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Curtiss XP-31 Swift


Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype


United States | 1932



"The Curtiss XP-31 Swift monoplane fighter prototype lost out to a Boeing product that would become the P-26 Peashooter series."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/18/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was a major player in the fighter industry during the 1920s and 1930s. One of the many contributions of the period became the prototype XP-31 "Swift" monoplane. Only one was ever built as it lost in competition to a Boeing design which became the famous P-26 "Peashooter" monoplane fighter (detailed elsewhere on this site).

The XP-31 was a product of its time, appearing in-between the major World Wars where spatted undercarriages, enclosed cockpits and metal skinning were becoming the norm. Work began in 1931 by Curtiss and involved a braced, low-mounting monoplane wing structure with traditional single-finned tail unit. The main landing gear legs were heavily faired over (from leg to wheel) and the engine was set within a streamlined nose. The single pilot sat in an enclosed cockpit space just aft of the wing mainplanes.

In its original form, the Swift was powered by a Wright T-1820 "Cyclone" air-cooled radial engine of 700 horsepower at the nose driving a two-bladed propeller unit. A first-flight was recorded in July of 1932. This aircraft carried with it full-span, retractable leading-edge slats and trailing edge flaps for maximum low-speed control. When performance was shown to be lacking in this initial iteration, the aircraft was re-engined to carry the Curtiss GIV-1570-F "Conqueror" 12-cylinder engine of 600 horsepower with Prestone cooling (now driving a three-bladed propeller). This model was formally accepted for the USAAC competition against the Boeing entry.

However, despite the testing scheduled for Match 1st, 1933, the XP-31 had already been surpassed by the superior Boeing design and chosen as the next fighter for the USAAC. As such, the XP-31 quickly fell to history and the sole example was ultimately scrapped in 1935.

As completed, the XP-31 sported a length of 8 meters, a wingspan of 11 meters and a height of 2.4 meters. Empty weight was 1,512 kilograms against an MTOW of 1,880kg. Maximum speed reached 335 kmh (208mph) and range was out to 595 kilometers (370 miles). Its service ceiling was 7,440 meters (24,400 feet).

Proposed armament was 2 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings within the engine cowl and 2 x 7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings at the "cheek" positions of the fuselage.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Curtiss XP-31 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype.
1 x Curtiss GIV-1570-F Conqueror 12-cylinder liquid-cooled engine developing 600 horsepower and driving a three-bladed propeller at the nose.
Propulsion
208 mph
335 kph | 181 kts
Max Speed
24,409 ft
7,440 m | 5 miles
Service Ceiling
373 miles
600 km | 324 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Curtiss XP-31 Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
26.2 ft
8.00 m
O/A Length
36.1 ft
(11.00 m)
O/A Width
7.9 ft
(2.40 m)
O/A Height
3,340 lb
(1,515 kg)
Empty Weight
4,145 lb
(1,880 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Curtiss XP-31 Swift Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype .
PROPOSED:
2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in engine cowling.
2 x 0.30 caliber Browning M1919 machine guns in fuselage "cheek" positions.
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Curtiss XP-31 Swift family line.
XP-31 "Swift" - Base Series Designation; single prototype example completed.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Curtiss XP-31 Swift. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 1 Units

Contractor(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (208mph).

Graph Average of 225 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
1
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Curtiss XP-31 Swift
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
AIR-TO-AIR COMBAT
X-PLANE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Curtiss XP-31 Swift Single-Seat Monoplane Fighter Prototype appears in the following collections:
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