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Bell P-59B Airacomet

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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Find Out More
Cockpit360 Images
View the P-59B Cockpit
Dr. S. Mike Pavelec: "Jet Race and the Second World War" (00:55:50)