American Secret Pusher Fighters of WWII: XP-54, XP-55, and XP-56
Author: Gerald H. Balzer
Publisher: Specialty Pr Pub & Wholesalers (2008)
Binding: Hardcover, 182 pages
American Secret Pusher Fighters of World War II analyzes the state of military aircraft procurement just prior to the start of World War II. It provides insight into the difficulties encountered by America's air services in dealing with an isolationist Congress and a limited mindset in the Army, which was seemingly indifferent to the aeronautical progress being made in Europe by the British and Germans. The book then focuses on the three winners of the 1940 fighter competition - the Vultee XP-54, the Curtiss XP-55, and the Northrop XP-56. These radical designs ("Pusher" referred to having the engine in the back) used non-strategic materials and were developed in secret. At the time, the aerodynamics of these aircraft far outpaced engine development. In addition, this book details the technical difficulties of mating an advanced aircraft design with inadequate engine development.
American Secret Pusher Fighters of World War II is a fascinating ride down the development path of three secret pusher fighters that, although never reaching full production, ultimately influenced the design and development of the highly successful unmanned fighter-bomber, the Predator, as well as future aircraft.
Filled with technical data and engineer drawings, American Secret Pusher Fighters of World War II provides the aviation enthusiast or aeronautical engineer with a thorough inside and outside exploration into the design and construction of the experimental XP-54, XP-55, and XP-56. Thoroughly researched and documented by the author, I can?t envision any questions about the aircraft that cannot be answered here.
Many vintage photographs show close-ups of the structure and components of each aircraft from laboratory settings to the field testing sites. The eye-catching cover shows the Curtiss XP-55 in flight over farmland near St. Louis. The layout is logical and easily supports the text. Not for the casual reader, but for a detailed, well-documented excursion into the successes and failures of these remarkable aircraft, this is the book to read.
Reviewed by: Frank Evans (2009)