Wedell-Williams XP-34

Last revised June 12, 1999

The Curtiss company had demonstrated that it was possible to evolve a successful pursuit design from a racing aircraft. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the Wedell-Williams Company, one of the best-known manufacturers of racing planes during the 1920s and 1930s, would also attempt to adapt its racing designs to a fighter proposal.

The Wedell-Williams company submitted a cantilever, low-wing monoplane powered by a 700 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1535 Twin Wasp radial housed in a tightly-fitting cowling that looked too big for the rest of the airframe. The landing gear retracted inward to be stowed under the fuselage, and the cockpit was fully enclosed by a rearward-sliding canopy. The cockpit was situated well-aft, reminiscent of the manufacturer's racing planes from which the design was evolved. A maximum speed of 286 mph was anticipated.

The proposal was sufficiently appealing to the USAAC that on October 1, 1935 they ordered that a set of construction drawings be prepared under the designation XP-34. However, by 1936, fighters were already flying with performances exceeding that of the proposed XP-34. When confronted with this reality, the Wedell-Williams company proposed that the engine be switched to the 900hp Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-C radial in the pursuit of better performance. However, this revision failed to interest the USAAC, and the whole program was cancelled before anything could leave the drawing board.


  1. The American Fighter, Enzo Angellucci and Peter Bowers, Orion Books, 1987.