Dieselpunk: Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender

Here is another one of the design-jewels spawned by World War II that did not go very far but at least three prototypes of this wonderful machine were built:

The Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender

One of the prototypes is still on display at the Air Zoo in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The other two crashed during flights with one fatality.
Would it not be great to get all the surviving radical designs together in one place and then let them fly together?
Dream on…

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender

Anyway, here are some technical characteristics of the Acender:

General characteristics

  • Crew: one pilot
  • Length: 29 ft 7 in (9.0 m)
  • Wingspan: 40 ft 7 in (12.4 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 0 in (3.0 m)
  • Wing area: 235 ft² (21.83 m²)
  • Empty weight: 6,354 lb (2,882 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 7,710 lb (3,497 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 7,930 lb (3,600 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Allison V-1710-95 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 1,275 hp (951 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 390 mph at 19,300 ft (628 km/h)
  • Range: 635 mi (1,020 km)
  • Service ceiling: 34,600 ft (10,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,350 ft/min (11.9 m/s)
  • Wing loading: lb/ft² (kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.16 hp/lb (0.27 kW/kg)


4 × 0.50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose

Interestingly, the Japanese had a somewhat similar design, just before the War ended, but that’s a story for another post.

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