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The Curtiss XP-55 Ascender was a tailless swept-wing WWII pusher fighter design born out by the USAAC 1940 fighter
competition. The USAAC was looking for a fighter to counter the threat of the German Bf-109 and the Japanese Zero and
replace the obsolete P-35s, P-36s and the front line P-40s just entering service. From this competition three unusual
pusher prototypes were ordered, the Consolidated XP-54, Curtiss XP-55, and the Northrop XP-56. A low powered full scale
flying model (model CW 24B)was built out of wood and cloth to substantiate the flying qualities, and was first flown on
December 2, 1941. The XP-55 mock-up was completed in August 1942, and the first of three XP-55s was completed on June
26,1943 with its first flight being conducted on July 13, 1943. The first aircraft was destroyed on November 15, 1943.
Changes deemed necessary were incorporated in the second airframe in which performance testing began on September 16,
1944. Although the much more capable P-38, P-47, and P-51 had entered service, research into the XP-55s unusual design
continued. The third XP-55 had entered flight testing in April 1944 and was used at Eglin Field for armament tests
before being lost during a war bond rally display on May 27, 1945. By then, the program had been terminated. Today, the
second XP-55 presides in restored condition at the Kalamazoo Air Museum.