Bell P-59B Airacomet
Published October 09, 2015
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
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