Curtiss XA-14

Last revised July 8, 2000


In 1934, the Curtiss company began work on a two-seat, twin-engined attack aircraft as a private venture. The aircraft was known as Model 76 by the company. It was also known under the company name Shrike, which was a generic name applied by Curtiss to many of its attack aircraft.

The Model 76 was a cantilever mid-winged monoplane of all-metal construction but with fabric covering for the moveable control surfaces as well as for the wing aft of the front spar. The aircraft was powered by a pair of Wright R-1670-5 twin-row air-cooled radial engines mounted inside circular-cowled nacelles and driving twin-bladed two-position propellers. The main undercarriage members retracted rearward into the back of the engine nacelles, but leaving half of each wheel exposed. The tailwheel was retractable as well.

The pilot sat well forward underneath a sliding canopy, whereas the observer/gunner sat well to the rear underneath his own sliding canopy. The short nose had four 0.30-inch machine guns, and a single flexible 0.30-inch machine gun in the rear cockpit. Bombs were carried internally in a fuselage bomb bay.

The aircraft took off on its first flight on July 17, 1935. Since it was a company-owned demonstrator, the Model 76 carried a civil registration of X15314. It was tested by the Army at Wright Field in Ohio, and then returned to Curtiss for modifications. These modifications included a change in engine cowling shape and the installation of new constant-speed propellers. In December of 1935, the Army purchased the Model 76 under the designation XA-14. The serial number was 36-146.

Although the maximum speed of 254 mph made the XA-14 ten mph faster than the Consolidated P-30 two-seat fighter and 20 mph faster than the Boeing P-26A single-seat fighter. the Army was reluctant to enter into any large-scale contract for the A-14 because of its high cost. In depression-ridden America, the $90,000 (without engines) pricetag on each A-14 made it much too expensive for a large scale order. Nevertheless, thirteen service test examples were ordered on July 23, 1936. They were powered by single-row Wright R-1820-47 Cyclones driving three-bladed propellers. As was typical in those days, the change of engine resulted in a change of designation, to Y1A-18.

Lacking any large-scale orders, Curtiss wanted to use its Model 76 to set some aviation records, but instead it was decided in June 1936 to use the XA-14 to test a new 37-mm cannon. The sole XA-14 was scrapped in August 1938 after only 158 flying hours.

Specification of Curtiss XA-14

Engines: Two Wright R-1670-5 air-cooled radials, each rated at 775 hp at 10,000 feet. Performance: Maximum speed 254 mph at 9750, 249 mph at 4550 feet, 243 mph at sea level. Cruising speed 211 mph. Landing speed 75 mph. Service ceiling 27,125 feet. Absolute ceiling 28,500 feet. Initial climb rate 1685 feet per minute. Range 816 miles with 600 pounds of bombs. Dimensions: Wingspan 54 feet 5 inches, length 40 feet 3 inches, height 10 feet 9 inches, wing area 526 square feet. Weights: 8456 pounds empty, 11,738 pounds gross. Armament: Four fixed 0.30-inch forward-firing machine guns in the nose, plus one flexible 0.30-inch machine gun in the rear cockpit. A maximum internal bomb load of 654 pounds could be carried.

Sources:


  1. American Combat Planes, Third Enlarged Edition, Ray Wagner, Doubleday, 1982.

  2. Curtiss Aircraft, 1907-1947, Peter M. Bowers, Naval Institute Press, 1979.

  3. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  4. Grind 'em Out Ground Attack--The Search for the Elusive Fighter Bomber, Anson McCullough, Wings, August 1995.