POWER PLANT: One Allison V-1710-35 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,150 hp
PERFORMANCE: 350 mph at 10,000 ft
COMMENT: In 1936 the Bell Aircraft Corporation’s design team began work on the Bell XP-39, a radical design of a single-seat fighter with the engine mounted behind the pilot, driving the airscrew by means of an extension shaft. This arrangement appeared to offer superior manoeuvrability, the engine weight being concentrated around the fighter’s center of gravity. But the first flight test proved that this unorthodox fighter had a low ceiling, slow rate of climb and relative lack of manoeuvrability. So alternatively the engine was mounted forward and the cockpit was positioned to the back. This and some more minor changes led to the design of the Model 3. But calculations proved no advantage of this model compared to the P-39 “Aircrobra”, so the project was not further followed (Ref.: 13).
POWER PLANT: Wright R-2160-6 Tornado, rated at 2,500 h.p.
PERFORMANCE: 453 m.p.h.
COMMENT: This project was designed as a fast high altitude fighter capable of intercepting and destroying high altitude enemy bombers. The design incorporated new innovations such as a pressurized cabin, laminar flow wing, and contra-rotating propellers. A mock-up was built, but the project was cancelled because the Wright R-2160 42-cylinder engine was never produced. In 1944 Republic modified a two P-47D’s for testing Chrysler XI-2220 inverted-Vee liquid-cooled engines (Republic XP-47H). This made an extremely finely-streamlined cowling of low frontal area necessary similar that project shown here.
POWER PLANT: One Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,100 hp at 30,000ft, driving contra-rotating propellers via extension shaft
PERFORMANCE: Data not available
COMMENT: Work on this unusual design started in in 1939. In order to keep the fuselage aerodynamically as clean as possible the engine was mounted in the mid-fuselage, driving counter-rotating three bladed pusher propellers via an extension shaft. Another advantage of the buried engine was enough room for heavy cannon armament in the nose. Thus the pilot had an excellent view and a wide field of fire. Although this fighter project was never realized it was the basis for many other pusher-type aircraft e.g. Bell XP-52, Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose, Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender, Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet, and Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster.