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Curtiss XP-46

United States (1941)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss XP-46 Fighter Aircraft Prototype.

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

  Curtiss XP-46  
Picture of Curtiss XP-46 Fighter Aircraft Prototype
Picture of Curtiss XP-46 Fighter Aircraft Prototype

The Curtiss XP-46 fighter program would be doomed from the start, effectively dooming the Curtiss company itself.

The smallish XP-46 was to be the answer for the deficiencies encountered in the P-40 Warhawk platform. Unfortunately for Curtiss, the XP-46 would be doomed by underperformance and sluggish capabilities - essentially dooming the company itself form ever producing fighters for the military.

The XP-46 was to take everything right about the P-40 and make it better. Along the way, the drawbacks of the 1930s-era system would be ironed out. The result was to be a small nimble fighter capable of a dreamed-up speed of over 400 miles per hour and built in the same vein as the successful Bf 109 and the Supermarine Spitfires - a fighter the American forces could call upon to conduct most any type of operation on any front.

With production of the P-40 Warhawk in full swing, designers at Curtiss had sold the idea of a more powerful successor to the US Army Air Corps, to which two prototypes were ordered. The design called for the system to be powered by an Allison brand liquid-cooled engine capable of 1,150 horsepower fitted into a smallish frame. Armament - proposed but never fitted to either prototype - was consist of eight .30 caliber machine guns mounted in the wings with an additional two .50 caliber systems in the nose.

By the time the second prototype had flown as the XP-46A, the system was already showing clear signs of never really matching even the outdated P-40 it was to replace. Looking every bit like the P-40 itself, the XP-46 proved to be slow-responding for a fighter and the 400mph speed was never close to being reached. The samples were later scrapped and the Curtiss company was finished - leaving the P-40 Warhawk as the single symbol of their fighter-designing days of success behind.
Any available statistics for the Curtiss XP-46 Fighter Aircraft Prototype 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-46 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
United States
Year: 1941
Type: Fighter Aircraft Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss - USA
Production: 2
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: 30.18 ft (9.2 m)
Width: 34.45 ft (10.50 m)
Height: 12.99 ft (3.96 m)
Empty Weight: 5,624 lb (2,551 kg)
MTOW: 7,663 lb (3,476 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Allison V-1710-39 liquid-cooled inline piston engine developing 1,150 horsepower.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 355 mph (571 kph; 308 kts)
Maximum Range: 325 mi (523 km; 282 nm)
Service Ceiling: 27,999 ft (8,534 m; 5.30 mi)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,000 ft/min (610 m/min)

8 x 7.62mm machine guns in wings
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in nose

Operators List
United States (cancelled)

Series Model Variants
• XP-46 - S/N 40-3053; first prototype sans armament.
• XP-46A - S/N 40-3054; second prototype (flyable); no armament fitted.

Supported Weapon Systems
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun

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