Americas First Jet Aircraft

TOP SECRET in 1941

 



The restoration crew has special shirts, and derby hats?

There is the story behind the hats. On one test flight the jet

was spotted by pilots getting checked out in P-38s operating from

Van Nuys Airport.  When the P-38 pilots reported seeing an

airplane with no propeller, their account met with skepticism but

the story kept circulating, so on a subsequent flight the test pilot

of the P-59 dressed up in a gorilla mask, put on a derby hat and

smoked a cigar. He then made a point to fly next to the P-38

pilots and waved at them.  

 

When the P-38 pilots got back to the base, they told everyone
about the plane with no propeller flown by a gorilla wearing a
derby and smoking a cigar.  The result of their report was total
disbelief, so the airplane remained a secret until after the war.

This is America's first jet airplane -- the P-59 first flown in

Oct.1942. Volunteers have spent the last 10 years restoring this

airplane,  In 1942, this was a Top Secret project located at
Edwards AFB.  When the dry lake flooded, they had to  transport
it by road so it was disguised with a dummy wooden  propeller on
the front.

 

 

 

 

 

1942 Cockpit & Inst. Panel photo:

Really Hi-Tech in 1942  Photo below

 

Comparison to a 2008 F-18 Cockpit, below !Only 66 years
later !95% Digital (all Glass) w/-a Heads-Up- Display

 

General characteristics

Power plant Two General Electric J31-GE-5 turbojets

Thrust 2,000 Lbs

Max. speed 413 mph

Range: normal 240 miles

ext. tanks 520 miles

Wing-area 386 sq ft

Weight empty 7,940 lb
max. takeoff 12,700 lb

Wingspan 45.5 ft

Length 38.85 ft


Height 12.3 ft
Armament One 37 mm cannon, three 12.5 mm machine guns;

under wings 2 x 1,000 pound bombs or 8 x 60 pound rockets

Date deployed to active service: 1944

Number built 66 (incl. three training XF2L-1 for US Navy)