Curtiss XP-55 Ascender


The 'Ass-Ender'


The first XP-55, serial 42-78845, with Curtiss test pilot Harvey Gray behind the stick.


Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image


This view illustrates the type's slim profile.


Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image


A closer look at the cockpit area...


Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image


An atmospheric color shot of 42-78845 during an engine run-up at St. Louis on October 16th, 1943.


National Air and Space Museum (Hans Groenhoff Photographic Collection) - Larger Image


XP-55 42-78845's first flight took place on July 19th, 1943... its last flight took place just
under four months later, on November 15th, 1943. Harvey Gray was doing some stall testing when
the ship suddenly rolled inverted. At the same time it had spun 180 degrees on its wingtip and
when it leveled out, the ship was pointing in the direction from which it had come. The engine
stalled and the ship fell straight down... still inverted. Unable to regain control, Gray
struggled to get out... the airplane fell at least 15,000 feet before he was able to hit the silk.


San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives


Source



The port side of XP-55 42-78846... this ship survives today. She's owned by the NASM,
but is on loan to the Kalamazoo Air Zoo where she was restored and is currently on display.


Project 914 Archives (S.Donacik collection) - Larger Image


For more information about the XP-55, see Joe Baugher's excellent write-up HERE...


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