Consolidated P-30's story...
Y1P-25, YP-27 and YP-28
Following the financial failure of the Detroit-Lockheed Company, its designers and engineers found jobs with Bell Aircraft and Consolidated. Soon, Consolidated rolled out a new two-place fighter whose lines were based on the ill-fated YP-24. Generally more streamlined and using an all-metal wing instead of the plywood wing of the YP-24, the Consolidated fighter was designated Y1P-25 (S. N. 32-321), two of which had been ordered by the Army in 1932. Only the first airframe became a P-25, however; the second was delivered as the Y1A-11.
Powered by the same type engine as the YP-24, a 600 hp Conqueror, the Consolidated version had the added boost of a turbo-supercharger giving it a top speed of 247 mph at 15,000 feet. Again the destiny of this design was marred by crashes as the Y1P-25 was destroyed on January 13,1933, followed a week later by the Y1A-11. The accidents were not considered to be a reflection on the design, however, and an order was placed with Consolidated for a very successful version of the plane as the P-30.
The Y1P-25 was slightly larger than the YP-24, having a wingspan of 43 feet l0 inches, a length of 29 feet 4 inches, and a height of 8 feet 7 inches. Weight also was greater than the earlier fighter; empty, it was 3,887 lbs while it grossed at 5,110 lbs.
In May 1932, a proposal was made to construct two versions of the Y1P-25 with air-cooled engines. One of these planes was given the Army designation YIP-27, with a 550 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-2I Wasp. The second, YIP-28, to be powered by a 600 hp P & W R-1340-19 Wasp. The anticipated performance of these two designs was not considered justification for their development and the projects were cancelled. 65
Consolidated's P-30 represented a bold step forward for the Air Corps. Here was the first American fighter ordered into production with many of the features that had for years been just beyond the grasp of success. Standard equipment on the P-30 were fully retractable landing gear, enclosed heated cockpit (for the pilot at any rate), exhaust- driven turbo-supercharger, and a fully cantilever wing.
Following the crash of the Y1P-25, the Army ordered four refined examples of the two-place fighter, calling them P-30's (33-204 to 33-207), for service evaluation. At the same time, four similar but un' supercharged A-11's were ordered but this branch of the design did not proceed further. Testing of the P-30's in 1934 resulted in some complaints by the pilots regarding the value of a tail gunner during maneuvers. Their location in the rear of the plane invariably caused them to black-out during sharp turns or dive recovery. Despite these complaints, the Army was pleased with the airplane and on December 6, 1934, Consolidated received an order for 50 P' 30A's, these being assigned serial numbers 35-l to 35-50. Delivery had just begun when the Army decided to identify them as Bi' place pursuits and they were reclassed as PB-2A's.
The production models were fitted with Curtiss Electric Constant Speed propellers driven by a Curtiss V-1570-61 Conqueror of 700 hp with the G. E. Supercharger. The landing gear was retracted by means of a hand-wound crank in the cockpit; and a certain degree of skill was required for a pilot to maintain formation while pulling up the gear. The P-30A/PB-2A had a service ceiling of 28,000 feet, and the crew was provided with oxygen via a converter which changed liquid oxygen to gas that was in' haled through a rubber hose. High altitude flights were seldom performed, thou$h, because of the expense, inconvenience, and discomfort to the crewmen in their bulky flying suits. At 25,000 feet, the P-30A achieved a speed of 274.5 mph. At 15,000 feet, a more reasonable operating altitude, the plane had a top speed of 255.5 mph and cruised at 215 mph.
One P30A was evaluated as a single seater with the canopy blending into the tail with a metal fairing. In 1936, it was an un- successful entry in an Army competition for single-seat fighters.
The P-30A was constructed entirely of metal with a wingspan of 43 feet 11 inches, area of 297 square feet, length of 30 feet, and height of 8 feet 3 inches. The rearward- firing .30 cal . machine gun was supplemented by two more .30's in the nose. Empty weight was 4,306 pounds and the P- 30A grossed 5,643 pounds. Range was 508 miles on 180 gallons of fuel.
A proposal to mount an 800 hp fourteen cylinder Pratt & Whitney R-1830-1 Twin Wasp led to the designation P-33; but this project was cancelled as the two-place concept of the P-30 proved, in the long run, to be impractical. The concessions to performance caused by the use of a second man solely as a gunner was not justified, a fact that was more than proven by the British Boulton Paul Defiant of World War II. The place for the second man in a fighter was yet to come.
The cockpit of the Consolidated P-30(A-11).
Length: 29 ft 10 in
Wingspan: 43 ft 11 in
Height: 8 ft 2 in
Wing area: 297 ft
Empty weight: 4,297 lb
Loaded weight: 5,632 lb
Maximum speed: 274 mph
Cruise speed: 215 mph
Range: 510 mi
Service ceiling: 28,000 ft
Rate of climb: 1,925 ft/min
Wing loading: 19 lb/ft
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