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.
| Take-off weight||12700 kg||27999 lb|
| Empty weight||5785 kg||12754 lb|
| Wingspan||15.39 m||51 ft 6 in|
| Length||13.67 m||45 ft 10 in|
| Height||4.27 m||14 ft 0 in|
| Wing area||139.48 m2||1501.35 sq ft|
| Max. speed||815 km/h||506 mph|
| Cruise speed||442 km/h||275 mph|
| Ceiling||10800 m||35450 ft|
| Range||4000 km||2486 miles|
| ARMAMENT||6 x 12.7mm guns or 6 x 20mm cannon planned, 1450kg of underwing bombs|
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.
Oh hi Mike,
I've got your room ready. Looking forward to your arrival!
P.S. you don't need to bring anything.
|Mike Trout miketrouttriplecrow, 04.03.2013|
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.
Apparently the XP-81 wreckage has been salvaged from the desert and sent to the AF museum at Wright Patterson for possible restoration.
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
hi troy u stink at running
hi troy u stink at running
what was the date and year these were built?
Someone should restore those airframes over at Edwards for future generations.
A truly remarkable plane.
Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?