MANUFACTURER(S): Lockheed Corporation - USA
OPERATORS: United States (cancelled)
LENGTH: 40.03 feet (12.2 meters)
WIDTH: 52.00 feet (15.85 meters)
HEIGHT: 9.91 feet (3.02 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 15,399 pounds (6,985 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 18,827 pounds (8,540 kilograms)
ENGINE: EARLY: 2 x Pratt & Whitney X-1800 inline piston engines developing 2,300 horsepower; LATE: 2 x Continental XI-1430-1 inline piston engines developing 1,600 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 404 miles-per-hour (650 kilometers-per-hour; 351 knots)
RANGE: 680 miles (1,095 kilometers; 591 nautical miles)
CEILING: 30,003 feet (9,145 meters; 5.68 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 3,500 feet-per-minute (1,067 meters-per-minute)
Detailing the development and operational history of the Lockheed XP-49 High-Altitude Fighter Prototype.
Entry last updated on 5/11/2016.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
The XP-49 was a development of the Lockheed Corporation during World War 2 (1939-1945) as a possible successor to the classic P-38 "Lightning" twin boom fighter of 1941. The XP-49 was to be a high-altitude performer with the established capabilities of the original. The project came about due to growing concern on the part of the U.S. Army in the rising costs of the most recent P-38 production model. After review of several proposed entries from various manufacturers, the Army settled on the new Lockheed design - the Model 522.
The XP-49 was visually similar in most respects to the P-38. The twin-boom design was found to be effective even for a fighter as in the P.38 and the XP-49 would follow suit. Beyond sharing this key physical characteristic, the XP-49 was of an new design. The aircraft was to feature a pair of Pratt & Whitney's new "X-1800" engine capable of an impressive 2,300 horsepower, offering the XP-49 airframe a maximum speed reaching nearing 500 miles per hour.
The single prototype was completed and first flown in November of 1942, sans all of its proposed armament to expedite development. The proposed weapons suite centered on 2 x 20mm cannons supported by 4 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns - an improvement over the P.38's single 20mm cannon and 4 x .50 caliber gun array. As in the P-38, the XP-49 carried its armament concentrated at the nose section, ahead of the pilot's position.
While the XP-49 was being drawn up as a single-seat fighter, a second cockpit was added for an observer behind the pilot for flight testing.
New engines - the Continental XI-1430 - were then selected to succeed the intended (and now cancelled) Pratt & Whitney engines. This led to a reduction in estimated speed by as much as 75 miles per hour. The shift added to the project's woes which was beginning to lose steam as the war continued to turn to the favor of the Allies and the current stock of Army fighters were more than up to the task.
As such, the XP-49 led a very brief test life before running into further engine issues. As with the Pratt & Whitney engines, the developmental Continental engines were also cancelled. A crash landing during a flight test also took place when a landing gear failed to lower - such were the signs against the XP-49. With the cancellation of both intended engines, U.S. Army authorities eventually looked elsewhere, effectively leaving the XP-49 project dead on arrival.
In its final "moment of glory", the XP-49 airframe was subjected to brutish force-testing by being dropped at heights against a concrete floor. The tests were conducted to see the extent of damage caused by G-forces upon a modern aircraft fuselage. The XP-49 remains were later on display before being cannibalized and, ultimately, scrapped.
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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
This entry's maximum listed speed (404mph).
Graph average of 375 miles-per-hour.
Graph showcases the Lockheed XP-49's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units