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Curtiss XP-42

United States (1939)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft.

 Entry last updated on 6/26/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Curtiss XP-42  
Picture of Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft
Picture of Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft Picture of Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter AircraftPicture of Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft

The Curtiss XP-42 was a further development of the P-36 product, though it lost out to the XP-40 after competition trials.

The Curtiss XP-42 was a further development of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk model though it would share some initial outward similarities to Curtiss' most well known aircraft - the P-40 Warhawk. Later in its development, the XP-42 would see a series of changes that would liken it back to its P-36 roots. The system was modified from a P-36A and given the S/N of 38-004 and was featured in a series of tests designed to reduce drag qualities of radial piston engines. As such, this P-36A featured a redesigned nose and an entirely new powerplant operating a three-blade propeller.

The aircraft featured an air scoop under the engine while the carburetor scoops were mounted at top. In an interesting design feature, a long shaft was developed to properly reach and drive the propeller system. The resulting aircraft proved to be faster than the P-36A but it also faced cooling issues for the engine, serious vibration problems inherent in the propeller shaft system and the XP-42 would never prove faster than the P-40. As a result, the XP-42 gave way to the P-40 Warhawk series of aircraft, which would nab the available Army production orders and become one of America's classic warfighters of its time.

Only a single P-36A was modified as an XP-42. The system was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial series engine generating an impressive 1,050 horsepower. The system was crewed by one personnel and the entire project was officially ended by 1947, to which the aircraft was scrapped for parts.
Picture of the Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft
Picture of the Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft

Any available statistics for the Curtiss XP-42 Prototype Fighter Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).
Curtiss XP-42 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1939
Type: Prototype Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss - USA
Production: 1
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 28.22 ft (8.6 m)
Width: 37.07 ft (11.30 m)
Height: 8.20 ft (2.50 m)
Empty Weight: 4,817 lb (2,185 kg)
MTOW: 5,648 lb (2,562 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-31 radial engine developing 1,050 horsepower.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 250 mph (402 kph; 217 kts)
Maximum Range: 830 mi (1,336 km; 721 nm)
Service Ceiling: 37,198 ft (11,338 m; 7.05 mi)

2 x 7.62mm machine guns above nose section

Operators List
United States

Series Model Variants
• P-36A - Initial Model on which the XP-42 was based on.
• Model 75S - Curtiss Company Model Designation
• P-42 - Base Model Series Designation
• XP-42 - USAAC Designation

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

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