The Detroit Lockheed YP-24 was a prototype for a two seat monoplane fighter that was purchased by the USAAC, but not placed into production. However it did lead to the later Lockheed P-30, which was produced in small numbers.
The Army Air Corps had ordered a number of Lockheed transport aircraft, in particular the Y1C-12 and Y1C-17, based on the Lockheed Vega and the Y1C-23, based on the Lockheed Altair. These aircraft all performed impressively. As a result the Air Corps was interested in developing a two-seat monoplane fighter with a retractable undercarriage, a significant move from the fixed undercarriage biplanes that it then operated. However the Air Corps didn’t have the budget to actually order a prototype, so Detroit-Lockheed agreed to built one at their own expense.
The prototype was given the Wright Field project number XP-900 and was designed by Robert J. Woods. It had a metal fuselage and tail surfaces and wooden wings, and was powered by a 600hp Curtiss Conqueror V-1570-23 engine, which drove a three bladed propeller. Both crew had an enclosed cockpit, with the gunner facing backwards to operate a single flexibly mounted 0.30in machine gun. There was also a fixed 0.30in and a fixed 0.50in gin in the nose.
The XP-900 was delivered to Wright Field on 29 September 1931. It was then purchased by the Army Air Corps, and designated as the YP-24. The new aircraft proved to be 40mph faster than the two seat Berliner-Joyce P-16 it was meant to replaced and 20mph faster than the Curtiss P-6E single seat fighter.
The Air Corps was suitably impressed, and decided to order five Y1P-24 two seat fighters and four Y1A-9 attack aircraft, which was modified to be more effective at low level and to carry bombs.
The P-24 would have been the Air Corp's first low-wing monoplane fighter with a retractable undercarriage and enclosed cockpits, but on 19 October 1931 the prototype was lost after the test pilot was ordered to bale out instead of risking a wheels-up landing.
Soon afterwards Detroit-Lockheed went bankrupt. For a time the P-24 project appeared to have died with it, but Robert Woods then joined Consolidating, taking his design with him. The P-24 evolved into the all-metal Consolidated Y1P-25, before entering production as the Consolidated P-30 and Consolidated A-11.
Engines: Curtiss Conqueror V-1570-23
Wing span: 42ft 9.5in
Length: 28ft 9in
Height: 8ft 6in
Empty weight: 3,010lb
Loaded weight: 4,360lb
Maximum speed: 235mph
Cruising speed: 215mph
Service ceiling: 25,000ft
Rate of climb: 1,820ft/ min
Normal range: 556 miles
Lockheed Aircraft Since 1913, René J Francillon