Bell XP-59 (Model 16)

The Bell XP-59 was the designation given to a short-lived project to produce a twin-boom pusher fighter powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engine.

The XP-59 was developed from (or possibly at the same time as) the similar XP-52. That aircraft was to be powered by the Continental XIV-1430-5 liquid cooled engine, but that engine ran into serious development problems.

The XP-59 was a very futuristic looking design. The central fuselage would have contained the pilot’s cockpit and two 20mm cannon at the front, with the engine at the rear driving a pair of six-blade contra-rotating Hamilton Standard propellers. The aircraft was to have slightly swept back wings. Three .50in machine guns were to be carried in each boom.

At first work on the XP-59 was carried out alongside work on the XP-52, but on 25 November 1941 the earlier project was cancelled in favour of the newer, larger, heavier but potentially faster aircraft. Bell received an order to produce two prototypes, and work began on a mock-up, but the project was cancelled before work began on the prototypes.

After the cancellation of the original XP-59 the same designation was given to the Bell P-59 Airacomet, which would become the first American jet fighter.

Proposed statistics
Engine: Pratt & Whitney R-2800-23
Horsepower: 2,000
Wingspan: 40ft
Length: 37ft 3in
Empty weight: 7,960lb
Maximum weight: 10,463lb
Maximum speed: 450mph at 22,000 feet
Range: 850 miles at 380mph
Climb to 20,000ft: 6.3 minutes
Ceiling: 38,000ft
Armament: two 20mm cannon in nose, six .50in machine guns in booms

Bell P-39 Airacobra, Robert F. Dorr with Jerry C. Scutts (Crowood Aviation). A detailed looked at the development and service history of this controversial American fighter aircraft. The P-39 had a poor reputation amongst British and American pilots, and Dorr examines the reasons why, as well as looking at why the same aircraft was so much more popular in Soviet Service. Scutts provides a chapter on the P-63 Kingcobra, and the book also covers the numerous Bell fighter projects that failed to enter production.
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (4 July 2008), Bell XP-59 (Model 16) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_XP-59.html

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