A wind tunnel model of the XP-59
Role Fighter
Manufacturer Bell Aircraft Corporation
Status Canceled October 1940 (XP-52)
Canceled 25 November 1941 (XP-59)
Number built None

The Bell XP-52 and subsequent XP-59 were World War II fighter aircraft design projects by the American Bell Aircraft Corporation.

Both projects featured a twin-boom layout with a rear-mounted engine driving pusher contra-rotating propellers.

When the XP-59 project was canceled the designation XP-59A was used as a cover for a secret jet fighter prototype, which would enter production as the P-59 Airacomet.


The intended engine – the Continental X-1430 in the National Museum of the United States Air Force

The XP-52 design was begun by the Bell Company in 1940, separate from the R-40C competition, under the Air Material Command designator MX-3.

The short fuselage carried a piston engine in the rear, driving a pair of contra-rotating propellers in a pusher configuration. The wings were swept back at an angle of 20 degrees, with a horizontal stabilizer mounted behind the propeller on twin booms running back from the wings. The fuselage was unusually streamlined, being round and barrel-shaped, with the forward-located pilot's cockpit fully faired-in to its lines and the nose ending in a round air intake which was ducted back internally to the engine.[1] The undercarriage was a tricycle arrangement, with the main wheels retracting into the tailbooms. Propulsion was to be provided by the experimental Continental XIV-1430-3 inverted V-12 engine.[2]

The XP-52 was canceled in October 1940 because the XIV-1430 engine ran into technical difficulties. Bell submitted a similar design to the US Navy as the Model 19, but this too was never built.[3]


Although generally similar in layout to the XP-52, the XP-59 was slightly larger and heavier, and was to be powered by a Pratt and Whitney R-2800-23 engine of 2,000 horsepower (1,500 kW).[1] Two prototypes were ordered in February 1941.[3]

On 3 October 1941 the contract for Bell's first jet fighter was signed. The prototype was designated the XP-59A and it would enter production as the P-59 Airacomet. The original XP-59 was canceled on November 25, 1941 because Bell itself was pre-occupied with development of the Bell P-63 Kingcobra.[1][3]

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists


  1. ^ a b c Jones, L.; US Fighters, Aero, 1975.
  2. ^ Jenkins, Dennis R. and Tony R. Landis. Experimental & Prototype U.S. Air Force Jet Fighters. North Branch, Minnesota, USA: Specialty Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58007-111-6.
  3. ^ a b c Buttler, Tony, and Griffith, Alan, 2015. American Secret Projects: Fighters, Bombers, and Attack Aircraft, 1937–1945. Manchester: Crecy Publishing. ISBN 978-1906537487.
USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF fighter designations 1924–1962, and Tri-Service post-1962 systems