This aircraft was one of several designs by Thomas-Morse designed and built in hopes of a production contract from the Army, following the successful Thomas-Morse MB-3 of 1919. Financed by the company and named by it the "Viper", it was officially purchased by the Army in June of 1929 and designated "XP-13".
The XP-13 fuselage had a corrugated aluminum skin built over metal frame; the flying surfaces were also metal-framed, but covered with the traditional fabric. While designed to use the 600hp Curtiss H-1640-1 Chieftain engine, for which the XP-13 incorporated a complex system of baffles to direct cooling air over the engine, the engine simply would not stay cool enough, and in September of 1930 it was replaced with a Pratt & Whitney SR1340C Wasp of 450hp. Ironically, the weaker engine actually resulted in a speed increase of 15 mph, at least partly because of the weight savings.
In the end, the Army decided against production, Thomas-Morse was acquired by Consolidated Aircraft, and the prototype was lost to a fire that broke out during flight.
The designation XP-14 was used for a proposed Curtiss version of the Viper.
- Lloyd S. Jones, U.S. Fighters (Aero Publishers, Inc., 1975) pp. 46-47 ISBN 0-8168-9200-8
- National Museum of the USAF page, with photo
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