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Bell XP-76
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Bell Aircraft Corporation
First flight 1942
Introduction n/a
Status Did not enter mass-production
Primary user United States Air Force
Number built 0 (3 prototypes built as XP-39Es)
Developed from P-39 Airacobra

The Bell P-76 was the proposed designation for a production model derivative of the XP-39E, a single-engine United States fighter aircraft prototype of World War II.

BackgroundEdit

On 26 February 1941 the USAAC placed a contract with Bell allowing for the purchase of two XP-39Es (41-19501 and 41-19502) which were envisaged to be a major improvement on the P-39D series. Because of the number of changes proposed the production model was to be called the Bell P-76.

The Bell P-76 was proposed to address the poor high-altitude performance of the P-39 Airacobra by incorporating a new and thicker wing with a symmetrical airfoil; the section chosen was NACA 0018 at the wing-root tapering to an NACA 23009 at the tip. Although the new wing has often been referred to as a laminar flow type, this was not the case.[1] The wing span was increased to 35 ft 10 in (10.9 m) and the area to 236 ft² (21.9 m²), the thicker wing allowing an increase in the fuel capacity to 150 US gallons (568 l).[2]

Design of a new Allison V-1710-E9 was also underway. This version, which had the military designation of V-1710-47, used a two-stage mechanical supercharger to increase the engine power at altitude. However, this engine went through so many design changes that it ended up being almost identical to the later V-1710-93 which was fitted in the XP-63A.[2]

Another change was the engine bay was modified to accept a more powerful engine in lieu of the V-1710. Its origins lie in the 1941 project to equip three P-39D (41-19501, 41-19502 and 42-7164) with the Continental V-1430-1 liquid-cooled supercharged engine. The resultant XP-39E had a symmetrical airfoil wing with square wingtips, an elongated fuselage to accommodate the larger engine, and revised air intakes and radiators. The three prototypes each had a different tailfin. Since the Continental engine was not available at rollout, the prototypes flew with Allison V-1710-47 engines. In 1942, the XP-39E was redesignated XP-76. Although 4,000 aircraft were initially ordered, the order was cancelled to permit the Bell factory to manufacture B-29 Superfortress bomber aircraft under license from Boeing. Many of the lessons learned in the XP-76 were implemented in the subsequent Bell P-63 Kingcobra.

Specifications (XP-76)Edit

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 31 ft 11 in (9.7 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 10 in (10.9 m)
  • Height: ft in (m)
  • Wing area: 236 ft² (21.9 m²)
  • Empty weight: 6,936 lb (3,150 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 8,918 lb (4,050 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Continental I-1430-1, 2,100 hp (1,600 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 386 mph (335 knots, 620 km/h) at 21,680 ft (6,600 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,150 ft/min (11 m/s)</ul>Armament
  • Guns:
  • Bombs: 500 lb (227 kg) externally
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See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. UIUC incomplete guide to Airfoil usage Retrieved: 9 August 2008
  2. 2.0 2.1 Bowers 1979, pp.21-25.

BibliographyEdit

  • Bowers, Peter M. "Airborne Cobra Pt.II". Airpower magazine, Vol.9, No.1, January 1979.
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