Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Model 48) (2024)

1941 WORLD WAR 2

  • 1 History of the Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Type 48)
  • 2 Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Type 48) Specification
    • 2.1 Basic
    • 2.2 Production
    • 2.3 Roles
    • 2.4 Dimensions
    • 2.5 Weight
    • 2.6 Performance
    • 2.7 Performance
    • 2.8 Armor
    • 2.9 Changes

History of the Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Type 48)

The global shortage of modern monoplane fighters prior to World War II (1939-1945) meant that nearly all fighter designs - successful or not in themselves - were maintained in frontline service by global powers. The P-66/48 "Pioneer" was a development that emerged at the outbreak of war in Europe and was designed by Richard W. Palmer for Vultee Aircraft as a dedicated fighter.

It had the usual modern features of the timeenclosed co*ckpit, streamlined metal fuselage, low-slung monoplane wings and retractable landing gearbut only 146 were built. Originally ordered by Sweden, the U.S. retained control of the Vanguard inventory and made it available to allies in the U.K. and China, which became the main operator of the design.

Palmer led the design of four similar aircraft for a variety of dedicated missions on the battlefield - the V-48, BC-51, B-54 and BC-54D. These are used to meet fighter, basic, advanced and basic training requirements. The V-48, or more specifically the Type 48, was designed to be a single-seat, single-engine fighter with the latest metal skin technology. Power will come from a Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S4C4-G 14-cylinder 1,200 hp engine driving a three-bladed propeller unit on the nose.

The co*ckpit is amidships with a framed canopy and a raised fuselage spine. The wings are low-profile monoplane components mounted to the front, while the tail is a traditional single-rudder design.

The landing gear was a typical "tail" configuration, which was uniform at the time but retractable to reduce drag.

The Type 48 made its first flight as a prototype on September 8, 1939. Germany had invaded neighboring Poland on September 1, and world powers including the United States, far beyond the ocean took notice of developments in Europe.

Flight tests revealed several flaws in the Type 48 design, including engine cooling issues and stability issues that forced changes to the tail surfaces and internal engine intake layout. However, these changes have not alleviated the persistent problems.

On May 9, 1940, the Type 48 collided with the Lockheed Sirius utility aircraft, resulting in severe damage to the Type 48's landing gear (one leg was completely lost). After a safe landing, the plane was refitted and rebuilt, but that also delayed the entire Pioneer program.

A second prototype followed, the Type 48X (V-48X), which flew for the first time on February 11, 1940, featuring a new fairing design and improved wing structure. The expected weapons in final production form were 4 x .30 caliber Browning medium machine guns and 2 x .50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns for notable "thumping" strikers.

There is no requirement to carry bombs.

Faced with the deteriorating situation in Europe, the Swedish government dispatched to secure the contracted Volti modern fighter - 144. These were designated Type 49C (V-49C) and were ready for mass production - to accommodate the full machine gun armament and the more advanced R-1830 radial engine for better high altitude performance.

On September 6, 1941, the production aircraft flew for the first time.

The U.S. government blocked Vanguard shipments to Sweden and decided to keep 50 aircraft as P-66 trainers for the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF).

The remaining stock - production completed in April 1942 - was briefly assessed for service with the Royal Air Force, which planned to use 100 aircraft in Canada as advanced trainers, known as the "Pioneer I". Undeterred by the design, the plane was moved to the Chinese front against Japan. The American Volunteer Corps (AVG) was supposed to rely on the model, but it was later transferred to the Chinese Air Force. At least 104 were scheduled to sail (via India), but only 79 were actually available. These aircraft continued to operate under the banner of the Chinese Air Force from 1942 onwards, and their war service proved to be quite memorable - American fighter jets were largely superior to Japanese products at the time, and many were destroyed under ground fire.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighter jets (detailed elsewhere on this page) complement the Chinese losses. Chinese wartime P-66 squadrons were the 3rd and 11th Pursuit Groups.

U.S. P-66 use ended in 1943, while Chinese airframes were still available to some extent by 1947.

When complete, the P-66 has a top speed of 340 mph, a cruising speed of 290 mph, and a service ceiling of up to 28,200 feet. The climb rate is 2,520 feet per minute.

Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Type 48) Specification





Retired, out of service




[146 units]:

Vultee Aircraft - USA


- Fighter

- Education







Curb Weight:

2,375 kg


3,350 kg

(difference: +2,150 pt)


1 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-33 14-cylinder twin-row radial piston engine, 1,200 hp.


Maximum Speed:

339 mph (545 km/h; 294 knots)

Service Limit:

28,215 ft (8,600 m; 5.34 mi)

Rate of climb:

2,520 ft/min (768 m/min)


Standard, Fixed:

4 x .30 caliber Brownning M1919 machine guns

2 x .50 caliber Browning M2 heavy machine guns


Model 48 - Vultee Company Name

P-66 "Pioneer" - Base serial number for the USAAC/USAAF trainer version.

V-48 - original prototype model

V-48X - second prototype with improved wings and tail.

V49C - Swedish export model

Vanguard I - Royal Air Force (RAF) designation; assessed, not used in operations.

Vultee P-66 Vanguard (Model 48) (2024)
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