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Curtiss XP-46

Curtiss XP-46

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Curtiss XP-46

The XP-46 was one of a series of attempts to improve the performance of the P-40 Warhawk, none of which entered production. Work began on the XP-46 in September 1939. It used a more powerful Allison V-1710-39 engine, capable of providing 1,150 hp at take off. The design was cleaned up to reduce drag, and a top speed of over 400 mph was predicted.

The XP-46A, with no guns, first flew on 15 February 1941. Performance was nowhere near as good as expected – the top speed was only 355 mph at 12,000 feet. This was only a very slight improvement over that of the P-40D then in production, certainly not a big enough improvement to justify disrupting production, and so work on the XP-46 was abandoned.

Curtiss XP-62

Curtiss Aeroplane's success in delivering a U.S. Army fighter was in the classic P-40 "Warhawk" line. However, this was a pre-war design through and through and many attempts by the company to secure additional Army contracts in the fighter field ultimately failed. There were also attempts to improve upon the original P-40 product itself and these also fell to naught as competitors like Lockheed, Republic, and North American swooped in to nab the potentially lucrative Army deals on the table.

The XP-62 was devised by Curtiss to build a very fast fighter platform around the then-largest radial piston engine available - the Wright R-3350 "Cyclone 18". The work began even before the United States was to commit to the World War which came in December of 1941. During January of that year, Curtiss approached U.S. Army authorities with its plans and convinced them about the fighter's potential, managing to secure funding for the endeavor before the end of the month.

The Cyclone engine was already in the works, begun in 1936, but it had proved itself wholly temperamental to the point that delays were commonplace. Beyond its sheer size, the engine was rated for over 2,000 horsepower output and found its best use as the drive plant for the famous Boeing B-29 "Superfortress" heavy bomber still to come (this bomber used four such engines). Perhaps more interestingly was its use to power a more compact fighter aircraft - giving it unprecedented speed and performance factors to be unrivaled at the time. During this period, the Wright product was one of the most powerful of its kind - the Wright R-3350-17 model was selected to power the XP-62 design and provide upwards of 2,300 horsepower output. A turbo-supercharger was to also form part of the engine's installation. Because of the forces at play, a large diameter (over 13 feet) six-bladed contra-rotating propeller would be fitted to the front of the aircraft.

Beyond its massive radial, the aircraft was to feature modern metal skin construction, a pressurized cockpit for high-altitude flight and a then-impressive armament fit of 12 x 0.50 caliber Browning heavy machine guns. Alternatively, the machine guns could be supplanted by a battery of four to eight 20mm cannons for an even more powerful frontal "punch".

The end product became a stout monoplane aircraft featuring a deep fuselage with its turbo-supercharger intake duct fitted under the nose, ductwork being used to funnel air to the unit amidships. A raised fuselage spine aft of the cockpit restricted views to the rear but added internal volume for fuel, avionics and other vital components. The cockpit was covered over in a greenhouse-style canopy and sat just aft of the engine installation. The tail unit consisted of a rounded vertical tail fin emanating from the dorsal spine as well as mid-mounted horizontal planes. The undercarriage was of the typical tail-dragger arrangement and all-retractable. Instead of the intended machine gun array, the armament had now specifically centered on all-cannon armament - as many as eight.

Curtiss developed the aircraft under the "Model 91" product name and submitted its streamlined proposal in April of 1940. This was approved the following month and covered the prototype XP-62 and a production-quality XP-62A - the first to be readied by late 1942. As Curtiss engineers set to work but it was soon discovered that the troublesome engine would not be ready in time.

Despite this, a mock-up was available for review during December of 1941. By this time, the product's weight had ballooned and it was ordered that she be lightened (this led to a 4 x 20mm cannon armament as the agreed upon standard). The Army handed Curtiss an official production contract in May of 1942 to produce the finalized P-62A. However, this contract was rescinded as soon as July when the Boeing B-29 project required the selected Wright engine stock. Army authorities were also concerned about disrupting the Curtiss commitment to producing its P-40 and the Republic P-47 "Thunderbolt" fighters.

The XP-62 prototype continued in a reduced state as it no longer was given the sense of urgency it once had. First flight was finally recorded on July 21st, 1943 but this model was still stripped of its vital components and not representative of anything close to a production fighter aircraft. Within a few short months, the XP-62 program was cancelled in full (this occurring on September 21st, 1943) as better alternatives were available to the Army heading into the final years of the war. Curtiss attempted to convince the Army of the merits of converting the new aircraft to a low-altitude ground attack platform but there was already plenty of competition in this field from existing effective types as well as in-development models.

In the end, the XP-62 marked one of the final Curtiss products to emerge during the war years. Its P-40 design was its only truly classic fighter contribution and was never bettered before the end of the conflict. Only a sole prototype of the XP-62 was realized and its flying time only short-lived. If completed, the XP-62 would have showcased a maximum speed of up to 450 miles per hour (the original spec was closer to 470mph), a range out to 1,500 miles, and a service ceiling of 35,700 feet (hence its cockpit pressurization system - which also proved problematic). Dimensions included a length of 39.5 feet, a wingspan of 54 feet, and a height of 16.25 feet.

Curtiss C-46: Going Commando

The Curtiss C-46 Commando became the air transport heavyweight champ of World War II.

©John M. Dibbs/The Plane Picture Company

The Curtiss C-46 filled a niche during World War II for a high-altitude heavy hauler capable of operating from rough airstrips in far-flung locales

They called it the Curtiss Calamity, Ol’ Dumbo, the Flying Whale and, more recently, Miss Piggy. The C-46 Commando was the biggest twin-engine airplane in the world when it first flew—longer, taller and with a wider wingspan than a B-17 or B-24. To fly a C-46 was to wrestle with 20 to 26 tons of aluminum and steel, depending on the model and mods. There were pilots who said that if you could fly a C-46, you could fly anything. Others claimed that if you could taxi it, you could fly it. Still others called it a miserable groundlooping sonofabitch and wanted nothing to do with it.

Curtiss originally designed the C-46 to be a pressurized luxury airliner with enough range to fly the golden route between New York and Chicago nonstop and above most of the weather. It would be a 24- to 36-seat “sub-stratosphere transport,” the company’s marketers optimistically predicted, with the option of being configured with crosswise sleeping berths. But it would never be pressurized, never be luxurious, never be a true airliner. At best, hundreds of war-surplus Commandos were operated in the late 1940s and early ’50s by startup nonscheduled cargo and passenger carriers. Having cost the government $313,500 each, C-46s were sold as surplus for as little as $5,000.

When design of the Curtiss CW-20 airliner began in 1936, war was a distant threat to the non-interventionist United States, and the Douglas DC-3 had already demonstrated the possibility of serious commercial air travel. The Doug had rendered obsolete the Boeing 247 and Curtiss’ gawky 12-seat, retractable-gear Condor II biplane. Curtiss found itself looking at future competition from Boeing’s four-engine 307 Stratoliner and the Douglas DC-4.

In the 1920s and ’30s, Curtiss was a single-engine fighter company, with a long line of biplane pursuits for the Army and Navy, and then the P-36 and P-40 Hawk fighters for the Army Air Corps and export. The CW-20 Condor III was by far the largest and most complex design the company had ever undertaken.

In charge was a prolific engineer, George A. Page Jr., who ultimately directed 60 Curtiss designs. Page was a pioneer aviator, having soloed in 1913, and he even worked briefly as an airline pilot. The Commando was the high point of his career. Page had his CW-20 design extensively tested in the 10-foot-diameter Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratories wind tunnel at Caltech. Tunnel testing encouraged him to engineer unusual nacelles for what became the C-46, with cowl flaps only on the bottom half of the pods. This avoided feeding any turbulent cooling airflow over the upper lifting surfaces of the wings.

The wind tunnel also verified one of the CW-20/C-46’s most distinctive features—its streamlined, unstepped cockpit glazing, which gave the Commando its perfecto-cigar shape. A small number of C-46s were built with conventional windshields they were known as broken-nose Commandos.

The other distinctive Commando feature that Page confirmed at Caltech was the airplane’s double-bubble, figure-eight cross-section. The CW-20 was intended to be pressurized, to compete with the Boeing 307, the world’s first pressurized airliner. Curtiss also wanted the CW-20 to have a large, separate baggage compartment under the main cabin, an innovation for that era. To encompass both a roomy cabin and a supplemental cargo area within a single circular cross section—the ideal for pressurization—would have created a fuselage with a large frontal area and thus increased form drag. So Page outlined a partial circle tied firmly into a wide floor to contain the passenger cabin, and a separate smaller ovoid area, attached to the floor from below, for the unpressurized baggage area.

The result was notably less drag, but it was a pointless exercise. Curtiss had no time to develop a pressurization system in the midst of wartime demands, and after the war a lack of airline interest in a civil version of the airplane left the company with no reason to do the work. No CW-20 or C-46 was ever pressurized.

The CW-20 prototype had a long aluminum fairing to hide the crease between cabin and baggage compartment, but the extra metal weighed 275 pounds, added manufacturing complexity and did nothing aerodynamically. It was quickly eighty-sixed, leaving naked the C-46’s signature fuselage shape. Page was granted a design patent on the CW-20’s configuration, much like Coca-Cola patenting the shape of its wasp-waisted bottle. It’s unclear how Boeing circumvented the patent to create the double-bubble Model 377 Stratocruiser just five years later, though Boeing and Douglas designed the double-bubble 707 and DC-8 after the Curtiss patent had expired.

C-46s were underpowered until Curtiss replaced their 1,700-hp Wright Twin Cyclones with 2,000-hp Pratt & Whitney Double Wasps. (National Archives)

In March 1940, Boeing test pilot Eddie Allen took the big Curtiss up for its first flight. Allen was by far the most experienced multiengine test pilot in the country, and had made dozens of first flights in everything from the Douglas DC-2 to the Boeing 314 flying boat. In the clubby world of West Coast airframers, he was free to occasionally freelance.

By that time war clouds loomed, and Curtiss parked the CW-20 in the back of its main Buffalo, N.Y., hangar while it ramped up production of P-40s for the British. Legend has it that while touring aircraft manufacturing facilities in September 1940, Maj. Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold visited Curtiss, saw the CW-20 and supposedly declared, “I want that airplane.” Since by then the Air Corps had already bought the prototype and was testing it—under the designation of C-55—more likely that’s when Arnold became aware of its cargo- and troop-carrying potential.

Unfortunately, the C-55 was a raw, unfinished prototype. The only substantive change Curtiss had made after initial flight testing was to replace the original twin tail with the Commando’s big vertical fin and rudder Eddie Allen had complained about low-speed stability and single-engine handling. The Air Corps sent the C-55 back to Buffalo with a long list of needed fixes and mods, but Hap Arnold’s demand for the design resulted in an order for 200 of what would become the C-46.

The first 25 C-46s delivered were simply CW-20s with a bare interior. The 26th included a momentous change: Gone were Curtiss’ 1,700-hp Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engines, replaced by the finest, most reliable big radial ever built—Pratt & Whitney’s 2,000-hp R-2800 Double Wasp. With its two-stage supercharger, the R-2800 gave this first true Commando high-altitude capability appropriate for what was intended to be a pressurized airplane.

Altitude performance was the key to the C-46’s major contribution to World War II: It was the sole high-altitude, heavy-lift cargo aircraft available to cross the Himalayas on the famous China-Burma-India Theater “Hump” route, airlifting supplies to Chiang Kai-Shek’s army after the Japanese closed the Burma Road. C-47s did yeoman work crossing what Hump pilots called the Rockpile, and eventually the four-engine C-54 would become the favored airlifter when Japanese retreats opened a lower-altitude Hump route. However, C-46s did the brunt of the Hump-topping work during the prime years of the resupply route.

But the C-46 was nobody’s favorite. Thirty-one of the 230 Commandos used on the Hump routes—more than 13 percent of the fleet—exploded in flight. It was long thought that 55-gallon drums of avgas cargo were the cause, and no matter how frigid the loaded eastbound flight to China, C-46 crews wouldn’t touch the cockpit heater until they were returning to India empty, the cabin swept clean of gas fumes. It was finally discovered that fuel from tiny leaks in the wing tanks and fuel lines pooled in the C-46’s unvented wing roots, where a stray spark would eventually set it off. After the war, all C-46s were modified with proper vents, sparkless fuel-boost pumps and shielded wing-area wiring.

A C-46 tackles its most famous challenge, the "Hump" route through the Himalayan between India and China. (National Archives)

Commandos also got a reputation for fuel line vapor-locking at altitude when a crew tried to switch tanks. The only solution was to descend and try a restart, which was hardly an option over the Himalayas. Postwar civil C-46s all had submersible electric fuel pumps installed in their tanks, to forcibly push fuel through a vapor bubble.

Countless published sources list carburetor icing as a C-46 bugaboo during Hump operations, but this is a misnomer. To a pilot, “carburetor icing” means internal obstruction of a carburetor by moisture-laden air that is suddenly supercooled by flow through the carb venturi, turning the humid air to ice. What Commandos actually encountered—and they frequently did over the Himalayas—was impact icing, or physical obstruction of the external carburetor air scoop by snow, sleet and supercooled rain. Choke off a piston engine’s induction air source and it’s out of business. The only cure is rapid selection of “alternate air” from a secondary air inlet inside the warm engine nacelle, before the big Pratt dies. Restarting a hot but dead R-2800 at 20,000 feet could be a challenge.

The C-46’s four-blade Curtiss electric props were also a hazard. The electrical contacts corroded in humid India, and the props would suddenly overspeed. “It was SOP during takeoff for the copilot to have his fingers on the toggle switches of the override system in case the props overspeeded,” former Commando pilot Don Downie wrote in his excellent book Flying the Hump. C-46s eventually got three-blade Hamilton-Standard propellers, and one of the main reasons there are so few Commandos still flying is that those huge props are today so rare as to be essentially irreplaceable.

The airplane was also a maintenance hog, largely because of its leaky hydraulic system. On Hump trips, savvy crew chiefs would carry along a 55-gallon drum of hydraulic fluid to ensure they’d have enough to top off the system during the China turnaround. Among its many other nicknames, the Commando was thus dubbed Leaky Tiki. Because Curtiss assumed so big an airplane would require powered controls, it had hydraulic systems running the ailerons, elevator and rudder, as well as the landing gear and flaps. The control-boost systems were eventually removed, and the C-46 turned out to fly just fine without them. Though at least one C-46 Hump pilot said that being assigned to a C-47 trip “was like driving a sports car”—words of praise that perhaps had never before or since been applied to the Gooney Bird.

A Commando typically flew the Hump with a crew of three—two pilots and a radio operator. Despite numerous sources claiming that C-46s had flight engineers, there is no such position in the cockpit. Often a crew would also include a crew chief acting as a combined loadmaster and mechanic.

At the other end of the crew spectrum, C-46s were occasionally soloed over the Rockpile by especially experienced pilots. All of the airplane’s controls and systems were accessible from the left seat, unlike the C-47, which was soloed from the copilot’s chair for easy access to the cowl flaps. The C-46 also had one thoughtful feature that greatly aided cargo-loading: The cabin floor just inside the large cargo door was level when the airplane was parked. A forklift—or, as was sometimes the case in India, an elephant with a gasoline barrel wrapped in its trunk—was presented with a flat floor rather than the uphill tilt of a C-47. The Commando also had a particularly long tailwheel leg, to moderate the inclination of that uphill-when-parked floor.

Historian Barbara Tuchman blames Madame Chiang Kai-Shek for the C-46’s failings. “The Dragon Lady so incessantly pestered Roosevelt for more aircraft that he sent C-46s before they were ready,” Tuchman wrote. One C-46 pilot quoted in Flying the Hump remembered “transporting an assorted load of Kotex for Madame Chiang and some good California wine for her husband.” This at a time when three American crewmen died for every thousand tons of cargo carried into China, on missions substantially more dangerous than bomber runs over Europe.

Though C-46s operated mainly in the CBI Theater during WWII, they also carried cargo across the South Atlantic, between Brazil and North Africa and onward to Calcutta for staging over the Hump. The Marine Corps also flew the Navy version of the C-46—the Curtiss R5C-1—in support of its South Pacific amphibious island-hopping campaign.

Only a few C-46s served in Europe, most notably during Operation Varsity, the airdrop component of the Allied push across the Rhine River into Germany in late March 1945. During the assault, 19 of the 72 Commandos involved were shot down. C-47s fared far better, since they had been fitted with self-sealing fuel tanks. The C-46s not only had standard metal tanks, they still suffered from wing-root fuel pooling problems. German flak lit them up at an unconscionable rate, and since many downed Commandos took with them full loads of paratroops, U.S. commander Maj. Gen. Matthew Ridgway decreed that C-46s were never again to carry aloft an 82nd Airborne trooper.

The Commandos' stock in trade was the ability to transport large quantities of supplies to remote unprepared airfields like this one, "somewhere in China." (National Archives)

WWII was far from the last of the C-46’s wars. A number of Commandos became part of Chiang’s Republic of China Air Force fighting Mao’s Red Chinese, and several served with the French air force in Indochina, ultimately dropping supplies during the war-ending siege of Dien Bien Phu. The Israeli Air Force flew Commandos during the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, carrying license-built Messerschmitt Avia S-199 fighters from Czechoslovakia to Israel via South America and North Africa. C-46s were active in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War and in Vietnam, where one C-46, carrying 152 Vietnamese from Saigon to Bangkok, was the last fixed-wing aircraft to leave South Vietnam before the country was overrun. The Commando was finally retired from the USAF in 1968, though it’s possible that Reserve units continued using a few C-46s until as late as 1972.

The Central Intelligence Agency was a longtime C-46 user, both in its false-front airlines—Air America and its predecessor, the Chinese Civil Air Transport (CAT)—as well as in a variety of clandestine operations. The most notorious of these was the attempted Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba, in April 1961. Those who remember the disastrous CIA operation will recall a motley crew of warbirds—T-33s, Sea Furys, B-26 Invaders—but few remember that five C-46s were also an important part of the anti-Castro invasion.

During WWII Hump operations, a C-46 notched its first air combat victory when Captain Wally Gayda stuck a Browning Automatic Rifle out his cockpit window and emptied the entire magazine at an attacking Nakajima Ki.43 Oscar. Gayda hit the unsuspecting pilot, and the Oscar went down. During the Bay of Pigs operation, a C-46 scored the Commando’s second “kill.” Having dropped a load of doomed Cuban exile paratroopers, the transport was on its way back to the CIA’s secret Guatemala base when it was attacked by one of Castro’s Hawker Sea Furies. Something went wrong, probably an overenthusiastic too-low, too-slow stall/spin, and the Hawker augured into the Caribbean, killing the pilot.

Curtiss’ C-46 development ended in 1946, when Eastern Air Lines canceled its order for CW-20Es, a proposed Wright R-3350-powered passenger-carrying variant of the Commando. Eastern realized there were hundreds of cheap C-47s coming onto the surplus market, and the Gooneys could fly the short/medium-haul routes more efficiently than the fuel-hungry C-46. This nonetheless gave Curtiss plenty of time to publish postwar magazine ads touting the proposed new airliner with beaming stewardesses saying, “That’s why I’m for airlines that fly Commando!” We can only assume the young ladies kept their undies on.

C-46 upgrades became the specialty of several companies that transplanted more-powerful R-2800 versions and made various gross-weight upgrades. Maximum weight of some C-46s, originally 40,000-pound airplanes, rose as high as 52,500 pounds.

Cargo operators loved the Curtiss Calamity’s enormous cabin volume and heavy-lift capability, and the C-46 was largely responsible for the startup of Slick Airways, among others. Earl Slick bought 17 C-46s for $14,500 apiece—about $175,000 in 2016 dollars—and started using them to carry long lengths of oil-drilling pipe for Texas wildcatters. Slick was soon the largest air freight carrier in the country.

South and Central American airlines also fancied the Commando, in countries where air carriers were the only real roads to the interior, where mountains abounded and where many airfields were high, short and primitive. That combination gave me my only opportunity to fly a C-46. On a travel magazine assignment in Costa Rica in 1968, I found myself aboard a Lacsa (today called Avianca Costa Rica) C-46. I was a cocky new private pilot and sent a note to the cockpit announcing as much. The captain not only invited me up front but slid out of his seat and invited me to fly awhile. I remember little of the experience other than that the semicircular control wheel was the size of a toilet seat.

Different world, different times.

For further reading, contributing editor Stephan Wilkinson recommends: Flying the Hump, by Jeff Ethell and Don Downie C-46 Commando in Action, by Terry Love Hump Pilot, by Nedda R. Thomas and Over the Hump: The History of U.S. Air Force Airlift Operations, by Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner.

This feature originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here!

The aircraftofCurtiss

At the urging of the Aeronautical Society of New York to represent it in the 1909 Gordon Bennett Cup Race .

The first Curtiss-built aeroplane designated as such was the single-seat model ordered by the Aeronautical Society of New York on 2 March, .

In 1909, Glenn Curtiss decided to try for the $10,000 prize posted by the New York World newspaper for the first .

The first successful flight of what was originally called a hydroaeroplane or simply hydro, but is now known as a seaplane, .

The Model D was typical of the relatively obsolescent landplane types being built at the time in the United States, .

The second Curtiss hydro was a notable exception to the standard pusher design. The un-named machine that Curtiss used for his flight .

The first Curtiss flying-boat, tried at San Diego on 10 January, 1912, was more a hydro than a true boat. A .

The definitive 1913 Model F was used by the US Army as well as the US Navy, and sold to .

The Curtiss JN-4 two-seat biplane soon acquired the nickname 'Jenny' which was used widely during the inter-war years. It was .

At the beginning of 1915 there appeared the prototype Curtiss Model R, which was in 1935 given the retrospective designation .

The S-2 was essentially lhe Model S-1 fitted with new wings and a strut arrangement that eliminalcd the need .

Four examples of the Model L-2 triplane were built, three for the US Navy and one for the US Army.

Also called Baby Scout, the original Model S-1 was the smallest aeroplane that Curtiss could build around the 90hp OX engine. Construction .

At the time of its construction in 1915-16, the Curtiss Model T flying boat was the largest seaplane in the world. .

During 1917 the US Navy Bureau of Construction and Repair collaborated with Glenn Curtiss in an effort to produce a .

Essentially a triplane derivative of the S-2 Wireless (signifying lack of wing bracing wires) unarmed biplane "scout", the S-3, or "Triplane .

A refined version of the S-3 with revised strutting carrying the centre section of the upper wing and the root attachments .

The Curtiss H.16, the prototype of which appeared at the end of 1917, was the largest and most effective American .

This was a triplane similar to the S-3 intended as a seaplane Scout for the US Navy. This was .

In early 1917, before the wartime ban on private flying in the US, the famous aviatrix Katherine Stinson commissioned Curtiss to .

During 1917, the US Navy issued the Curtiss company with a contract for five single-seat fighting scout float seaplanes powered by a .

The CB (Curtiss Battleplane), unofficially known as the "Liberty Battler", was an experimental two-seat fighter developed and flown early in 1918 as .

Designed by Capt B L Smith of the US Marine Corps as a two-seat patrol fighter floatplane for use in the .

The third HA float fighter prototype embodied considerable redesign as the HA-2. Powered by a 12- cylinder Liberty 12 water-cooled engine, .

Designed by Charles B Kirkham, the Curtiss 18-T twoseat fighter triplane was ordered by the US Navy on 30 March 1918 when .

US Army interest in the 18-T prompted Curtiss to offer the same basic design in two-bay biplane configuration, and an order .

The first single-seat fighter of indigenous US design to achieve production status, the Model D was conceived around the 300hp Hispano-Suiza H .

Designed by the US Army Engineering Division as a specialised single-seat night fighter, two prototypes of the PN-1 were built by Curtiss, .

With the usual US Army/US Navy rivalry, the US Army decided it must have racing aircraft, Curtiss building for them .

Progenitor of the famous Hawk series of fighters, the PW-8 (the "PW" prefix indicating "Pursuit Water-cooled") was a single-seat two-bay fighter biplane .

The first Curtiss fighter built under the US Navy designating system combining type, sequence of design and manufacturer, the F4C-1 (F2C and .

In March 1925, the US Navy ordered nine P-1s with provision for float operation as F6Cs (the F5C designation was not .

On 7 March 1925, Curtiss was awarded a contract for 15 production examples of the XPW-8B as the P-1, this being .

The first Curtiss biplane to bear the name Falcon was the Liberty-powered Curtiss L-113 (Model 37) which appeared in 1924. .

The first radial-engined Hawk resulted from the mating of a P-1A airframe with a 390hp Curtiss R-1454 engine as the XP-3 .

Installation of the new 600hp Curtiss V-1570-1 Conqueror engine in a P-2 airframe for participation in the September 1927 air races at .

The first Curtiss fighter designed from the outset for shipboard use as opposed to being an adaptation of a land-based fighter, the .

In development at the same time as the Keystone XB-1, the Curtiss XB-2 was quite similar but proved to be the superior aircraft. .

To meet a US Marine Corps requirement for a two-seat fighter with bombing and observation capability, Curtiss adapted the airframe of the .

A USAAC contract placed on 14 May 1927 called for five aircraft with airframes essentially similar to that of the P-1, .

On 18 June 1928, the USAAC placed a contract with Curtiss for one prototype of the XP-10 single-seat fighter powered by a .

Although designated in the F8C series, the XF8C-2 and XF8C-4 differed extensively from the F8C-1 and -3, and were dual-role .

The XP-17 comprised the airframe of the first P-1 mated to the new 480hp Wright V-1460-3 Tornado inverted inline air-cooled engine, .

During 1928, the 600hp Curtiss H-1640 Chieftain 12- cylinder air-cooled radial appeared to show promise as a fighter power plant, and Curtiss .

Designed to meet a lightweight shipboard fighter requirement - other contenders being the Berliner Joyce XFJ-1 and General Aviation XFA-1 - the .

The quest for speed led to the production of two competing monoplane prototypes to meet a US Army attack bomber .

In 1931, the third production P-6 (which had been converted to P-6A standard) was withdrawn from service and returned to Curtiss .

Not to be confused with the Curtiss B-2 or its 18-passenger Condor airliner development, the Condor was a 15-passenger commercial .

The XP-31 or Curtiss Shrike of 1932-3 was an all-metal, low wing, strut-braced fighter design which drew heavily upon the .

The Curtiss XP-23 was the last biplane in the pursuit series. In most respects an entirely new design and a .

The first YA-8 was used to test the feasibility of producing a radial engine-powered version of the Curtiss A-8. .

The Hawk II was essentially an export version of the XF11C-2 with a Wright R-1820F-3 Cyclone rated at 710hp at 1676m .

The fourth production F11C-2 (Goshawk) was completed with manually-operated retractable main undercarriage members accommodated by a deepened forward fuselage. It was powered .

Based on a US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics design for a two-seat fighter, the XF12C-1 all-metal parasol monoplane, ordered on 30 June .

Perhaps the most unusual single-seat fighter developed by Curtiss was the Model 70, which was designed from the outset to be flown .

On 16 April 1932, the US Navy ordered two prototypes of a new shipboard fighter under the designations XF11C-1 and XF11C-2, the .

The US Army had ordered 46 of the A-8B Shrike, but maintenance problems with the liquid-cooled engines of the .

Last of the Curtiss biplanes to be used operationally by the US Navy, the SOC Seagull has a service history .

Requiring a new two-seat fighter, the US Navy ordered a prototype from Curtiss in 1932 under the designation XF12C-1. .

The P-36 or Curtiss Model 75 Hawk, commonly called the Mohawk, began life as a private venture, soldiered bravely .

Soon after receiving an order from the USAAC for an evaluation quantity of its Model 75 fighter, Curtiss began to consider .

The CW-19L Coupe was designed by George Page as an advanced all-metal two-seat cantilever low-wing monoplane for the private owner. .

Designed by Donovan R Berlin to participate in a USAAC fighter contest scheduled to take place on 27 May 1935, the Model .

The export version of the BF2C-1, the Hawk III, differed from the US Navy fighter-bomber in reverting to the wooden wing .

The 'long-nosed' P-37 was a Curtiss attempt in the late 1930s to couple the P-36 Mohawk design with the .

One of the early production Curtiss P-36 aircraft was given an 864.4kW Allison V-1710-19 (G-13) engine (and designated XP-40) instead .

Completed late in 1938 as a company-owned demonstrator, the Hawk 75-R was essentially similar to the USAAC's P-36A. Its Pratt & .

In 1938, chief engineer Willis Wells of the St Louis Airplane Division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation began the development of a single-seat .

The Curtiss XP-42, a conversion of a P-36A Mohawk airframe, was employed as a testbed at Wright Field, Ohio, beginning .

In 1937 the US Navy invited proposals for the design of a scout monoplane which would offer improved performance over .

The experimental contract for the Helldiver was awarded by the US Navy on 15 May 1939 and the prototype XSB2C-1 .

The Commando was evolved from the Curtiss-Wright CW-20 which was originally laid out as a 36-passenger pressurised commercial transport in .

The prototype Curtiss Wright CW-22 two-seat low-wing general-purpose or advanced training monoplace was developed at the Curtiss-Wright St Louis factory in .

Prior to the final termination of P-40 development, some effort was expended in combining aerodynamic refinement with increased power to produce .

The P-60 designation applies to a family of widely different Curtiss fighters, each reflecting the urgency of the builder's unsuccessful .

The XP-46 of 1939 was a late attempt by Curtiss to capitalize on lessons from early fighting in Europe and .

In 1940, with Europe already at war, the US Army Air Corps knew that it was essential to begin preparations .

The Curtiss XP-55 Ascender is perhaps best known of the three pusher fighters built for a 1941 competition in response .

On 30 June 1941, Curtiss received a prototype development contract for the XF14C-1 single-seat shipboard fighter designed around the 2,200hp Lycoming XH-2470-4 liquid-cooled .

The Curtiss XP-62 was the final propeller-driven fighter built by its manufacturer and the second largest single-seat fighter of orthodox .

Development of the Curtiss SC Seahawk began in June 1942, when the US Navy requested the company to submit proposals .

In May 1944, Curtiss indicated to the AAF that it wished to abandon further work on the P-60 series fighters because .

In late 1943 Curtiss received a US Navy order for two single-seat torpedo-bomber aircraft prototypes under the designation XBTC-1. A .

US Navy interest in the mixed-power concept for shipboard fighters - aircraft employing a piston engine for cruise and an auxiliary turbojet .

The Curtiss XF-87 Blackhawk fighter was an eye-catching and truly graceful all-black aircraft which attracted plenty of attention in flights .

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II, and remained in frontline service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter of World War II, after the P-51 and P-47 by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang is an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II and the Korean War, among other conflicts. The Mustang was designed in April 1940 by a design team headed by James Kindelberger of North American Aviation (NAA) in response to a requirement of the British Purchasing Commission. The Purchasing Commission approached North American Aviation to build Curtiss P-40 fighters under license for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Rather than build an old design from another company, North American Aviation proposed the design and production of a more modern fighter. The prototype NA-73X airframe was rolled out on 9 September 1940, 102 days after the contract was signed, and first flew on 26 October.

The Curtiss P-36 Hawk, also known as the Curtiss Hawk Model 75, is an American-designed and built fighter aircraft of the 1930s and 40s. A contemporary of both the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, it was one of the first of a new generation of combat aircraft—a sleek monoplane design making extensive use of metal in its construction and powered by a powerful radial engine.

The Ryan XF2R Dark Shark was an American experimental aircraft built for the United States Navy that combined turboprop and turbojet propulsion. It was based on Ryan Aeronautical's earlier FR Fireball, but replaced the Fireball's piston engine with a turboprop engine.

The Seversky P-35 is an American fighter aircraft built by the Seversky Aircraft Company in the late 1930s. A contemporary of the Hawker Hurricane and Messerschmitt Bf 109, the P-35 was the first single-seat fighter in United States Army Air Corps to feature all-metal construction, retractable landing gear, and an enclosed cockpit.

The Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender is a 1940s United States prototype fighter aircraft built by Curtiss-Wright. Along with the Vultee XP-54 and Northrop XP-56, it resulted from United States Army Air Corps proposal R-40C issued on 27 November 1939 for aircraft with improved performance, armament, and pilot visibility over existing fighters it specifically allowed for unconventional aircraft designs. An unusual design for its time, it had a canard configuration, a rear-mounted engine, swept wings, and two vertical tails. Because of its pusher design, it was sarcastically referred to as the "Ass-ender". Like the XP-54, the Ascender was designed for the Pratt & Whitney X-1800 engine, but was re-designed after that engine project was canceled. It was also the first Curtiss fighter aircraft to use tricycle landing gear.

The Republic P-43 Lancer was a single-engine, all-metal, low-wing monoplane fighter aircraft built by Republic, first delivered to the United States Army Air Corps in 1940. A proposed development was the P-44 Rocket. While not a particularly outstanding fighter, the P-43A had a very good high-altitude performance coupled with an effective oxygen system. Fast and well-armed with excellent long-range capabilities, until the arrival of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, the Lancer was the only American fighter capable of catching a Japanese Mitsubishi Ki-46 "Dinah" reconnaissance plane at the speeds and heights at which they flew. In addition, the P-43 flew many long-range, high-altitude photo recon missions until replaced by F-4/F-5 Lightnings in both the USAAF and RAAF.

The Curtiss P-60 was a 1940s American single-engine single-seat, low-wing monoplane fighter aircraft developed by the Curtiss-Wright company as a successor to their P-40. It went through a lengthy series of prototype versions, eventually evolving into a design that bore little resemblance to the P-40. None of these versions reached production.

The Curtiss XP-62 was a prototype single-engine interceptor aircraft, that was built at the request of the United States Army Air Forces, by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. It first flew in 1943.

The General Motors/Fisher P-75 Eagle was an American fighter aircraft designed by the Fisher Body Division of General Motors. Development started in September 1942 in response to United States Army Air Forces requirement for a fighter possessing an extremely high rate of climb, using the most powerful liquid-cooled engine then available, the Allison V-3420. The program was cancelled after only a small number of prototypes and production aircraft had been completed, as it was no longer required in its original role, could not be quickly deployed, and possessed no significant advantages over aircraft already in production.

The Grumman XP-50 was a land-based development of the shipboard XF5F-1 Skyrocket fighter, entered into a United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) contest for a twin-engine heavy interceptor aircraft. The USAAC placed an order for a prototype on 25 November 1939, designating it XP-50, but it lost the competition to the Lockheed XP-49.

The McDonnell XP-67 "Bat" or "Moonbat" was a prototype for a twin-engine, long-range, single-seat interceptor aircraft for the United States Army Air Forces. Although the design was conceptually advanced, it was beset by numerous problems and never approached its anticipated level of performance. The project was cancelled after the sole completed prototype was destroyed by an engine fire.

The Republic XP-69 was an American fighter aircraft proposed by Republic Aviation in 1941 in response to a requirement by the United States Army Air Corps for a high-speed fighter. Manufacturers were encouraged to consider unorthodox designs although the design was ordered as a prototype it was canceled because of delays with the engine that was to power it.

The Vultee XP-54 Swoose Goose was a prototype fighter built by the Vultee Aircraft Company for the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF).

The Bell P-76 was the proposed designation for a production model derivative of the XP-39E, a single-engine American fighter aircraft prototype of World War II.

The Curtiss XP-42 was an experimental fighter built by Curtiss Aircraft in the late 1930s to research engine cooling and improving the performance of the Curtiss P-36.

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was a WWII fighter aircraft that was developed from the P-36 Hawk, via the P-37. Many variants were built, some in large numbers, under names including the Hawk, Tomahawk and Kittyhawk.

The Curtiss YP-20 was an American biplane fighter project developed by Curtiss for the United States Army Air Service.

Over twenty variants of the North American P-51 Mustang fighter were produced from 1940, when it first flew, to after the Second World War, some of which were employed also in the Korean War and in several other conflicts. Numerous examples of the aircraft survive to this day, often as warbirds or heavily modified air racers.

The Curtiss P-37 was a fighter aircraft made by Curtiss-Wright in 1937. A development of the Curtiss P-36 Hawk, the P-37 never entered production.

Curtiss XP-40Q Fighter

Although not readily apparent at the time, Curtiss-Wright’s Airplane Division (Curtiss) was already in a state of decline at the start of World War II. The company’s final two truly successful aircraft, the P-40 Warhawk fighter and C-46 Commando transport, had already flown. While the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver carrier-based dive bomber would achieve some success toward the end of the war, its development was prolonged and plagued with issues, and the aircraft was never liked by its pilots and crews. Throughout the war years, Curtiss continually strove to develop world-beating aircraft but only managed to build one dead-end prototype after another. A brief glimmer of hope lay in the last model of the P-40, the P-40Q (Curtiss model 87X).

The Curtiss XP-40Q-1 (42-9987) with its standard canopy and sleek nose. Note the scoop for the engine air intake above the cowling.

XP-40Q development was initiated by 1943. The goal was to improve the P-40 to equal or surpass the performance of newer fighter aircraft. It was thought that the improved performance of the P-40Q would justify the aircraft entering production, and its similarities with P-40s then being produced would minimize tooling and production delays. In addition, there would be some part interchangeability with older P-40 aircraft, and current P-40 pilots and crews would be familiar with the new aircraft and its systems.

Three XP-40Q prototypes were built their origins and histories have always been a point of disagreement between sources. All XP-40Qs were built up from other P-40 airframes. They all had only four .50-cal machine guns with 235 rpg. All of the XP-40Q aircraft were powered by two-stage supercharged Allison V-1710 engines and a four-blade propeller.

Another view of the XP-40Q-1. Note the radiators and oil coolers mounted in the wing center section.

The XP-40Q-1 was the first aircraft, and it was built in 1943 from a P-40K-10 (serial 42-9987) that had been damaged in a landing accident on 27 January 1943. The Q-1 was painted olive drab and had the standard P-40 wing and canopy. The nose of the aircraft was lengthened to accommodate the V-1710-101 (F27R) engine. At 3,200 rpm, the -101 engine produced 1,500 hp (1,119 kW) at 6,000 ft (1,829 m) and 1,325 hp (988 kW) for takeoff. The Q-1’s engine air intake was positioned above the cowling. The radiator and oil cooler were moved from the P-40’s iconic chin location to the wing center section, just below the fuselage (similar to the XP-40K). The XP-40Q-1 had a 37 ft 4 in (11.4 m) wingspan and was 35 ft 4 in long (10.8 m)—about 2 ft (.6 m) longer than a standard P-40.

The Q-1’s first flight reportedly occurred on 13 June 1943 from the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York. It is not clear if the aircraft suffered another accident, or if Curtiss was unhappy with its configuration and decided to modify it further. Regardless, by November 1943, the Q-1 had been modified and redesignated XP-40Q-2. The aircraft’s rear fuselage was cut down and a bubble canopy installed. Engine coolant radiators were positioned in the wings just outboard of the main gear. The oil cooler and engine air intake were relocated to the classic P-40 chin position, but the scoop was shallower and more elegant. The Q-2 retained the olive drab paint.

The Curtiss XP-40Q-2 (still 42-9987) after modification with a bubble canopy. The oil cooler and engine air intake have been relocated to the scoop under the engine. The coolant radiators have been moved outside of the main gear. The wings are still the standard P-40 wings, but they were later clipped by about one foot.

Still utilizing the -101 engine, the Q-2 was noted for having excellent visibility and handling. The aircraft had balanced controls and was very maneuverable, with a tight turn radius. Capt. Gustav Lundquist had evaluated the Q-2 and judged it to be the best P-40 he had flown he recommended that further flight testing should be conducted. In December 1943, the Air Materiel Command recognized the XP-40Q-2’s performance and recommended that two additional prototypes be constructed.

Reportedly, the Q-2 was delivered to Eglin Field, Florida for testing in January 1944, but it was back at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York in March for a series of flight tests. By this time, the Q-2 had its wingtips clipped about one foot each, and a V-1710-121 (F28R) engine was installed. The -121 produced 1,800 hp (1,342 kW) with water injection at 3,200 rpm up to 20,000 ft (6,096 m) and 1,425 hp (1,062 kW) for takeoff.

The XP-40Q-2A (42-45722) looking very much like the XP-40Q-2 but with clipped wings. This aircraft would change little throughout its existence.

A flight evaluation from April 1944 again noted the XP-40Q-2 as superior to all other P-40s and a very good aircraft overall. The XP-40Q-2 had a 35 ft 3 in (10.7 m) wingspan and was 35 ft 4 in (10.8 m) long. With full engine power at 3,000 rpm and water injection, the aircraft achieved 420 mph (676 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,572 m) and had a maximum climb rate of 4,410 fpm (22.4 m/s) at 5,000 ft (1,524 m). At 3,200 rpm and with water injection, maximum speed was 422 mph (679 km/h) at 20,500 ft (6,248 m), and the climb rate increased by as much as 530 fpm (2.7 m/s) depending on altitude. However, the 3,200 rpm engine speed was only shown to offer an advantage between 12,000 and 33,000 ft (3,658 and 10,058 m). With just military power, the Q-2 recorded a speed of 407 mph (655 km/h) at 24,000 ft (7,315 m) and a climb rate of 3,210 fpm (16.3 m/s) at sea level. The aircraft could climb from sea level to 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 4.8 minutes, 30,000 ft (9,144 m) in 8.9 minutes, and 39,000 ft (11,887 m) in 26.1 minutes. The Q-2’s service ceiling was 39,000 ft (11,887 m), and it had a gross weight of 9,000 lb (4,082 kg). The aircraft’s range was 700 miles (1,127 km).

The Q-2 was damaged when it nosed over after a test flight on 24 March 1944. The aircraft was repaired and then sent to Wright Field, Ohio in mid-1944. The aircraft was damaged again when it ground looped while landing on 31 July 1944. It is not clear if the aircraft was repaired or if the damage was too severe.

This image of the XP-40Q-2A illustrates the clipped wings. Note the size of the bubble canopy and how to could be a bit smaller. The four .50-cal wing guns are easily seen. The XP-40Q was definitely a nice looking aircraft.

The next aircraft was the XP-40Q-2A. It was built from the initial P-40K-1 (serial 42-45722) that had been converted to the (unofficial) XP-40N. During the XP-40N conversion, the aircraft had a bubble canopy installed. This modification predated and served as the template for the bubble canopy that was installed on the Q-2.

The Q-2A was very similar to the final configuration of the Q-2—with a bubble canopy, clipped wings, and -121 engine. However, some modifications to the cockpit and canopy were made, and automatic radiator and oil cooler shutters were added. The Q-2A had a natural metal finish.

The Q-2A’s first flight occurred prior to the end of March 1944. The aircraft was plagued with engine trouble that resulted in a number of forced landings. The Q-2A spent most of its test time down for repairs. As a result, the Army Air Force (AAF) focused on the next aircraft, the Q-3, and loaned the Q-2A to Allison for engine tests. The Q-2A most likely had the same specifications and performance as the -121-powered Q-2.

The XP-40Q-3 was the last aircraft in the series. The Q-3 was built in early 1944 from a P-40N-25 (serial 43-24571) and was the only XP-40Q actually classified as such by the AAF. The aircraft was very similar to the XP-40Q-2A except for some refinements to the canopy and windscreen. The canopy was a bit smaller, and the flat windscreen was longer and more angled than the windscreen used on the preceding aircraft. Overall, the changes improved pilot visibility. The Q-3 had a -121 engine and a natural metal finish.

The last of the Curtiss P-40Qs: the XP-40Q-3 (43-24571). This aircraft later had anti-glare paint applied to the upper cowling, its serial number painted on the the tail, and 󈫼” painted on the chin scoop. Note the radiator air inlets in the wings.

Delivered to AAF in April 1944, the Q-3 suffered an engine failure during an early test flight. The aircraft was moderately damaged in the subsequent forced landing. At this time, other aircraft with superior performance were available, and there was no AAF interest in repairing the Q-3 because there was no need for a P-40Q. It is doubtful that much performance testing was conducted on the Q-3, but the results should have been similar to those of the Q-2.

In March 1946, Allison still had the XP-40Q-2A (the second XP-40Q) when the AAF declared the aircraft as surplus. It is not clear if Allison purchased the aircraft and then later resold it or if it was sold as surplus directly from the AAF. Regardless, Joe Ziegler acquired the aircraft, and it was registered as NX300B. Given race number 82, the Q-2A was entered in the 1947 Thompson Trophy Race (run on 1 September 1947), but it did not qualify. Ziegler started the race anyway and was running in fourth place when the engine caught fire after just completing the 13th lap. Ziegler pulled up and off the course and bailed out of the Q-2A. Zeigler suffered a broken leg, and the Q-2A was destroyed.

This view of the XP-40Q-3 illustrates the revised canopy compared to the XP-40Q-2A. Note the oil cooler exit doors on the cowling just in front of the wing.

The story of the XP-40Q aircraft is a confusing one involving only three airframes but somewhere around eight designations and a number of different configurations. The P-40Q was one of the finest fighters Curtiss ever built, but the aircraft was two years or so too late. Its performance and capabilities were matched or exceeded by other aircraft already in service. Even if the P-40Q airframe had been ready two years earlier, the two-stage Allison engines would not have been ready, as they were still having developmental trouble in 1944. Sadly, the XP-40Q scenario was played out again and again as Curtiss tried to create another successful aircraft but only managed to produce aircraft that were ill-timed and outclassed.

Note: There is no indication that any of the XP-40Q aircraft used any type of a laminar flow wing. There is also no indication that any XP-40Q information was passed from Curtiss to North American Aviation (NAA) during the NA-73X’s (P-51’s) development. Not only are the two aircraft different in almost every way, there is no part of their separate developmental timelines that coincide. NAA did purchase some information from Curtiss at the request of the British government, but that information pertained to the XP-46 and arrived after the NA-73X was already designed.

The XP-40Q-2A seen at Cleveland, Ohio for the Thompson Trophy Race in 1947. Other than some paint, including its registration and race number, the aircraft had changed little since its AAF days. It is truly unfortunate that the aircraft would soon be destroyed as a result of an engine fire.

Curtiss XP-42

The Curtiss XP-42, a conversion of a P-36A Mohawk airframe, was employed as a testbed at Wright Field, Ohio, beginning in March 1939 to determine whether stream-lining could reduce drag in a radial-powered fighter and make it competitive with more advanced fighters employing inline engines. This concept was seen as an alternative to adapting the P-36A airframe to an inline powerplant, as had been done with the prototype P-40 Warhawk. Delivered to the Army in March 1939, the XP-42 was powered by a 783kW Pratt & Whitney R-1830-31 Twin Wasp radial enclosed by a bullet-shaped, sheet-metal cowling extended forward to culminate in a large, pointed spinner. An airscoop below the spinner provided cooling air, while smaller intakes above the engine provided air to the carburettor. It was immediately clear that this sleek, long-nosed configuration offered none of the advantages of the inline engine employed not only by the P-40 but also by such types as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and North American Mustang. The aerodynamic nose shape provided almost no reduction in drag, and cooling problems proved almost insurmountable. While the XP-42 was marginally faster than the open-cowl P-36A, its performance did not compare favourably with the P-40 or with other, newer fighters of the immediate pre-war period.

A variety of nose configurations was tried on the XP-42, altering its fuselage length with each change, but none vindicated the enclosed radial engine and Curtiss's production facilities, in the event, were taken up with the inline-powered P-40. When hostilities began, the XP-42 had been ruled out as a possible production aircraft but continued to aid in research. In 1942, the XP-42 tested an all-flying stabilizer, similar to the stabilator found on modern jets. The XP-42 had begun flying in natural metal finish and was camouflaged during one of its minor rebuilds. The airframe, which contributed knowledge to designers and engineers, was eventually taken out of service as other wartime priorities beckoned. Curtiss would continue to explore new fighter ideas with XP-46, XP-60 and XF-87, but the company's predominant role in the fighter field was fast becoming history.

Sturm what are you talking about? At that point in US Air Corp history performance requirements were issued to all interested companies and designs were openly competed. A lot of attempts were made to improve the breed of several designs. The p-36 design went to the P-40, P-42, P-46 and P-60, just for one example. There were several variations on the P-60. None of them were improvements over existing designs, so why bother with them. The North American P-51 was not even asked for but offered to the British as a better design than the P-40. First an acceptable design did not really come into its own until the Allison engine was replaced by the Rolls Royce Merlin. So there is little evidence of favoritism. Had there been then Curtiss with its long line of fighters from the 1920's and 30's would have remained the favorite, clearly they did not. Certainly nothing, absolutely nothing in comparison to the NAZI's.
Leo, what do you mean in your question? The US Army Air Corp tried just about anything that came along. Just look at the P-45, -46, -48, -49, -50. And there are several more. No matter how you cut it the best designs were the more conservative designs.


  • Republic of China Air Force operated 50 Hawk II. [3]
  • Cuban Air Force received three P-6S fighters with the 450   hp (336   kW) Wasp radial engine.
  • Japan bought one P-6S, possibly updated with a Conqueror engine.
  • Royal Netherlands East Indies Army Air Force received eight examples of a P-6D with the Conqueror engine in 1930, another six were license-built by Aviolanda in 1931 and sent to Dutch East Indies as well. Three P-6 were lost before war: two in midair collision on 27 February 1936 and one probably after crash-landing 5 February 1935.
  • United States Army Air Corps
  • Bolivian Air Force used the P-6S during the Chaco War. On 22 December 1932 a P-6 Hawk from Fortín Vitriones attacked Paraguayan gunboat ARP Tacuary which was anchored at Bahía Negra near ( 20䓍󉎸″S 58䓊󉎉″W  /  20.23°S 58.16694°W  / -20.23 -58.16694 )


Every Christmas, the late Otto Schnering, owner of Cary-based Curtiss Candy Company Farms, threw a large company party in the bullpen of the farm, although, judging by the sentiments of former employees, it was more of a family affair.

Schnering "was very well-liked," Dean Dunn, a former employee said. "It was a big family."

Now, 28 years after the farm was sold to G.D. Searle, and subsequently moved to Elburn, several former employees have joined together to publish a 172-page book that tells the history of the farm. The book includes 165 photographs.

Readers got their first look at the finished product Dec. 20, when the book rolled off the presses.

"There area lot of people living around the valley today . . . that worked for the farm (which ran along Cary-Algonquin Road). That's the reason we're writing this," Dunn said. "At one time, it was estimated about half the town of Cary worked at the farm or was employed with it in some way."

Nancy Johnson Helmar of Cary, one of the co-authors of the book, grew up on the farm, where her father was employed caring for the chickens, turkeys and ducks.

Helmar remembered the farm as a fun place where she and her friends got together for baseball games and roller skating. She told how each year, horseback-riding competitions were held for the kids.

Helmar said that the farm was self-sufficient. It included a private well and dump, and Schnering gave free eggs, milk and chickens to the employees. He also dug and stocked several trout ponds on the property.

Helmar remembered growing up on the farm and wrote that portion of the book. But, internationally the farm was renowned for its top-quality cattle, Belgian horses, Shropshire sheep and Yorkshire hogs. It also was a leading enterprise in the field of artificial insemination of cattle.

According to Dunn, Schnering founded the farm in 1942 to produce milk for his candy products. At one time, Schnering's operation included 10,000 acres of farmland in four counties north and west of Chicago.

Schnering died in 1953, and the farm continued to operate until 1968.

"I called the kids that lived on the farm," Helmar said, "and found out what they were doing (when the book came out). I haven't seen them since I was a kid, but you never lose those friendships. They're friends for life."


In 1907, Glenn Curtiss was recruited by the scientist Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, to be among the founding members of Bell's Aerial Experimental Association (AEA), with the purpose of helping establish an aeronautical research and development organization. [1] According to Bell, it was a "co-operative scientific association, not for gain but for the love of the art and doing what we can to help one another." [2]

In 1909, the AEA was disbanded [3] and Curtiss formed the Herring-Curtiss Company with Augustus Moore Herring on March 20, 1909, [4] which was renamed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910. [5] [6]

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was created on January 13, 1916 from the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York and Curtiss Motor Company of Bath, New York. Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts, became a subsidiary in February 1916. [7]

With the onset of World War I, military orders rose sharply, and Curtiss needed to expand quickly. In 1916, the company moved its headquarters and most manufacturing activities to Buffalo, New York, where there was far greater access to transportation, manpower, manufacturing expertise, and much needed capital. The company housed an aircraft engine factory in the former Taylor Signal Company-General Railway Signal Company. [8] An ancillary operation was begun in Toronto, Ontario that was involved in both production and training, setting up the first flying school in Canada in 1915. [9]

In 1917, the two major aircraft patent holders, the Wright Company and the Curtiss Company, had effectively blocked the building of new airplanes, which were desperately needed as the United States was entering World War I. The U.S. government, as a result of a recommendation of a committee formed by Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, pressured the industry to form a cross-licensing organization (in other terms a Patent pool), the Manufacturer's Aircraft Association. [10] [11] [12]

Curtiss was instrumental in the development of U.S. Naval Aviation by providing training for pilots and providing aircraft. The first major order was for 144 various subtypes of the Model F trainer flying boat. [4] In 1914, Curtiss had lured B. Douglas Thomas from Sopwith to design the Model J trainer, which led to the JN-4 two-seat biplane trainer (known affectionately as the "Jenny"). [13] [14]

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company worked with the United States' British and Canadian allies, resulting in JN-4 (Can) trainers (nicknamed the "Canuck") being built in Canada. [15] In order to complete large military orders, JN-4 production was distributed to five other manufacturers. After the war, large numbers of JN-4s were sold as surplus, making influential as the first plane for many interwar pilots, including Amelia Earhart. [16] A stamp was printed to commemorate the Curtiss JN-4, however a printing error resulted in some having the aircraft image inverted, which has become very valuable, and one of the best known rare stamps, even being featured in a number of movies.

The Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was used extensively in the war for anti-submarine patrols and was operated from bases in Nova Scotia, Canada, France and Portugal. The John Cyril Porte of the Royal Navy and Curtiss worked together to improve the design of the Curtiss flying boats resulting in the Curtiss F5L and the similar Felixstowe F.3. Curtiss also worked with the US Navy to develop the NC-4, which became the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1919, making several stops enroute. By the end of World War I, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company would claim to be the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world, employing 18,000 in Buffalo and 3,000 in Hammondsport, New York. Curtiss produced 10,000 aircraft during that war, and more than 100 in a single week.

Peace brought cancellation of wartime contracts. In September 1920, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company underwent a financial reorganization and Glenn Curtiss cashed out his stock in the company for $32 million and retired to Florida. [17] He continued as a director of the company but served only as an advisor on design. Clement M. Keys gained control of the company and it later became the nucleus of a large group of aviation companies. [18]

Curtiss seaplanes won the Schneider Cup in two consecutive races, those of 1923 and 1925. The 1923 race was won by U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Rittenhouse flying a Curtiss C.R.3 to 177.266 miles per hour (285.282 km/h).

Piloted by U.S. Army Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, a Curtiss R3C won the Pulitzer Trophy Race on October 12, 1925, at a speed of 248.9 miles per hour (400.6 km/h). [19] Thirteen days later, Jimmy Doolittle won the Schneider Trophy in the same aircraft fitted with floats with a top speed of 232.573 miles per hour (374.290 km/h).

The Curtiss Robin light transport was first flown in 1928, becoming one of the company's biggest sellers during the Great Depression, and the 769 built helped keep the company solvent when orders for military aircraft were hard to find.

Curtiss-Wright Corporation

On July 5, 1929, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company together with 11 other Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies merged to became the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. One of the last projects started by Curtiss Aeroplane was the ambitious Curtiss-Bleecker SX-5-1 Helicopter, a design that had propellers located midpoint on each of the four large rotors that drove the main rotors. The design, while costly and well engineered, was a failure. [20]

Curtiss Aviation School

Curtiss also operated an flying school at Long Branch Aerodrome in Toronto Township, Ontario from 1915 to 1917 before being taken over by the Royal Flying Corps Canada. [21]

Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station

Glenn H. Curtiss sponsored the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station on a 20-acre tract east of Newport News, VA Boat Harbor in the Fall of 1915 with Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin as head. Many civilian students, including Canadians, later became famed WW1 flyers. Victor Carlstrom, Vernon Castle, Eddie Stinson and General Billy Mitchell trained here. The school was disbanded in 1922.

Watch the video: C-47 departs Richards Field (May 2022).