BERNHARD C.F. KLEIN COLLECTION
No. 9699. Vultee 84 XP-54 (41-1210) US Army Air Forces
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Vultee 84 XP-54

01/31/2010. An outgrowth of the Vultee Model 78 project and built by the Vultee Field Division of the Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Company, the Model 84 was one of three designs awarded development contracts as a result of an informal design contest (Circular Proposal R-40C) initiated by the USAAC on November 27, 1939. The USAAC contract AC15019 issued on January 8, 1941, covered a prototype, designated XP-54, s/n 41-1210.

Powered by a turbo-supercharged 2,300 hp Lycoming XH-2470-1 24-cylinder liquid-cooled engine, the XP-54 embodied a number of novel features, including a "ducted wing section" embodying the oil and coolant radiators and intercoolers. A pivoting (ie +3 to -6) nose section contained two 1.46 in (37 mm) T-12/T-13 cannon mounted rigidly and two 0.50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns on movable mountings, different elevations being adopted to compensate for the differing trajectories of the two types of weapon.

An electrically-operated pilot's seat also served as a lift to provide cockpit access and egress, and the XP-54 was also one of the first single-seat fighters designed for cabin pressurization. In an emergency, the elevator seat would be catapulted downward clear of the propeller, making the XP-54 the first American fighter to be fitted with an ejector seat.

Four months before the planned first flight date, the USAAC ordered a second prototype under the same contract and allotted the s/n 42-108994 on March 17, 1942. The first flight of the first prototype was delayed however till January 15, 1943, when it was flown by test pilot Frank Davis from Muroc Dry Lake (now known as Edwards AFB). The aircraft was finished in an olive-green color scheme with the exception of the rudders being painted in a lighter color. Later the rudders were also finished in green, while also fin fillets had been placed.

The second XP-54 made its first flight on May 24, 1944, when it was flown from Downey to Norton AFB, California, however the performance of the XP-54 fell appreciably below specification and, in consequence, further development was discontinued. The XP-54 was nicknamed Swoose Goose.

Created January 31, 2010