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Consolidated P-30
Consolidated P-30 (US Air Force Photo)
Role Fighter aircraft
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Designed by Robert J. Woods
First flight January 1934
Status Retired
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Number built 60

The Consolidated P-30 (PB-2) was a 1930s United States two-seat fighter aircraft. An attack version called the A-11 was also built, along with two Y1P-25 prototypes and YP-27, Y1P-28, and XP-33 proposals. The P-30 is significant for being the first fighter in United States Army Air Corps service to have retractable landing gear, an enclosed and heated cockpit for the pilot, and an exhaust-driven turbosupercharger for altitude operation.

Contents

Design and development

The P-30 had its origins in the canceled Detroit-Lockheed YP-24/A-9. After collapse of the Detroit Aircraft Corporation in 1931, the chief YP-24 designer Robert J. Woods went to work for Consolidated Aircraft. Since the YP-24 was a victim of the Great Depression and not flawed design and the Army Air Corps was still interested in the type, Woods continued his work, producing the Y1P-25. The new aircraft differed from the YP-24 in being somewhat larger and having an all-metal wing and a turbosupercharged engine. The Y1P-25 and its sister attack version, the Y1A-11 armed with four forward-firing machine guns and racks for 400 lb (182 kg) of bombs, were ready for testing in December 1932. Although both prototypes were lost in crashes a week apart in January 1933, USAAC was pleased enough to order production of four P-30 fighters and four A-11 attack aircraft. Production versions differed from prototypes in having more powerful engines and revised landing gear and cockpit canopies.

Operational history

US Army Air Corps testing in January 1934 revealed good performance, especially at altitude. However, pilots questioned utility of the gunner who had a limited field of fire and was vulnerable to blackouts during hard maneuvering. Three P-30s were delivered to the 94th Pursuit Squadron at Selfridge Field. In December 1934, Army Air Corps ordered an additional 50 P-30A, redesignated PB-2A (Pursuit, Biplace), with further upgraded engines and onboard oxygen equipment for high altitude flying. On 17 October 1936, Lt. John M. Sterling flying a PB-2A won the Mitchell Trophy race with a speed of 217.5 mph (350.2 km/h). Although high-altitude flights were rare at the time, in March 1937, a PB-2A flew for 20 minutes at 39,300 feet (11,980 m). Since the PB-2A was one of the few aircraft at the time to have retractable landing gear, several were damaged in unintentional "wheels up" landings.

Consolidated attempted to further refine the design by proposing further variants:

None of these proposals advanced to prototype stage.

One PB-2A was converted to a single-seat configuration, proposed as a replacement for the USAAC's P-26 Peashooter fighter aircraft. However, this conversion was still too heavy for the role, and the sole aircraft crashed during early flight testing.

While generally trouble-free, the PB-2A was slow and heavy, and by 1939 all had been replaced in frontline service by Seversky P-35 and Curtiss P-36 Hawk aircraft.

The A-11 attack version failed to win a production order beyond the original four aircraft in spite of good performance because the USAAC wanted more durable radial engines for its attack aircraft. One was converted to the XA-11A testbed with the new Allison XV-1710-7 inline engine with 1,000 hp (746 kW).

Variants

  • Y1P-25 - further development of Lockheed YP-24, all-metal wing, Curtiss V-1570-27 Conqueror engine with 600 hp (448 kW) and turbosupercharger, 1 built
  • YP-27 - Pratt & Whitney R-1340-21G Wasp radial engine with 550 hp (410 kW), none built
  • Y1P-28 - Pratt & Whitney R-1340-19F Wasp with 600 hp (448 kW), none built
Consolidated A-11 (S/N 33-211, the last A-11 built) - National Museum of the USAF
  • P-30 (PB-2) - first production version of Y1P-25, V-1570-57 engine with 675 hp (504 kW) and turbosupercharger, 4 built
  • P-30A (PB-2A) - V-1570-61 engine with 700 hp (522 kW) and turbosupercharger, 50 built
  • XP-33 - Pratt & Whitney R-1830-1 Twin Wasp with 800 hp (597 kW), none built
  • Y1A-11 - ground attack version of Y1P-25 with 4x 0.30 in (7.62 mm) forward-firing machine guns and up to 400 lb (182 kg) of bombs, non-supercharged engine, 1 built
  • A-11 - trial run of the ground attack version, V-1570-59 engine without turbosupercharger, 4 built
  • XA-11A - Allison XV-1710-7 with 1,000 hp (746 kW), one A-11 converted by Bell Aircraft

Specifications (PB-2A)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 29 ft 10 in (9.1 m)
  • Wingspan: 43 ft 11 in (13.4 m)
  • Height: 8 ft 2 in (2.5 m)
  • Wing area: 297 ft (27.6 m)
  • Empty weight: 4,297 lb (1,949 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,632 lb (2,555 kg)

Performance

Armament

  • Guns:
    • 2 x 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns firing through the propeller
    • 1 x 0.30 in machine gun in the rear cockpit

See also

Related development

Comparable aircraft

Related lists

References

  • Bowers, Peter M. and Angellucci, Enzo. The American Fighter. New York: Orion Books, 1987. ISBN 0-517-56588-9.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Bowers, Peter M. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909. Washington, DC: Smithsonian, 1989. ISBN 0-87474-880-1.

External links

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