Consolidated P-30 / PB-2 / A-11
By May 1932 the service had decided to explore the basic Y1P design further. The Y1P-27 and Y1P-28 variants, to be powered by Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines of different marks, were seriously contemplated but never built. Four 503kW supercharged Curtiss V-1710-57 Conqueror-powered service-test machines were completed as P-30s and later machines were redesignated PB-2 (for pursuit, biplace). The basic design, after being allocated several designations, became the principal USAAC two-seat fighter between world wars.
By 1934, flight tests of the P-30 were under way, the aeroplane carrying an officer/pilot and enlisted man/gunner. Gunners found their semi-open perch aboard the P-30 uncomfortable and, at high altitude, very cold. Heavy clothing, required to keep the gunner from freezing, seriously impaired his effectiveness. For this and other reasons, the P-30 was never effective at high altitude, the very regime where USAAC doctrine called for it to fly and fight. Development of the parallel A-11 attack aircraft was suspended after delivery of four airframes and some airmen argued that the P-30, too, had reached the limit of its usefulness. But on 6 December 1934, the Army placed a firm contract for a production batch of 50 P-30As and made plans for the 1st Pursuit Group at Selfridge Field, Michigan, to operate the type. The operational machines received the 522kW Curtiss V-1570-61 powerplant. They became a familiar sight in war games at USAAC aerodromes during the 1930s.
A single P-30A was built as a single-seater and competed without success in the 1936 fighter competition which produced the Curtiss P-36 Mohawk. Shortly after the P-30A entered service, the 'pursuit bi-place' category was closed, surviving P-30 airframes becoming PB-2s and the single-seat P-30A becoming the PB-2A. This heavy and heavily-armed fighter was to take in one further designation in an unbuilt variant, XP-33, before passing into history. A few PB-2As (former P-30As) are thought to have remained in service as late as the eve of Pearl Harbour.
Engine: 522kW Curtiss V-1570-61
Take-off weight: 2560 kg / 5644 lb
Empty weight: 1953 kg / 4306 lb
Wingspan: 13.39 m / 43 ft 11 in
Length: 9.14 m / 29 ft 12 in
Height: 2.51 m / 8 ft 3 in
Wing area: 27.59 sq.m / 296.98 sq ft
Max. speed: 442 km/h / 275 mph
Cruise speed: 346 km/h / 215 mph
Ceiling: 8530 m / 28000 ft
Range: 820 km / 510 miles
Armament: 2 x 7.62mm fixed machine-guns + 1 x 7.62mm machine-gun in the rear