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Yenchu YP-1

The XP-1 was a single-seat fighter aircraft with a unique forward-swept gull-wing design.

Its forward and middle fuselage, as well as wing spars, were made of 4130 chromium-molybdenum steel.

The wings and rear fuselage, including the tail section, rudder, and elevator, were made of a mixture of aircraft fabric and a special laminated wood material developed by the Aeronautical Research Institute.

The metal-based middle fuselage and wooden-based rear fuselage were joined by torsionally joining four bolts.

The XP-1’s control surfaces were made of metal ropes, connecting the forward fuselage to the tail where they connected with the rudder and elevators.

Although not proven, the XP-1 is believed to have taken inspiration from Western aircraft designs.

For instance, the forward fuselage bears a resemblance to the American Republic P-43 Lancer or P-47 Thunderbolt designs, while the tail resembles that of the Curtiss-Wright CW-21 Demon.

The XP-1 was powered by a single Wright Aeronautical Cyclone radial engine capable of producing 710 hp (529 kW) paired with a three-blade propeller.

It also had to meet the requirement of at least 580 km/h (360 mph) set by the Aeronautical Research Institute.

The cockpit gauges and instruments intended to be used were of American origin, while the cockpit canopy was American-based but modified.

The canopy appears similar to the ones used on the American Curtiss P-36 Hawk or Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, both used by China.

The landing gears could be retracted or extended using a hydraulic system.

The XP-1 would also have had navigation lights installed on the left and right wings.

Unfortunately, the intended armament for the XP-1 remains a mystery.

The prototypes were unarmed, and interviews with former workers in China’s wartime aviation industry revealed no information regarding the XP-1’s armaments.

It is suggested that the XP-1 would have likely had the Danish 20 mm Madsen cannon, French Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20 mm cannon, or the American 12.7 mm Browning AN/M2 machine gun.

However, there is no supporting evidence to substantiate these claims.

In an article by Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation engineer and aviation historian Li Shizhang, it was passively implied that the XP-1 would have had machine guns.

The most common type of machine gun available in China at the time for aircraft use was the American 12.7 mm Browning AN/M2.

It is also a possibility that a set armament was not even considered yet, as the team needed to validate and obtain flight characteristics of the XP-1 before making further modifications.

The XP-1’s prototype was built in Guiyang, with raw materials provided by the Aeronautical Research Institute in Chengdu and its Plywood and Aircraft Fabric Manufacturing Plants.

One of the problems faced by the factory while constructing the prototype was locating an engine.

The XP-1 was designed with a Wright Aeronautical Cyclone radial engine, but this engine type was scarce due to prioritisation for serviced Lend-Lease fighters.

The team had originally requested the allocation of two engines, but this order went unfulfilled.

The factory was able to locate an engine from a crashed Douglas C-47 Skytrain, which was repaired, and the 2nd AFAMF was requested to rebuild the propellers.

Once the engine was mounted, it was found that the XP-1 prototype was too nose-heavy, requiring counterweights in the aircraft’s rear fuselage to maintain the aircraft’s centre of gravity.

This increased the weight, impacting the aircraft’s performance.

The design team estimated that the increase in weight would reduce the aircraft’s range.

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