ONE OF A KIND
Don Berlin, one of the great aircraft designers, with successful
products for Douglas and Northrop, eventually found his way
to Curtiss- Wright in 1934. ;e company was fortunate to enjoy
considerable success with his P- 36 and, later, the P- 40 fighters.
In 1936–37, fighter designers in Europe and the United States
were attempting to improve performance with better streamlining.
With war looming, Roll-Royce, Mercedes, Packard, and others made
good use of their decades of aviation powerplant leadership. ;e
United States invested more than a half million dollars to develop
a new liquid-cooled, streamlined engine: the Allison V-1710. ;e
military challenged the aircraft manufacturers to come up with planes
that were best suited for it.
Curtiss took its prototype Model 75D airframe and mounted
the 1150hp, turbo-supercharged Allison V- 12 on the front, with a
beautifully streamlined cowling. Ordered on February 16, 1937, it
first flew in April 1937. It was Army serial 37-375. It seems like a
possible afterthought that the engine length became a challenging
problem, when the cockpit had to have a major relocation, rearward,
to accommodate the massive turbo-supercharger and three
radiators. ;e long nose and cowling as well as the main wing not
only obstructed pilot visibility in the air but also (even worse) on the
BY JOE GERTLER
The sleek, long-nosed, Curtiss XP- 37 bore a similarity to some of the most successful, high-powered aircraft that competed in the National Air Races from 1935 to 1937. But while air acers were only required to fly a few times per year, the
extreme rearward position of the cockpit and corresponding lack of
pilot visibility were going to be a major problem for a fighter.