The P-35 was a first-generation “modern” (all-metal, enclosed cockpit, retractable landing gear) fighter designed by Alexander Kartveli for Seversky for the U.S. Army. First flown August 15, 1935, it reflected two aerodynamic fetishes of the time in having elliptical flying surfaces and a loosely teardrop-shaped fuselage whose fuselage widened aft of the already wide radial engine that powered it.
The P-35 competed against the more advanced Curtiss Hawk 75, or P-36, and was found to be superior to the Curtiss product. Despite this only 198 P-35s were made, including versions exported to Sweden and Japan, and the Curtiss plane hung on to attract later and larger production orders. The basic P-35 equipped Army fighter squadrons in the late 1930s and was not quite phased out when the U.S. entered the war at the end of 1941, although the P-35 was swiftly defeated in combat by more modern Japanese fighters. A two-seat version also was made, with lengthened fuselage and other changes, and this was the version supplied to Japan. Some of these found their way to the U.S. Army where they were designated as trainers, designated AT-12, but really used as fast utility planes and personal transports for base commanders. During the 1930s, a few special civilian racer versions also were constructed, and these were used to advertise the company while competing in events like the Bendix Trophy, which they won in 1937 and 1939, placing second in 1938. James Doolittle and Jackie Cochran were two of the famous pilots to race these aircraft.
Four aircraft of the P-35 family still exist. Two are static displays, one is airworthy and one is under restoration to fly.
The National Museum of the USAF P-35 one of the initial production models and is restored as a later P-35A of the 17th Pursuit Squadron in 1941.
Planes of Fame maintains this 2-seat AT-12 in flying condition, registered N55539. Despite visible differences between this aircraft and a P-35, Planes of Fame usually has it painted as a P-35, and on some occasions as one of the racer derivatives. Its last military role was as the personal transport of the Lowry Field base commander in Colorado.