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Vultee XP-81


Mixed-Power Fighter Prototype Aircraft


United States | 1945



"The Vultee XP-81 was a combination fighter powered by both turboprop and turbojet powerplant technology."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 01/21/2019 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Consolidated Vultee XP-81 was a proposed long-range, high-altitude fighter design that was to be the answer for bomber escorting in Europe but, more importantly, throughout the island hopping campaign of the Pacific. The XP-81 melded together the power of the ever-evolving turbojet engines and the development of America's first turboprop engine.

The single-seat, twin engine fighter was designed around the complicated General Electric powerplant creations that would never live up to expectations with the XP-81 design. To feed the two-engine idea, the aircraft itself was to be of a rather large design for a fighter when compared to its contemporaries in the P-51 Mustang, P-38 Lightning and the P-47 Thunderbolt.

The pilot sat forward of the wing assemblies, offering up tremendous visibility from the bubble canopy overlooking the front part of the aircraft. A four-blade propeller sat at front, powered by the turboprop assembly in the nose. The laminar flow wings sat directly in the center of the design with a low tricycle landing gear system underneath the massive spread. Twin intakes were mounted just aft of the cockpit on the top portion of the fuselage. These intakes were placed as such to feed the single turbojet engine jettisoning exhaust through the rear under the rudder and tail assemblies.

On paper, the design was sound. Estimated capabilities proposed that the system would be able to achieve over 500 miles per hour and reach over 35,000 feet. As impressive ranges were a part of the American aircraft pedigree throughout the war (British and German aircraft seldom were long-range threats to one another), the XP-81 was to have a distance of 2,500 miles - more than enough to keep up with the B-17 and B-29 bomber formations pounding The Reich and the Empire of Japan.

Alas, troubles with the powerplant forced the only flying prototype to be fitted with a P-51 engine alternative. When the turboprop did arrive and was installed, the system produced well under expectations - a full 1,000 horsepower under proposed capabilities in fact. With the war in Europe now held in check by the existing breed of fighter escorts and the island hopping campaigns of the Pacific progressing equally well - though slow-going and costly to US ground forces - the XP-81 project was cancelled along with the order of 13 YP-81 developmental models.

Though envisioned with an armament array of 6 x .50 caliber machine guns, the weapons were never fitted to the aircraft. Provisions for drop tanks or bombs can be assumed. The two surviving prototypes were later found scrapped of most anything of value and, as of this writing, are awaiting their fate with the USAF - perhaps seeing fit to restore at least one model for the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio. A sound concept nonetheless, the twin engine creation never really got off the ground.

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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 Vultee XP-81 Mixed-Power Fighter Prototype Aircraft.
1 x General Electric XT-31-GE-1 turboprop engine developing 2,300 horsepower and 1 x General Electric J33-GE-5 turbojet engine developing 3,750 lb of thrust.
Propulsion
506 mph
815 kph | 440 kts
Max Speed
35,499 ft
10,820 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling
2,500 miles
4,023 km | 2,172 nm
Operational Range
4,500 ft/min
1,372 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
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 Vultee XP-81 Mixed-Power Fighter Prototype Aircraft.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
44.9 ft
13.69 m
O/A Length
50.5 ft
(15.39 m)
O/A Width
14.0 ft
(4.27 m)
O/A Height
12,798 lb
(5,805 kg)
Empty Weight
19,500 lb
(8,845 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 Vultee XP-81 Mixed-Power Fighter Prototype Aircraft .
PROPOSED:
6 x 12.7mm Browning Heavy Machine Guns (never installed).
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Vultee XP-81 family line.
XP-81 - Two prototype examples as S/N 44-91000 and 44-91001.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Vultee XP-81. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 2 Units

Contractor(s): Vultee / Consolidated / Convair - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States (cancelled) ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (506mph).

Graph Average of 563 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
2
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
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Image of the Vultee XP-81
2 / 5
Image of the Vultee XP-81
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Image of the Vultee XP-81
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Image of the Vultee XP-81
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Image of the Vultee XP-81

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 Vultee XP-81 Mixed-Power Fighter Prototype Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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