The Bell XP-52 (Model 16) was one of a number of unusual designs for fighter aircraft produced in the United States during the Second World War. Bell’s design was for a twin boomed fighter, with the engine located behind the pilot in the central pod and powering two 9ft contra-rotating Hamilton Standard pusher propellers. The aircraft was to be armed with three .50in machine guns in each boom, with 3,000 rounds of ammunition and two 20mm cannon in the central pod, each with 100 rounds.
The XP-52 was the first pusher design to receive an official USAAF fighter designation, but unlike the Vultee XP-54, Curtiss XP-55 and Northrop XP-56 pusher aircraft, the XP-52 would never be built. The XP-52 was designed around the new Continental XIV-1430-5 12-cylinder double bank inverted-V liquid cooled engine, but work on that engine soon stalled. At the same time Bell’s engineers had developed a similar but somewhat larger aircraft based around the Pratt & Whitney R-2800-23 engine, and on 25 November 1941 work on the XP-52 was officially cancelled in favour of this new aircraft, which was given the designation XP-59.
Engine: Continental XIV-1430-5 12-cylinder double bank inverted-V liquid cooled
Length: 34ft 9in
Empty weight: 6,480lb
Maximum weight: 8,200lb
Maximum speed: 435mph at 19,500 feet
Range: 960 miles
Climb to 20,000ft: 6.3 minutes
Armament: two 20mm cannon in nose, six .50in machine guns in booms
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