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Curtiss 90 / XP-60





The P-60 designation applies to a family of widely different Curtiss fighters, each reflecting the urgency of the builder's unsuccessful effort to develop a P-40 replacement. Though only four airframes carried out the P-60 programme, no fewer than nine designations were involved: XP-60, XP-60A, YP-60A, P-60A, XP-60B, XP-60C, XP-60D, XP-60E and YP-60E. The programme ran from early 1941 to December 1944 and was Curtiss's last gasp in the propeller-driven fighter field, an effort which involved several engines, propellers, and canopy configurations. Four XP-60 prototypes were flown with various engines, and designations.
The XP-60 was a low-wing, conventional-gear fighter developed from the uncompleted XP-53 but powered by a 969kW Packard V-1560-1 licence-built Merlin, determined by the USAAF to be the best engine available in 1941. This airframe flew on 18 September 1941. With all Merlin-related resources soon committed to the P-51 Mustang programme, the USAAF then decided to employ the 1062kW Allison V-1710-75 in planned production-model P-60s. On 31 October 1941, 1,950 such fighters were ordered. Soon, however, it became evident that Curtiss' Buffalo, New York, plant could be more usefully employed building P-47G Thunderbolts and the contract was cancelled. Three XP-60A airframes were tested with the Allison powerplant before being re-engined. The proposed YP-60A, which would have had a 1491kW Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 radial, was another variation which did not result in a finished airframe. The XP-60B was to have been the original machine with a shift from Merlin to Allison power but apparently this change was never made.



The XP-60C, converted in 1943 from one of the three Allison test ships, employed the R-2800 radial. This was the sole example tested with Curtiss Electric contra-rotating propellers. The XP-60D was the original machine retaining its Merlin but with enlarged tail surfaces and other minor changes. The XP-60E was another R-2800 radial-powered variant. Last in the series was the YP-60E, another conversion, again R-2800 radial-powered but now uncamouflaged and with bubble canopy, the result being formidable competition to the Curtiss P-40Q for the claim of most beautiful fighter ever built. In November 1942, the US Army ordered 500 Pratt & Whitney-powered P-60 fighters but the production contract was soon set aside in favour of other priorities. The P-60 programme ended by mid-1944, the last airframe being scrapped on 22 December 1944.
In May 1944, Curtiss indicated to the AAF that it wished to abandon further work on the P-60 series fighters because of the disappointing results achieved with the XP-60C and XP-60E. Earlier, the P-60 had been eliminated from the production schedules, the number of aircraft on contract having been reduced to two. However, the AAF insisted on completion of one of the two aircraft still on order. These, originally ordered as YP-60As, had been redesignated as YP-60Es because the design modifications incorporated were most directly descended from the XP-60E. The YP-60E differed principally in having a 2,100hp R-2800-18 engine, a deeper cowling incorporating the ventral cooler intake, a cut-down rear fuselage and a bubble-type cockpit canopy. The sole YP-60E completed was flown on 13 July 1944, but only one further flight was made before the aircraft was transferred to Wright Field where it was eventually disposed of without further testing. Armament comprised six wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns.


Engine: Packard Merlin V-1560-1, 969kW

Engine: Allison V-1710-75, 1062kW

Engine: 1491kW Pratt & Whitney R-2800-10 radial


Engine: Allison V-1710

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R2800.
Prop: Curtiss Electric contra-rotating.
Take-off weight: 4770 kg / 10516 lb
Empty weight: 3945 kg / 8697 lb
Wingspan: 12.60 m / 41 ft 4 in
Length: 10.39 m / 34 ft 1 in
Height: 4.57 m / 14 ft 12 in
Wing area: 25.55 sq.m / 275.02 sq ft
Max. speed: 621 km/h / 386 mph
Ceiling: 10900 m / 35750 ft
Range: 990 km / 615 miles

Engine: Packard Merlin V-1560-1, 969kW

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R2800.
Take-off weight: 4658 kg
Empty weight: 3758 kg
Wingspan: 12.60 m / 41 ft 4 in
Length: 10.34 m / 33 ft 11 in
Height: 3.81 m / 12 ft 6 in
Wing area: 22.55 sq.m / 242.73 sq ft
Max. speed: 652 km/h / 405 mph


Engine: Pratt & Whitney R2800-18, 2,100hp
Armament: six wing-mounted 12.7mm machine guns.





Curtiss YP-60E


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