Vultee Aircraft managed only a few notable designs during World War 2 (1939-1945) but one of its most intriguing became the XP-54 "Swoose Goose" (detailed elsewhere on this site). This twin-boom fighter advanced considerably during its development phase, first-flying in January of 1943. In the end, however, only two prototypes were completed and the project ultimately cancelled. The XP-54 was to be developed further by the company through the XP-68 "Tornado" initiative - though this endeavor also came to naught.
The XP-68 was to rely on an experimental engine fit in the Wright R-2160-3 "Tornado", a powerplant showcasing 42 total cylinders and a projected output of 2,350 horsepower (2,500hp with a turbosupercharger installed). The engine found favor with the U.S. Army as early as June of 1939 and decided to fund the project by way of official contract.
Vultee presented a design based on its XP-54 to mount the Tornado engine as Army officials were interested in coupling the experimental powerplant to an equally-experimental aircraft. The Swoose Goose seemed the proper subject and thus the "Model 78" was born (the Army developmental designation became "XP-68").
The XP-68 was drawn up with a wingspan of 46 feet and an overall length of 48 feet, tipping the scales at 8,500 lb. Proposed armament was 6 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns, all to be situated in the nose (original drawings saw as many as nine machine guns fitted). The aircraft more or less was to retain the form and function of the preceding XP-54.
Work on the XP-68 was underway as early as 1941 but, on November 22nd of that year, the aircraft (and its proposed Tornado engine) was cancelled in favor of continuing the less risky XP-54 and other Vultee aircraft commitments of the war. The XP-54 design was, itself, completed with the possibly to take on the Tornado engine fit at a future time and went on to record its first-flight on January 15th, 1943. However even this program faltered as delays mounted and performance proved underwhelming. Subsequently only two prototypes were completed for testing.
Performance specs on this page are estimated on the part of the author.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.
48.0 ft (14.63 m)
45.9 ft (14.00 m)
14.5 ft (4.43 m)
8,499 lb (3,855 kg)
13,669 lb (6,200 kg)
+5,170 lb (+2,345 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Vultee XP-68 Tornado production variant)
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