Consolidated P-25

Consolidated P-25

By Joe Baugher

When Lockheed's holding company, Detroit Aircraft Corp, went into receivership in 1931, they were unable to fulfill their contract to manufacture YP-24 fighters for the USAAC. In addition, Detroit Aircraft's chief engineer, Robert J Woods, was now out of a job. However, he was soon recruited by the Consolidated Aircraft Corp to continue work on his YP-24 design—despite failure of the Detroit company, the USAAC was still interested in the YP-24 design. The Army ordered a single prototype of Woods' basic design from Consolidated under the designation Y1P-25 [32-321].

    At first glance Consolidated's Y1P-25 looked much the same as did the YP-24. It was a two-seat, low wing monoplane with fully-retractable main landing gear. However, there were significant differences. Y1P-25 had an all-metal wing in place of the wood-frame, plywood-covered wing of the YP-24. In addition, its tail was larger, and metal was substituted for the fabric covering on the tail control surfaces. The engine was a 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled, 600hp Curtiss V-1570-27 Conqueror with turbo-supercharger mounted on the port side (YP-24 had no supercharger). Armament was two fixed, forward-firing machine guns mounted in the upper fuselage, plus one flexible machine gun operated by a gunner in the rear cockpit.

    A second prototype of the basic Consolidated design was built as a ground attack aircraft, designated Y1A-11 [32-322]. It differed from the Y1P-25 primarily in having a Conqueror without a supercharger. In addition, the Y1A-11 had two more guns in the nose and racks for up to 400# of bombs.

The Y1P-25 was delivered to the Army on Dec 9, 1932. First tests were very encouraging. Thanks to the turbo-supercharger, the Y1P-25 could achieve 247 mph at 15,000' in spite of 700# more weight, as compared to the YP-24. Maximum speed was 205 at sea level and it could climb to 10,000' in 6.7 minutes. Weights were 3887# empty, 5110# gross.

    Flight tests with the Y1P-25 and its Y1A-11 attack counterpart went quite well. However, it crashed on Jan 13, 1933 and was so badly damaged that it was a writeoff. The Y1A-11 crashed a week later.

In spite of the two crashes, the USAAC did not feel that there was any intrinsic flaw in the basic design and, later that month, a contract for four production examples was issued under the designation P-30 [33-204/207]. The P-30 differed from the Y1P-25 by having a 675hp Curtiss V-1570-57 with twin-blade constant-speed prop, simplified undercarriage, and revised cockpit canopy. Four similar A-11s [33-308/311] were also ordered with unsupercharged V-1570-59 engines.

    Plans for the construction of two Y1P-25s with Pratt & Whitney radial engines, which were allocated the designations YP-27 and YP-28, did not materialize.

-- United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough & Peter Bowers, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1989.
-- The American Fighter, Enzo Angellucci & Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.
-- General Dynamics Aircraft and Their Predecessors, John Wegg, Naval Institute Press, 1990.