The XP-55 (Curtiss Model 249C), along with the XP-54 and XP-56, resulted from Army Air Corps proposal R-40C calling for unconventional aircraft designs. Like the XP-54, the Ascender was initially designed for the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine and had to be redesigned when the engine project was canceled. The XP-55 first flew on July 13, 1943, with an Allison V-1710 engine. The aircraft experienced stability problems and had modifications to increase the canard elevator surface, vertical stabilizer area and eventually received wing tip extensions.
The performance of the XP-55 prototype aircraft was roughly the same as conventional fighters of the time and never entered production. Three XP-55 Ascenders were produced (S/N 42-78845 through 42-78847) in addition to one full scale powered prototype, the Curtiss Model CW-24B (S/N 42-39347).
Pusher aircraft; fwd. canard tail
TECHNICAL NOTES: 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. 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