Curtiss XP-55 Ascender

Curtiss XP-55 Ascender

Checked out the only surviving example of this experimental plane this weekend at the Kalamazoo Air Zoo.

Span: 40 ft. 7 in. (later 44 ft. 6 ft.)
Length: 29 ft. 7 in.
Height: 10 ft. 0 in.
Weight: 6,354 lbs. empty/7,710 lbs. gross
Armament: Four .50-cal. machine guns
Engine: Allison V-1710-95 of 1,275 hp

Maximum speed: 390 mph at 19,300 ft.
Service ceiling: 34,600 ft.

It’s currently the first plane you see, front and center, as you enter the newer building at the Air Zoo. Pictures in this building don’t turn out too well due to the “dramatic” lighting. I prefer the other building, but even that is crowded these days since the Air Zoo added a space exploration section and took a large chunk of the floor space from the aircraft.

Apparently the XP-55 was on display in the other building before, and someone got some pics. Check them out below.



More here.


  1. That was a nice layout. Too bad they didn’t understand how to make it stable in a stall. They needed to make the canard bigger and move it aft about 3 feet. The key is to make sure the tip vortex from the canard stays in contact with the wing. That’s the aerodynamic mechanism that causes the canard to stall before the wing does. That’s how you make a canard equipped airplane stable. The purpose of the cranked inboard section of the Long EZ wing is it attracts the canard tip vortex and keeps it from becoming detached from the wing. Had Rutan understood more about canards himself, he wouldn’t have failed so miserably with the Starship. It’s sad that a guy like him gets so much press while real airplane designers are relegated to the backwaters of aviation history these days. I’ll bet the XP-55 would have had the same pitch stability issues the Starship had if they’d ever been able to put the higher power engine in it and get it to higher speeds. It’s ironic how the forward elevator configuration started here and was later adopted by the Europeans, meanwhile we adopted the European aft mounted elevator configuration and now consider the canard to be very unconventional.

  2. Hi, came in from Mr. Copmpletely – Didn’t the Germans try somethgin similar but in a pusher-puller design? Anyhow, seeing the picture I remember that I had forgotten about this gem, growing up airplanes were my hot-button.