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Curtiss P-6 aircraft were known for their speed and maneuverability. They were also aircraft which needed the full attention of their pilots. Over 1/3 of the aircraft produced were lost while in flight or landing.
P-6 aircraft had wooden wings covered by fabric, and a metal frame fuselage. An innovation used for the engines was ethylene glycol cooling. Prior engines used water cooling. The new cooling method enabled the P-6 to operate at maximum power levels for longer periods of time. Oleo-strut landing gear were also standardized with the P-6.
In 1927 a prototype P-6 came in second at the U.S. National Air Races with a speed of 201 mph. In 1932, Popular Mechanics magazine reported that a P-6 with a supercharged engine set a 266 mph speed record for a cross-country flight.
Versions of the Curtiss P-6 were deployed from 1929 through 1939. A total of 70 aircraft of all types were produced.