 31 in May of 1939 showcased a well-performing, well-handling aircraft for its class. USN authorities liked what they saw and committed to the type as the "XP4Y-1" while it continued to undergo development into 1940. A production contract for 200 of the type was then signed and these would be built at an all-new Consolidated plant being constructed in New Orleans, Louisiana.
However, the American entry into World War 2 in December of 1941 - as well as the Wright engines, wartime materials and manpower needing to be committed elsewhere - meant that there lay little interest in continuing the XP4Y-1 program. As such, events led to its cancellation and Consolidated began manufacture of its famous PBY "Catalina" flying boat line (detailed elsewhere on this site) at the very factory that was to make the XP4Y - leaving the "Corregidor" as nothing more than a footnote in American military aviation history.