The Curtiss XP-10 was produced in response to a US Army requirement for a high altitude interceptor, but offered little improvement over the standard Hawk biplane and the single prototype was soon scrapped.
Work on the XP-10 began in response to a specification of May 1928, for a pursuit aircraft with good high altitude performance and manoeuvrability. Curtiss responded with the XP-10, receiving a contract on 18 June 1928, while Boeing produced the monoplane XP-9.
The most obvious innovation on the XP-10 was the use of gull wings. This was most obvious on the upper wing, where the elimination of the centre wing section removed the blind spot above and to the front of the pilot that would have been a particular problem if the XP-10 was climbing up towards a high flying target. The lower wings used an inverted gull-wing centre section, although as the wings were almost level with the bottom of the fuselage this wasn’t very obvious.
The XP-10 had staggered wings. Each of the main wheels was carried on a tripod of struts. The neat and aerodynamically clear wings were rather spoilt by a set of struts close to the fuselage. The rear of these struts connected to the rear leg of the tripod just outside the wing root. The front strut connected to the front leg of the tripod, meeting on the fuselage just in front of the leading edge of the lower wing. Apart from this rather bulky assemblage the entire aircraft was nicely streamlined, with a clean fuselage. The XP-10 was a new design and wasn’t related to Curtiss’s Hawk biplane family.
The biggest problem with the XP-10 was its use of wing skin radiators. These were aerodynamically very effective and were used on 1920s racers, but they involved fitting a large amount of exposed radiator piping directly onto the wings and were prone to leaks and vulnerable to damage. They were used on the Curtis PW-8, but not on the P-1 Hawk or P-6 Hawk.
The sole prototype XP-10 was delivered to the US Army in April 1930. In tests the radiators caused repeated problems while the new aircraft didn’t perform much better than the Curtiss P-6 Hawk, which used the same V-1570 Conqueror engine. The sole XP-10 was scrapped in April 1930, after only ten hours of flight time, making it a particularly short-lived design.
Engine: Curtiss V-1570-17
Span: 33ft 0in
Length: 24ft 6in
Height: 8ft 8in
Empty weight: 3,040lb
Gross weight: 3,975lb
Max speed: 191 mph at sea level, 215mph at 12,000ft
Climb Rate: 1,650ft/ min
Service ceiling: 26,500ft
Range: 461 miles
Armament: Two machine guns