Published October 09, 2015
DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell P-59B Airacomet at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Restoration staff move the Bell P-59B into the new fourth building at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Oct. 8, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
Bell P-59B Airacomet in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
DAYTON, Ohio -- Bell P-59B Airacomet cockpit view in the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ken LaRock)
This is one of three XP-59A prototypes. The first prototype XP-59A flew in the fall of 1942 at Muroc Dry Lake (now Edwards Air Force Base), Calif. (U.S. Air Force photo)
To maintain secrecy, prototype Airacomets were towed to and from the flightline with a fake propeller and a cover over the engine exhausts and intakes. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Designed and built in great secrecy during World War II, the P-59 was America's first jet aircraft. Although it never saw combat, the Airacomet provided training for USAAF personnel and invaluable data for the development of higher performance jet airplanes.
The P-59 was powered by two General Electric turbojets developed from the British Whittle engine. Unfortunately, the relatively low thrust of the XP-59’s engines and its heavy, conventional airframe design resulted in disappointing performance.
Bell built 50 P-59A and P-59B production aircraft, some of which were flown by the 412th Fighter Group, the U.S.’s first jet fighter unit. The P-59B on display was obtained from Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., in February 1956.
Weight: 10,532 lbs. loaded
Armament: One 37mm cannon and three .50-cal. machine guns
Engines: Two General Electric J-31s of 1,650 lbs. thrust each
Maximum speed: 450 mph
Range: 440 miles
Service ceiling: 43,400 feet
Click here to return to the Research & Development Gallery.
Please note Springfield Street, the road that leads to the museum’s entrance, is undergoing construction through the beginning of September. Expect lane reductions and some delays. Please follow the signs and instructions provided by the road crews.
The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is located at:
1100 Spaatz Street
Wright-Patterson AFB OH 45433
(near Dayton, Ohio)