In 1941 Bell Aircraft Corporation began designing what would become the United State's first jet fighter. General Electric provided the jet engines, based on a British design. Indeed, it was the proximity to the G.E. plant that led to Bell receiving the contract. Only about 66 examples were built up through 1944. Flown for test and evaluation for the USAAF, the P-59 was found to have inadequate performance and proved to be an indifferent gun platform. As a result no further examples were built. Some of the lessons learned with the P-59 came in handy with the Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star, which was more successful as an early jet fighter.
For more data on this aircraft, click
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USAF archives on this aircraft, click here.
Additional information on this aircraft can be found at Wikipedia here.
(updated February 2009)
Bell P-59 Airacomet
Type: single-seat jet fighter Crew: 1 Armament: one 37mm M4 cannon in nose three .50 cal machine guns in nose Specifications: Length: 38' 1.5" (11.62 m) Height: 12' 0" (3.66 m) Wingspan: 45' 6" (13.87 m) Wing area: 385.8 sq. ft (35.84 sq. m) Empty Weight: 8165 lb (3704 kg) Max Weight: 13,700 lb (6214 kg) max at takeoff Propulsion: No. of Engines: 2 Powerplant: General Electric J31-GE-5 turbojet Horsepower: 2000 lb (907kg) thrust each Performance: Range: 400 miles (644 km) Cruise Speed: 375 mph ( 604 km/h) Max Speed: 409 mph ( 658 km/h) at 35,000 ft Ceiling: 46,200 ft (14,080 m)
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