Role Fighter aircraft
National origin United States
Manufacturer Douglas Aircraft Company
Status Cancelled 1940
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built None

The Douglas XP-48 was a small, lightweight fighter aircraft, designed by Douglas Aircraft in 1939 for evaluation by the U.S. Army Air Corps. Intended to be powered by a small inline piston engine, the contract was cancelled before a prototype could be constructed, due to the Army's concerns about the projected performance of the aircraft.[1]


In the years before the outbreak of World War II, a number of countries became intrigued by the idea of developing a very light fighter aircraft,[2] with these proposals often being derived from the design of racing aircraft. Following the consideration of a modified French Caudron racer by the U.S. Army Air Corps, a proposition that was considered uneconomical,[2] Douglas Aircraft made an unsolicited proposal to the Army Air Corps of their Model 312 design in 1939.[2]

Design and cancellation

Intended to be powered by a Ranger XV-770 inverted V-12 engine equipped with a supercharger, Douglas' proposal was considered worth pursuing by the Army Air Corps, and on 5 August 1939 a single prototype was ordered. The Model 312 was given the Army designation XP-48, the 48th aircraft type in the Pursuit category.[3]

Closely resembling the later Bell XP-77,[4] the design of the XP-48 featured a wing of remarkably high aspect ratio, and was equipped with a pair of synchronized machine guns for armament,[3] Douglas touted the XP-48 as offering outstanding performance, with a top speed of at least 350 miles per hour (560 km/h),[3] and, according to Douglas' estimates, possibly as high as 525 miles per hour (845 km/h).[5]

However, this very aspect of its design was regarded with suspicion by the Army Air Corps.[3] The Ranger engine was suffering from development difficulties and delays and would never prove truly reliable.[6] At the same time, Douglas' performance estimates became increasingly regarded as being over-optimistic.[7] Accordingly, in February 1940 the Army cancelled the XP-48 contract,[3] and without government funding Douglas ceased development of the aircraft.[5]

Specifications (XP-48)

Data from [5][8]

General characteristics



See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ "Douglas XP-48" Archived May 15, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. National Museum of the United States Air Force. Accessed May 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c Norton 2008, p. 156
  3. ^ a b c d e Norton 2008, p. 157
  4. ^ AAHS Journal, Volume 28, Number 2. Summer 1983. American Aviation Historical Society
  5. ^ a b c Angelucci 1987, p. 183.
  6. ^ Adcock 1991, p. 45
  7. ^ Brown et al. 1961, p. 64
  8. ^ Francillon 1979


  • Adcock, Al. OS2U Kingfisher in action. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1991. ISBN 0-89747-270-5.
  • Angelucci, Enzo. The American Fighter from 1917 to the present. New York: Orion, 1987. ISBN 0-517-56588-9.
  • Brown, Kimbrough et al. U.S. Army and Air Force Fighters, 1916-1961. Letchworth, UK: Harleyford Publications, 1961. ASIN B001YTWMPC
  • Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1.
  • Norton, Bill. U.S. Experimental & Prototype Aircraft Projects: Fighters 1939–1945. North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 2008. ISBN 978-1-58007-109-3.
USAAS/USAAC/USAAF/USAF fighter designations 1924–1962, and Tri-Service post-1962 systems