The L.O.O.T.M. Archive

Lust Object of the Month

March 2008


Curtiss XP-31
A good view of the underwing struts and fixed gear, along with the sleek nose of the little fighter.
The Wright-engined Swift.  Note the open wheel pants.

 

Nice view of the XP-31 in flight with the canopy slid open.  The gun pack is just above the wing.
Colorful little airplane.  The nearly full span leading edge slats are quite visible in this figure.
 

A very good side-by-side comparison of the Swift with the Conqueror engine and the Wright radial.

Curtiss manufactured a pretty little pursuit aircraft in the mid-30s, the XP-31 "Swift."  It was a blend of technology from biplanes and monoplanes, a sort of missing link between the two design philosophies.  The Swift was the last Army fighter to have fixed landing gear, and the strut bracing was an echo of biplane fighters of yore.  But the all-metal construction and the single wing were literally the shape of things to come.

While Curtiss originally wanted to equip the aircraft with the Curtiss Conqueror liquid-cooled V-12 engine (600 HP), the Army was convinced that the Conqueror engine was at its developmental limits.  So the Swift was fitted with two different radial engines--a Wright Cyclone (700 HP) and a Pratt & Whitney Wasp (600 HP).  These engines drastically altered the sleek lines of the cowling.  Later, the fighter was to revert to the slim Conqueror engine.

The XP-31 was armed with two .30 caliber machine guns in the engine cowling, and two more .30 caliber guns in packs mounted on the fuselage sides below the cockpit.    The plane's weight was too much of a weakness to overcome with the XP-31's design strengths; however, and it ended up on history's "cutting room floor."  Unfortunately the aircraft did not survive after being sent to an Air Corp mechanics' school in 1936.

The March LOOTM is the Curtiss XP-31 Swift.  Enjoy.