Curtiss Ascender XP-55

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Gerry Balzer
Other Publication Information
softcover, 72 pages
Product / Stock #
Air Force Legends Number 217
Company: Ginter Books - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Ginter Books - Website: Visit Site
Front Cover

Ginter Books’ latest book covering the Curtiss XP-55 “Ascender” is an in-depth look at one of the more oddball aircraft designed for the USAAF during the Second World War.

The book consists of 72 pages printed on glossy, good-quality stock, bound in a soft cover made of heavier stock. Front and back covers have beautiful color pictures, and almost every page inside has either multiple black and white photos or drawings.

The author has previously published a book on the 1940 fighter competition that took place in the US, and some of that research comprises the early section of this book. The XP-55 was a direct result of that competition, and several pages describe the process and innovations it generated.

The author then segues into the specific design and development of the XP-55. The radical design of this aircraft was subject to much re-thinking and re-designing, and all is covered. This section is loaded with detail photos of every imaginable area and part of the airframe, both contemporary and modern (one example still exists). All this will be of direct use to the modeler. Then several pages are dedicated to the performance testing: ground handling take-off and landing, maneuverability, stall characteristcs, etc. A list of advantages and disadvantages (compared to contemporary fighters) compiled by test pilots is provided, and shows a bit of insight into the pros and cons of this radical design.

Similar designs from other countries (Italy and Japan) are touched upon, with a few photos. The Italian Ambrosini SS.4 is covered with a page of text and some photos. Interestingly, the more well-known Japanese Kyushu J7W1 Shinden is only represented in this area by a photo and accompanying caption.

The last few pages of this book are used for some brief build reviews of the few kits of the XP-55 that are on the market. The MPM 1/72, Czech Model 1/48, and Collect-Aire resin 1/48 kits are all represented. There is also a photo of a metal Wargammers 1/285th kit. While the MPM review is a bit more in-depth, the other reviews are just a few paragraphs. Here also the Shinden resurfaces, with a review of Hasegawa’s 1/72 kit of the Japanese fighter. Within the review is a bit more text devoted to the actual aircraft’s history.

Finally, the inside cover has a nice cutaway, exploded 3-D view of the XP-55.

I was amazed to not only discover there is a title dedicated to this rather obscure aircraft, but that the book comprised 72 pages worth of useful information! Clear photos, drawings and a detailed text make this a great choice for any modeler interested in the subject. The kit reviews are extremely brief, probably too brief to be of any real use (other than the MPM review), but then that is not the main purpose of the book. With the copious amount of detail photos provided the modeler should have enough on hand to super-detail any of the kits on the market. Ginter has provided a tremendous amount of information and detail on this interesting aircraft. Highly recommend.

Thanks to Ginter Books for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!


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