Americas First Jet Fighter: The P-59 Airacomet


in 1941


 This is America’s first jet airplane — the P-59 first flown in Oct.1942. Volunteers have spent 10 years restoring it. In 1942, this was a Top Secret project 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 and covered with a shroud.Supposedly on the 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 supposedly dressed up in a gorilla mask, put on a derby hat and smoked a cigar when in range of the airport. (That’s why the volunteer restoration team all posed with derby’s).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.

Of course folks would chalk this up to excessive drinking and tall tales by fighter pilots (Not much has changed) so the plane remained secret.

Power plant Two General Electric J31-GE-5 turbojets
Thrust 907 kg 8.89 kN
Max. speed 413 mph 664 km/h
Range: normal 240 miles 386 km
Weight empty 7,940 lb 3,600 kg
max. takeoff 12,700 lb 5,760 kg
Wingspan 45.5 ft 13.88 m
Length 38.85 ft 11.84 m
Height 12.3 ft 3.76 m
Armament One 37 mm cannon, three 12.5 mm machine guns;
under wings 2x 450 kg bombs or 8x 27 kg rockets
Date deployed to active service: 1944
Number built 66 (incl. three training XF2L-1 for US Navy)

2 responses to “Americas First Jet Fighter: The P-59 Airacomet

  1. Pingback: What Izzit? « Blue Side Up

  2. Unfortunately it is not possible to fly the P59. However you can now enjoy jet fighter rides in many jet planes such as Migs, L39, Fouga Magister, Hawker Hunter and others. Check out for additional info. PS:you have a very nice blog.

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