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Vultee XP-54

The Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose was a prototype fighter built for the United States Army Air Forces.

Only two prototypes were built.

Vultee submitted a proposal in response to a U.S. Army Air Corps request for an unusual configuration.

The Vultee design won the competition, beating the Curtiss XP-55 Ascender and the Northrop XP-56 Black Bullet.

Vultee designated it Model 84, a descendant of their earlier Model 78.

After completing preliminary engineering and wind tunnel tests, a contract for a prototype was awarded on 8 January 1941.

A second prototype was ordered on 17 March 1942.

Although it appeared to be a radical design, performance was lacklustre, and the project was cancelled.

The XP-54 was designed with a pusher engine in the aft part of the fuselage.

The tail was mounted rearward between two mid-wing booms, with the twelve-foot propeller between them.

The design included a “ducted wing section” developed by the NACA to potentially enable installation of cooling radiators and intercoolers in the inverted gull wing.

The Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine was proposed as the powerplant, but after its development was discontinued the liquid-cooled Lycoming XH-2470 was substituted.

In September 1941, the XP-54 mission was changed from low-altitude to high-altitude interception.

Consequently, a turbo-supercharger and heavier armour was added, and empty weight increased to 18,000 lb (5,200 to 8,200 kg).

The XP-54 was unique in numerous ways.

The pressurized cockpit required a complex entry system: the pilot’s seat acted as an elevator for cockpit access from the ground.

The pilot lowered the seat electrically, sat in it, and raised it into the cockpit.

Bail-out procedure was complicated by the pressurization system, necessitating a downward ejection of the pilot and seat to clear the propeller arc.

Also, the nose section could pivot through the vertical, three degrees up and six degrees down.

In the nose, two 37 mm T-9 cannon were in rigid mounts while two .50 cal machine guns were in movable mounts.

Movement of the nose and machine guns was controlled by a special compensating gun sight.

Thus, the cannon trajectory could be elevated without altering the flight attitude of the airplane.





54 ft 9 in (16.69 m)


53 ft 10 in (16.41 m)


14 ft 6 in (4.42 m)

Wing area

456 sq ft (42.4 m2)

Empty weight

15,262 lb (6,923 kg)

Gross weight

18,233 lb (8,270 kg)

Max take-off weight

19,337 lb (8,771 kg)


1 × Lycoming XH-2470-1 liquid-cooled piston engine,

2,300 shp (1,715 kW)


Maximum speed

381 mph (613 km/h, 331 kn) at 28,500 ft (8,700 m)


500 mi (805 km, 430 nmi)

Service ceiling

37,000 ft (11,300 m)

Rate of climb

2,300 ft/min (11.7 m/s)

Wing loading

40 lb/sq ft (196 kg/m2)


0.13 hp/lb (0.20 kW/kg)


2 × 37 mm T-12/T-13 cannon 100 rds

2 × .50 cal M2 Browning machine guns 580 rds.


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