US Army Air Force acquires a jet-powered version of either the Vultee XP-54 or Northrop XP-56

Vahe Demirjian

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There's no doubt that the Vultee XP-54's top speed fell short of expectations during test flights and that the Northrop XP-56 Northrop was a failure aerodynamically, but I read that Vultee considered fitting the XP-54 design with a turbojet (potentially creating a lookalike of the Focke-Wulf Flitzer) and that Northrop looked at a derivative of the XP-56 powered by a turbojet (either a Westinghouse J30 or General Electric J31) (see page 15 of Tony Chong's book Flying Wings and Radical Things). If the US Army Air Force had purchased a jet-powered version of either the XP-54 or XP-56 in 1943 as a successor to the P-59A Airacomet, given that the XP-54 and XP-56 did not meet performance expectations as regards top speed, would a jet-powered P-54 or P-56 have saved several dozen B-17s and B-24s from being shot down over Nazi Germany?
 

iverson

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I suspect that either would have succumbed to aerodynamic, structural, and general development problems without contributing anything. If we postulate early availability of a jet engine, then we can have the P-80.

Besides, American jets were not needed to counter the German jets when the latter appeared. P-51s, P-47s, and P-38s had the range and numbers to blanket German airfields and catch Me262s trying to take off and land.
 

riggerrob

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Dear Vahe Demirjian,
A jet-powered version of the Vultee XP-54 would have been a short-lived equivalent of the SAAB J-21R. The USAAF would have flown a few squadrons for a few years just to gain experience flying jets. Kind of like the RCAF's experience with DH Vampires which were soon relegated to reserve squadrons. XP-54 would have retired by the time of the Korean War.

Northrup's XP-56 suffered serious problems with stability and control

Dear Iverson,
By 1944, American-made airplanes simply out-numbered the Luftwaffe.
 

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