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Curtiss XA-40

Single-Seat, Single-Engine Light Bomber Proposal

Intended for the land-based light bombing role for the U.S. Army, the proposed Curtiss XA-40 attacker failed to evolve beyond the scale model mockup stage.
Authored By: Staff Writer | Edited: 4/22/2019
National Flag Graphic


Year: 1943
Status: Cancelled
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss Aeroplane Company - USA
Production: 0
Capabilities: Ground Attack; Close-Air Support (CAS); X-Plane;
Crew: 1
Length: 36.25 ft (11.05 m)
Width: 48.06 ft (14.65 m)
Height: 12.96 ft (3.95 m)
Weight (Empty): 12,125 lb (5,500 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 17,119 lb (7,765 kg)
Power: 1 x Wright R-3350-8 "Duplex Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine developing between 2,200 and 3,200 horsepower while driving a four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Speed: 357 mph (575 kph; 310 kts)
Ceiling: 26,247 feet (8,000 m; 4.97 miles)
Range: 1,864 miles (3,000 km; 1,620 nm)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,200 ft/min (671 m/min)
Operators: United States (abandoned)
Beginning in the late 1930s, the USAAC (to become the USAAF during World War 2) was consistently on the lookout for a new tactical attack aircraft capable of delivering a serviceable war load over range. This led to a series of specifications being drawn up around ever-changing requirements that led the various aeroplane makers of the day to ply their trade and deliver a myriad of proposals in turn - many of which failed to see the light of day before, and during, the Second World War.

For the Curtiss Aeroplane Company (Curtiss), this led to a short-lived design known as the "XA-40", centered on a single-seat, single-engined light-class bomber of rather conventional overall configuration. The XA-40 existed as an outcropping of the "XBTC" program (detailed elsewhere on this site) of which two prototypes were built, and eventually flown, for the purpose of selling the American Navy on the product. The XA-40 was to become an Army offering built specifically for the land-based service.

The aircraft would fit its engine in the nose in the usual way and feature a single crewman under a framed canopy just aft. The smoothly-contoured fuselage tapered towards the tail unit which was capped by a single vertical tail fin and low-set horizontal planes - all of the tail surfaces being rounded at their tips. The mainplanes would be seated under the cockpit floor close to midships and a typical tail-dragger undercarriage was to provide the functionality needed for ground-running.

Structural dimensions included a wingspan of 48 feet with an overall running length of 36.3 feet.

Power was to stem from a Wright R-3350-8 "Duplex Cyclone" air-cooled radial piston engine developing between 2,200 and 3,200 horsepower while driving a four-bladed propeller unit behind a large spinner assembly. Estimated performance specs included a maximum speed of 358 miles-per-hour (under 20,000 feet).

Proposed fixed, standard armament was intended to be 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns or 4 x 20mm autocannons. In addition to this, the aircraft would be rated for a war load of 2,000lb to include the carrying of aerial torpedoes as well as conventional drop bombs.

The XA-40 never materialized beyond the mockup stage and eventually fell to aviation history - disappearing in October of 1943 as wartime requirements changed and interest moved on to other, more capable, products.


6 x 0.50 caliber Browning M2 Heavy Machine Guns (HMGs) OR 4 x 20mm Autocannons (presumably installed in the wings).

Up to 2,000lb of ordnance in the form of an aerial torpedo or conventional drop bombs.

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition

Variants / Models

• XA-40 - Project Designation; scale mockup completed but little else.
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