The XP-72 was a modification of the basic P-47 airframe redesigned for the Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major radial engine. The aircraft had a close-fitted engine cowling and a supercharger placed behind the cockpit. The supercharger air inlet was moved to the wing root and gave the aircraft its distinctive "large-belly" shape. The XP-72 was capable of accelerating to 490 mph. at 25,000 feet and was to be used to intercept German V-1 Buzz Bombs.
The maiden flight of the first XP-72 built (S/N 43-36598) was on Feb. 2, 1944. This aircraft had a conventional four-bladed propeller, but the second aircraft (S/N 43-36599) featured an Aero Products contra-rotating propeller. The excellent performance of the prototype aircraft resulted in a contract for 100 P-72s. These aircraft were to be armed with four 37mm cannon instead of the machine guns on the prototypes; however, the Army Air Force canceled the production contract before any aircraft were built because of the greater need for long-range escort fighters in Europe.
Improved P-47; V-1 interceptor
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Six .50-cal. machine guns (production version designed for four 37mm cannon and two 1,000 lb. bombs) Engine: One supercharged Pratt & Whitney R-4360 of 3,500 hp Maximum speed: 490 mph Cruising speed: 300 mph Range: 1,200 mi. Service ceiling: 42,000 ft. Span: 40 ft. 11 in. Length: 36 ft. 7 in. Height: 16 ft. 0 in. Crew: One