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Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk

United States (1948)
Picture of Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk Prototype Interceptor / Night-Fighter Aircraft

The end of the Curtiss XP-87 Blackhawk project signaled the end of Curtiss-Wright as an aircraft-maker.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk Prototype Interceptor / Night-Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 5/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

The XF-87 was a failed proposal attempted by the Curtiss-Wright aircraft design bureau to meet an Air Force requirement for the world's first dedicated radar interceptor aircraft crewed by two personnel and operating under jet propulsion. The system was developed into prototype type form, ordered for production but was promptly cancelled in favor of a competing Northrop design in the F-89 Scorpion. The cancellation of the XF-87 effectively signaled the end of Curtiss-Wright as a prominent player in the military aircraft market, becoming the Aeroplane Division's final flyable aircraft.

The Curtiss-Wright company was already a well-established name in the realm of military aviation, accounting for such memorable aircraft designs as the Curtiss "Jenny" and the Curtiss P-40 "Warhawk". With the XA-43 attack platform version already developed to some extent, the XP-87/XF-87 was a further development of that system. The aircraft proved rather large by conventional thinking and featured a side-by-side two-man cockpit. With turbojet technology in its relative infancy at this stage, the XP-87 was propelled by no fewer than four Westinghouse jet engines mounted near the wing roots, capable of up to 3,000 pounds of thrust each. Top speed was reported to be about 585 miles per hour with a ceiling of over 40,000 feet.

The original XA-43 design produced by the Curtiss-Wright company was designed to an altogether different specification, calling for a single-seat, twin-engine fighter platform available for all-weather and high-altitude service. With a requirement change, the XA-43 developed into the XP-87, or the more accurately the XF-87, and offered up in two prototype S/N identifiers as the 45-59600 and the 46-522. The 46-522 was modified to become the single XF-87A production system.

Design of the XF-87 was quite traditional, painted in all black for optimal night time operation. Wings were of the mid-mount variety with a standard "T" type tail assembly and a tricycle landing gear system. The nose was to contain a proposed battery of 4 x 20mm cannons in a remote-controlled turret with variable angle of attack. Though promising, this armament was never fitted into the first flyable prototype. A second prototype, to be know as the "Blackhawk", was under consideration and was to be fitted with two improved-power turbojets in place of the four found in the base XF-87 design.

In the end, the cancellation of the XP-87 spelled doom for the Curtiss-Wright company. The XP-87 effectively became the last aircraft production attempt for the firm and had a lot riding on its success. The Nighthawk and its Blackhawk counterpart were later be scrapped, ending one of the more glorious chapters in the life of one of America's founding aircraft design firms. Some 58 F-87A models were on order, along with 30 reconnaissance RF-87 variants when the project was officially cancelled.

Any available statistics for the Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk Prototype Interceptor / Night-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).






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (585mph).

    Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1948
Type: Prototype Interceptor / Night-Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss-Wright - USA
Production: 2
Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United States (cancelled)
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Curtiss-Wright XP-87 / XF-87 Blackhawk model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
62.04 ft


Meters
18.91 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
60.04 ft


Meters
18.3 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
20.01 ft


Meters
6.1 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
25,981 lb


Kilograms
11,785 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
50,023 lb


Kilograms
22,690 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
4 x Westinghouse XJ34-WE-7 turbojet engines developing 3,000lb of thrust each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
585 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
941 kph


Knots
508 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,000 mi


Kilometers
1,609 km


Nautical Miles
869 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
40,026 ft


Meters
12,200 m


Miles
7.58 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,535 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
773 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

PROPOSED:
4 x 20mm cannons in nose-mounted powered turret
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XA-43 - Early Attack Variant Design Designation on which the XP-87 was derived from; redesignated to the XP-87.
• XF-87 - 2 Prototype Examples Produced.
• XF-87A - Prototype Model Designation modified from the second XF-87 prototype design.
• F-87A - Proposed Fighter Designation based on the XF-87A prototype design.
• RF-87A - Proposed Reconnaissance Model Variant of the base F-87A.