Consolidated-Vultee XP-81
1945
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Consolidated-Vultee XP-81

The Consolidated Vultee XP-81 (its newly-merged builder soon to be better known as Convair) was the first American aircraft powered by a turboprop engine. Ordered by the USAAF on 11 February 1944, the XP-81 was intended as a long-range escort fighter using compound power, with one 1230kW General Electric TG-100 turbo-prop and one 1701kg thrust Allison I-40 jet engine, eventually designated J33-A-5. When delays with the turboprop powerplant were encountered, the prototype XP-81 was flown on 11 February 1945 with a Packard V-1650-7 Merlin installed temporarily in the nose. The first flight with the intended turboprop engine followed on 21 December 1945 and, to the astonishment of pilots and observers, the turboprop provided no advantage in performance over the Merlin! A second XP-81 flew in early 1946 to join the first machine in exploring the potential for this unusual powerplant, but several factors (war's end, the disappointing results with the TG-100, and the evident, superiority of pure jet designs) resulted in cancellation of an order for 13 YP-81 service-test aircraft.

Both XF-81 airframes have survived, albeit in poor condition, and are today derelict on a test range at Edwards AFB, California, known until 1949 simply as Muroc Dry Lake.


Specification 
 WEIGHTS
    Take-off weight12700 kg27999 lb
    Empty weight5785 kg12754 lb
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan15.39 m51 ft 6 in
    Length13.67 m45 ft 10 in
    Height4.27 m14 ft 0 in
    Wing area139.48 m21501.35 sq ft
 PERFORMANCE
    Max. speed815 km/h506 mph
    Cruise speed442 km/h275 mph
    Ceiling10800 m35450 ft
    Range4000 km2486 miles
 ARMAMENT6 x 12.7mm guns or 6 x 20mm cannon planned, 1450kg of underwing bombs

Comments
Steve, 15.02.2017

Turboprops took longer to get right than seems to have been expected. Photos and drawings of this airplane often show prominent fairings under the outer wings. What were they for? They're much bigger than a pylon for bombs/tanks and appear to be in the wrong place to be brass/link catchers for the guns.

satan, 07.01.2015

Oh hi Mike,

I've got your room ready. Looking forward to your arrival!

Take care!

Satan

P.S. you don't need to bring anything.

Mike Trout miketrouttriplecrow, 04.03.2013

Hail Satan

Klaatu83, 23.09.2012

The mixed-power fighter concept seems to have held a great deal of appeal during the latter part of World War II as a possible solution to the problem of providing long-range escort to strategic bombers (low-fuel consumption cruise on the propeller engine, and cut in the jet engine during combat, when maximum performance was required). Unfortunately, this particular example of the genre took too long to develop, and appeared too late, to make a difference.

Michael McMurtrey, 22.01.2012

In 1994 I helped recover one of the XP-81s. It was one of several obsolete airframes used as photo targets on the photogrammetry range.It had been vandalized some over the years but not shot up.

Stu, 28.09.2011

Apparently the XP-81 wreckage has been salvaged from the desert and sent to the AF museum at Wright Patterson for possible restoration.

Chris, 23.07.2010

The problem is they are used as targets and there are several problems to restore it when it is...
1. Sitting in a "minefield"
2. Ripped to shreds
3. Being used as a target (replacement?)

Other than that it would bring a smile to my face to see all
those great airframes restored.

troy koivisto, 05.11.2009

this aircraft stinks

bill, 05.11.2009

hi troy u stink at running

bill, 05.11.2009

hi troy u stink at running

mike, 05.11.2009

what was the date and year these were built?

Mike, 20.09.2009

Someone should restore those airframes over at Edwards for future generations.

CASTLE22R, 13.06.2008

A truly remarkable plane.

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