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Curtiss XP-46

 

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The smallish XP-46 was to be the answer for the deficiencies encountered in the P-40 Warhawk. With production of the P-40 Warhawk in full swing, designers at Curtiss had sold the idea of a more powerful successor to the US Army Air Corps, to which two prototypes were ordered on 29 September 1939. The design was to be powered by an Allison liquid-cooled engine of 1,150 horsepower fitted into a small frame. Armament - proposed but never fitted to either prototype - was consist of eight 0.30 caliber machine guns mounted in the wings with an additional two 0.50 caliber systems in the nose.
The US Army ordered one XP-46 and one XP-46A, the XP-46A without armament to expedite the testing programme. Both were powered by the 857kW Allison V-1710-39 inline engine. The XP-46A flew first on 15 February 1941 and both machines were being tested by the time of Pearl Harbor.
The XP-46 and XP-46A had moderately good performance except for their limited range of 523km. They were heavier and costlier than the P-40D, however, and seemed to lack 'stretching' potential for further development. The two airframes were markedly different from each other in detail, especially in cockpit layout, the XP-46 being viewed by pilots as cramped and uncomfortable, a 'sweatbox'.
By the time the second prototype had flown as the XP-46A, the aircraft was already showing clear signs of never matching even the P-40. The XP-46 proved to be slow-responding for a fighter and the 400mph speed was never close to being reached. The samples were later scrapped.
The Curtiss XP-46 produced data which was made available to North American in the design of the P-51 Mustang.

 

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XP-46
Engine: 1 x Allison V-1710-39, 1,150hp / 857kW
Length: 30.18ft (9.2m)
Wingspan: 34.45ft (10.50m)
Height: 12.99ft (3.96m)
Maximum Speed: 355mph (571kmh; 308kts)
Maximum Range: 325miles (523km)
Rate-of-Climb: 2,000ft/min (610m/min)
Service Ceiling: 27,999ft (8,534m)
Crew: 1
Hardpoints: 0
Empty Weight: 5,624lbs (2,551kg)
Maximum Take-Off Weight: 7,663lbs (3,476kg)

XP-46A

Engine: 1 x Allison V-1710-39, 1,150hp / 857kW
Take-off weight: 3320 kg / 7319 lb
Empty weight: 2550 kg / 5622 lb
Wingspan: 10.46 m / 34 ft 4 in
Length: 9.19 m / 30 ft 2 in
Height: 3.96 m / 12 ft 12 in
Wing area: 19.32 sq.m / 207.96 sq ft
Max. speed: 571 km/h / 355 mph
Ceiling: 8990 m / 29500 ft
Range: 523 km / 325 miles

 

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