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Bell XP-83

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Bell XP-83
S/n 44-84990 in test flight over Wright Field, May 1945
Type Escort fighter
Manufacturer Bell Aircraft Corporation
Designed by Charles Rhodes
Maiden flight 25 February 1945
Status Project cancelled 1947
Primary user United States Army Air Forces (intended)
Number built 2
Program costUS$4.2[1]
Developed from P-59 Airacomet

The Bell XP-83 was an American prototype escort fighter designed by the Bell Aircraft Corporation that first flew in 1945. As an early jet fighter, its limitations included a lack of power and it was soon eclipsed by more advanced designs.

Design and development

The early jet fighters consumed fuel at a prodigious rate, which severely limited their range and endurance. In March 1944, the USAAF requested Bell to design a fighter with increased endurance, and formally awarded a contract for two prototypes on 31 July.

Bell had been working on its "Model 40" interceptor design since 1943. It was redesigned as a long-range escort fighter, retaining the general layout of the P-59 Airacomet. The two General Electric J33-GE-5 turbojet engines were located in each wing root, which left the large and bulky fuselage free for fuel tanks and armament. The fuselage was an all-metal semimonocoque, capable of carrying 1,150 US gallons (4,350 L); in addition, two 250 US gal (950 L) drop tanks could be carried. The cabin was pressurized, and the canopy a small and low bubble type. The armament was to be six 0.5 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in the nose.


Early wind tunnel reports had pinpointed directional instability but the "fix" of a larger tail would not be ready in time for flight testing. [2]The first prototype was flown on 25 February 1945, by Bell's chief test pilot Jack Woolams, who found it to be underpowered and unstable. The limited flight testing provided satisfactory flight characteristics although spins were restricted until the larger tailfin was installed. In the end, the second prototype did incorporate the extended tail and an aileron boost system. [3] One unique characteristic was the XP-83's refusal to "slow down," partly attributable to its aerodynamics as well as the inadequacy of its flaps; test pilots were forced to fly very long and flat approaches.[4]

The first prototype was used in 1946 as a ramjet testbed, with an engineer's station located in the fuselage behind the pilot and on 14 September one of the ramjets caught fire - the pilot "Slick" Goodlin and engineer Charles Fay had to parachute out. The second prototype flew on 19 October and was scrapped in 1947. Apart from range, the XP-83 was inferior to Lockheed's P-80 Shooting Star, and the XP-83 project was cancelled in 1947.

Specifications (XP-83)

XP-83 (first prototype)

Data from War Planes of the Second World War[5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1 pilot (engineer's station fitted to first prototype, with an entrance door under the fuselage)
  • Length: 44 ft 10 in (13.67 m)
  • Wingspan: 53 ft 0 in (16.15 m)
  • Height: 15 ft 3 in (4.65 m)
  • Wing area: 431 ft² (40.0 m²)
  • Empty weight: 14,105 lb (6,400 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 24,090 lb (10,930 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 27,500 lb (12,500 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric J33-GE-5 turbojets, 4,000 lbf (18 kN) each



  • Guns:
    • 6× .50 in (12.7 mm) M2 machine guns or
    • 6× .60 in (15.2 mm) T17E3 machine guns or
    • 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano cannons or
    • 1× 37 mm (1.46 in) cannon in the nose


  1. Knaack 1978
  2. Koehnen 1982, p. 24.
  3. Koehnen 1982, p. 44, 48.
  4. Koehnen 1982, p. 48.
  5. Green 1961
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War - Fighters (Vol. 4). London: Macdonald, 1961. No ISBN.
  • Knaack, Marcelle Size. Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems: Volume 1 Post-World War II Fighters 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1978. ISBN 0-912799-59-5.
  • Koehnen, Richard C. "Bell's No Name Fighter." Airpower, Vol. 12, no. 1. January 1982.

External links

Related content

Designation sequence

Related lists

de:Bell XP-83 ja:XP-83 (戦闘機)