Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930

Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930

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Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930

Here we see a Curtiss F6C-4 'Hawk', probably being used as a fighter training aircraft, c.1930. The F6C-4 introduced a Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial air-cooled engine, replacing the inline engine used on earlier versions of the F6C. Radial engines were widely adopted by the US Navy as they were easier to maintain at sea than inline engines.

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 .

Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930 - History

Virginia Warplanes

Data current to 12 June 2021.

(Bill Larkins Photos)

Republic P-47 Thunderbolts, Virginia Air National Guard visiting Las Vegas, 1950.

(Bill Larkins Photo)

Douglas B-26 Invader, Virginia Air National Guard visiting Las Vegas, 1950.

(Mike Freer, Touchdown Aviation Photos)

Republic F-105D Thunderchief, 149th TFS/192nd TFG Virginia Air National Guard based at Byrd IAP, Richmond, Virginia.

(Don S. Montgomery, USN Photo)

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7D-10-CV Corsair II (Serial No. 71-0333), 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 192nd Tactical Fighter Group, Virginia Air National Guard, 1990.

( TSgt. Dave Buttner, USAF Photo)

General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon, 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard, 2003.

(USGOV-PD Photo)

General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon (Serial No. 86-0244),149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard, 1996. This aircraft is painted in Second World War 328th Fighter Squadron markings the unit wore while stationed at RAF Bodney, England during the war. The predecessor 328th FS was part of the 352d Fighter Group, the “Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney”.

(Tech Sgt. Ben Bloker, USAF Photo)

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptors, 27th Fighter Squadron, and 41st Flight Test Squadron flying in formation with General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcons, 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, Virginia Air National Guard, during a training mission off the coast of Virginia on 30 March 2006.

(USAF Photo)

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor (Serial No. 04-4082) from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia. This aircraft is painted with a temporary "Blue Nose" decoration which duplicates the P-51D flown by Major George Preddy during the Second World War while he was commander of the 328th FS from which the 192nd FW was derived. Note that the F-22A has the "FF" tail code of the 1st Fighter Wing and not the "VA" tail code of the Virginia Air National Guard, 2007.

(USAF Photo)

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor (Serial No. 04-4082) from the 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley–Eustis, Virginia.

(Lance Cpl. Dan T. Le, USMC Photo)

Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor, 149th Fighter Squadron, 192nd Fighter Wing.

North America is replete in aviation history, both military and civilian. The sheer size of the United States dictated an early interest in air defense and profoundly influenced the nation's dependence on air travel. It is no wonder that the United States developed as an ”air-faring” nation. A large part of the leadership that contributed to that development can be traced to America's Air Force. Indeed, its proud military heritage is embodied in the dedicated individuals who have served and continue to do so - and in the marvelous aircraft they have flown.

The preservation and public display of these aircraft is a labor of love for many, including the editor of this book. If you are an enthusiast of military aviation history, or one with a passing interest who simply wishes to learn more, you will find a wealth of information in these well-researched pages.

Virginia Warplane Survivors

Bealeton, Flying Circus Aerodrome, Route 17, Box 99, Bealeton, VA 22712.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Bird biplane, 1929, Reg. No. NC980V.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 1943, Reg. No. N68853. Flying Circus. All other aircraft on the FCA are privately owned.

Boeing Stearman A-75-N1 Kaydet (Serial No. 75-762), Reg. No. N58212.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Boeing Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet (Serial No. 75-773), 1942, “88”, Reg. No. N53414.

Boeing Stearman N2S-5 Kaydet (Serial No. 75-8648), Reg. No. N17811.

Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet, (Serial No. 75-5302), Reg. No. N69CB.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 1943, “Terryific”, Reg. No. N4786.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 1943, “Yellowbird”, Reg. No. N1066M.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 1941, “Inverted Roberta”, Reg. No. N49986.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 1943, “Gulfhawk”, Reg. No. N27WE.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), VN2S-3, “747”.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Boeing Stearman A-75 Kaydet (Serial No.), 03, “No Bucks – No Buck Rogers”, Reg. No. N46592.

Boeing Stearman PT-27 Kaydet, RCAF (Serial No. FD993), USAAF (Serial No. 42-15595), restored to flying status, this aircraft wears RCAF colours.

Brewster Fleet Model 1 (Serial No. 40), Reg. No. N1980M.

Corbin Jr. Ace, Reg. No. N4731C.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Fleet Model 2, 1929, “USS Akron”, Reg. No. N9433.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Fleet Model 2, Reg. No. NC86V.

Piper J-3 Cub, 1946, Reg. No. N4693S.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Piper L-4 Grasshopper, 1945, Reg. No. N33554.

(The Flying Circus Photo)

Piper L-16, 1946, “Sweet Sixteen”, Reg. No. N85636.

(Vernon Wells Photo)

Waco UPF-7 (PT-14), 1939, Reg. No. N2291.

Waco ZPF-7, 1942, Reg. No. NC32162.


Lockheed C-121G Super Constellation (Serial No. 4137), Reg. No. N105CF. Being used as a source of spares for the restoration of " Columbine II ".

(TSgt. Ron Woods, USAF Photo, 24 Oct 1990)

( TSgt. Ron Woods, USAF Photo, 24 Oct 1990)

Lockheed VC-121A Constellation (Serial No. 48-0610), Reg. No. TBC, "Columbine II". This aircraft was once the presidential transport for Dwight D. Eisenhower in the early 1950s. It was later replaced by VC-121E Super Constellation (Serial No. 53-7885), "Columbine III", now with the National Museum of the USAF at Dayton, Ohio in 1954. "Columbine II" was used as a VIP transport until it was retired from the USAF in 1968. Work is underway to restore this aircraft to flight status. (Karl Stoltzlus of Dynamic Aviation)

(Sneakin Deacon Photo)

Bell AH-1 Cobra helicopter (Serial No. 0-15299), Veteran's Memorial.

Chantilly, Washington Dulles International Airport , National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center . There are more than 400 aircraft in the collection of the NASM, and of these, at least 65 are displayed in the NASM main building on the Washington, D.C., Mall. More than 200 are located in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center. 20 or more (numbers vary) are stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, Tucson, Arizona (AMARC). To keep the web pages from crashing, aircraft on display in the NASM on the Mall Washington, D.C. are listed on a separate web page on this site. Aircraft in the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center are also listed on a separate page on this website.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 51-9119).

Dahlgren, Naval Surface Warfare Center, Dahlgren Division, 17320 Dahlgren Road, 22448. Located 23 miles from Fredericksburg, Dahlgren Division also houses Naval Space Command, AEGIS Training and Readiness Center, and Joint Warfare Analysis Center.

(Dark Friday Photo)

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 159567), C/N I556. Photo taken while this aircraft was in service at Naval Air Test Center Patuxent River NATC-567, 15 May 1979.

(Tom Tessier Photo)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 159841). Photo taken while this aircraft was still in service.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 57-0703).

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 57-0761).

NATC Hornet used in the flight test program for the type. This aircraft was transferred to the CAF as a training aid. It has since been repainted in CAF colours with serial 188778. It is now stored at CFB Trenton.

McDonnell Douglas YF-18A Hornet (BuNo. 161527).

McDonnell Douglas YF-18A Hornet (BuNo. 162458).

These aircraft are similar to the NATC Hornet shown below that was used in the flight test program for the F-18. This aircraft was transferred to the RCAF for use as a training aid. It has since been repainted in RCAF colours (Serial No. 188778), and is now stored at CFB Trenton, Ontario.

(Alain Rioux Photo)

Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Fort Eustis), United States Army Transportation Museum, 300 Washington Blvd, Besson Hall, 23604-5260.

(Curtiss-Wright Photos)

(WQ59B Photo)

Curtiss-Wright Model 2500 Air Car GEM-2X ground-effect machine.

(USAF Photos)

Avro Canada VZ-9 Avrocar Mk. II (Serial No. 59-4975). Out for restoration.

(US Army Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

Beechcraft U-8D Seminole (Serial No. 58-3051).

(US Army Photo)

Bell UH-13 Sioux helicopter, US Army, ca 1950s.

(SWAG Photo)

Bell H-13E Sioux (Serial No. 51-14010). On exhibit inside the museum.

(SWAG Photo)

Bell UH-A Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 59-1616), front fuselage.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

Bell UH-1B Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 56-6723). Painted International Orange, part of the Aviation Detachment to Antarctica.

(SWAG Photo)

Bell UH-1H Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 64-13644), 44D.

(SWAG Photo)

Bell UH-H Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 74-22376).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Bell 533 High Performance Helicopter, located on base separate from the museum.

(Bell Aerospace Photo)

Bell Rocket Jet Pack (Individual Lift Device). May not be on display.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Boeing CH-46A Chinook Helicopter (Serial No. 59-4984). Oldest surviving Chinook.

(SWAG Photo)

Cessna L-19A/O-1 Bird Dog (Serial No. 51-12745).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

de Havilland Canada U-6A Beaver (Serial No. 58-1997).

(SWAG Photo)

de Havilland Canada DHC-3/U-1A Otter (Serial No. 55-3270), C/N 116.

(William Grimes Photo)

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(Author Photo)

de Havilland Canada YC-7A Caribou (Serial No. 57-3079), C/N 5, Golden Knights colours.

(US Army Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

de Lacker HZ-1 Aerocycle (YHO-2), DH-4 Heli-Vector one-man flying platform. Not on exhibit at this time.

(US Army Photos)

(SWAG Photo)

Doak VZ-4 (Serial No. 56-9642), VTOL research aircraft.

(SWAG Photo)

Hiller H-23B Raven (Serial No. 51-16168). Painted as 111-11.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

Hughes TH-55A Osage (Serial No. 67-16944). Painted trainee orange.

Hughes YAH-64 Apache (Serial No. 73-22248). Transferred to Fort Rucker.

Lockheed AH-56A Cheyenne (Serial No. 66-8832). Transferred to Fort Rucker.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Piasecki Vertol H-21C Shawnee (Serial No. 56-2077).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

Piasecki HUP-2 Retriever/UH-25 Mule (Serial No. 130043).

Piasecki VZ-8P1 Flying Jeep (Serial No. 58-5510). Model 59K Sky Car. Transferred to the American Aviation Museum.

( San Diego Air & Space Museum Photo)

Piasecki AIRGEEP II (Army), first flight on 15 Feb 1962.

(SWAG Photo)

Piasecki VZ-8P-B Airgeep II (Serial No. 58-5511).

(SWAG Photo)

Sikorsky H-19D Chickasaw (Serial No. 56-1550).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Sikorsky VH-34C Choctaw (Serial No. 57-1725).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(SWAG Photo)

Sikorsky CH-37B Mojave (Serial No. 57-1651).

(US Army Photo)

Sikorsky YCH-54A Tarhe helicopter (Serial No. 64-14202) in the 1960s. This helicopter was lost in Vietnam on 9 August 1966.

(Mytwocents Photo)

(Author Photos)

Sikorsky YCH-54A Tarhe (Serial No. 64-14203), C/N 64-005.

(Rich Tregear Photo)

(Dave Gorman Photo)

North American F-86H Sabre (Serial No. 52-2044), C/N 183-70, “Howdy Doody”, 167 th TFS, WV ANG.

Avro 504 (Serial Number A201). This biplane was an Imperial gift aircraft to New Zealand after the First World War. It is a sister ship to Peter Jackson’s Avro 504 (Serial No. A202). A201 is being restored by John Gaertner, Blue Swallow Aircraft, LLC.

Hampton, Air Power Park and Museum, 413 W. Mercury Blvd, VA 23666-4313. Off Hwy 64 West.

Aero L-39 Albatross, Reg. No. N555K.

Cessna O-2A Skymaster (Serial No. 68-6885).

Curtiss P-40 Kittyhawk I (Serial No.).

Eastern (GM) TBM-3E Avenger (BuNo. 85886).

(Author Photos)

Hawker Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel (Serial No. 64-18267), P.1127. NASA 520.

Hughes OH-6A Osage (Serial No. 67-1694).

(Author Photo)

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 51-9086), C/N 580-6870.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 52-0734), TBC.

Lockheed F-104C Starfighter (Serial No.), TBC.

(Author Photo)

LTV A-7E Corsair II (BuNo. 157506), AC 300, C/N E-162. USN.

(Author Photos)

McDonnell TF-101F Voodoo (Serial No. 56-0246), C/N 211.

(Author Photo)

McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II (Serial No. 69-0372), ZZ, C/N 3906.

(RadioFan Photo)

Mercury Little Joe Rocket Booster.

Nike Surface-to Air Missile (SAM).

(Author Photos)

North American F-86L Sabre Dog (Serial No. 51-3064), C/N 177-121. D Model converted to L Model, 37 th FIS, 14 th FIW. On display since 1962.

(Author Photos)

North American F-100D Super Sabre (Serial No. 54-2145), C/N 223-25.

(William Grimes Photo)

(Author Photos)

Northrop F-89J Scorpion (Serial No. 52-2129), FV-129, C/N N4541. Former F-89D.

Piasecki Vertol CH-21C-PH Shawnee (Serial No. 56-2146).

(Author Photo)

Republic F-105D Thunderchief (Serial No. 61-0073), F-105D-15-RE, ME, standing on short concrete pylons.

Sikorsky H-19D Chickasaw (Serial No. 56-1522).

Hampton, Joint Base Langley-Eustis (Langley Air Force Base), 23665-5548. Located three miles north of Hampton, Langley AFB is home to Air Combat Command, 1 st Fighter Wing, 10 th Intelligence Squadron, and Air Force Doctrine Center, Det 1.

(Author Photo)

Boeing B-52G Stratofortress (Serial No. 59-2601), C/N 464364, mounted on pylons.

Fairchild Republic YA-10A Thunderbolt II (Serial No. 71-1370).

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

(Author Photo)

General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon (Serial No. 78-0001), LF, C/N 61-7, mounted on a pylon.

McDonnell Douglas F-4N Phantom II (BuNo. 151510), NF-100, C/N 700, AJ, VF-161, mounted on a pylon.

(Author Photo)

McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle (Serial No. 71-0281), C/N 2/A002, mounted on a pylon.

(Author Photos)

North American F-86H Sabre (Serial No. 52-5747), painted as (Serial No. 53-1483), mounted on a pylon.

(Author Photos)

Republic F-105D Thunderchief (Serial No. 61-0217), mounted on a pylon.

Hampton, Virginia Air and Space Center, 600 Settlers Landing Road, 23669-4033.

American AA-1, Reg. No. N501NA.

(Author Photos)

Bell P-39Q Airacobra (Serial No. 42-20027).

Bell UH-1M Iroquois Helicopter (Serial No. 69-6648).

(Author Photos)

Boeing Stearman Model 75 Kaydet (Serial No. 07481), Reg. No. N2S3.

(Author Photos)

Consolidated B-24 Liberator, nose section (Serial No.), "Grumpy".

(Author Photo)

Convair F-106B Delta Dart (Serial No. 57-2516), Reg. No. N816NA.

Douglas DC-9-32, Reg. No. N803AT.

(Author Photos)

General Dynamics YF-16A Fighting Falcon (Serial No. 72-01567).

General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon cockpit (Serial No.).

Grumman A-6 Intruder (BuNo. 152941).

(Author Photo)

Hawker Siddeley XV-6A Kestrel (Serial No. 64-18266), NASA 5.

Lockheed F-104C Starfighter (Serial No. 57-0916), painted as (Serial No. 67-0917.

McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II (Serial No. 67-0392), JJ, C/N 3301.

(Author Photo)

McDonnell Douglas F-18 Hornet (BuNo. 160780), C/N 0006/A006, Reg. No. NASA 840, High Alpha Research Vehicle (HARV) (4/03).

Piper J-3 Cub, Reg. No. N6003H.

Pitts S-1S, not registered (Serial No.).

(Author Photos)

Republic F-84F Thunderstreak (Serial No. 51-1786), FS-786, suspended from the ceiling.

Rutan Vari-Eze, not registered (Serial No.).

Schleicher ASW12AS-W12, Reg. No. N491V.

Wright 1903 Flyer, full-scale reproduction.

(CIA Photo)

Lockheed A-12 Oxcart (Serial No. 60-6931). Central Intelligence Agency HQ. This is the 8th aircraft of 15 A-12s built.

Manassas, Commemorative Air Force, National Capitol Squadron.

Piper L-5 Sentinel "Grasshopper" (Serial No.). (2)

(Bill Larkins Photo)

Vought F4U-7 Corsair (BuNo. 133710), Heritage Aircraft LCC. Being converted into an F4AU-1. Similar to the F4U-7 shown above.

Melfa, Accomack County Airport.

(Hector Vazquez Photo)

McDonnell-Douglas A-4F Skyhawk (BuNo. 155036), AF-00, C/N 13852.

Newport News, The Virginia War Museum, 9285 Warwick Blvd, Huntington Park, 23607.

(USCG Photo)

Sikorsky HH-52A Seaguard (Serial No. unknown)

Norfolk Naval Air Station, Eugene Ely Air Park.

(Author Photo)

Boeing Vertol HH-46D Sea Knight (BuNo. 151953), BR 39, C/N 2103. NAS Norfolk Memorial Park.

(NMNA Photo)

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 152923) from Attack Squadron 35 Black Panthers at Naval Air Station Moffett Field, California, in 1975. VA-35 was assigned to Carreir Air Wing 8 (CVW-8) aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68). This aircraft is today on display at the Naval Air Station Norfolk, Virginia.

(Author Photos)

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 152923), AA-501, 500, C/N I-227. NAS Norfolk Memorial Park

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 161093). Training hulk.

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 162211). Training hulk.

Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo. 162212). Training hulk.

Grumman E-2B Hawkeye (BuNo. 152483).

(Author Photos)

Grumman E-2B Hawkeye (BuNo. 150541), AJ-600, C/N 21, mounted on pylons. NAS Norfolk Memorial Park.

Grumman E-2C Hawkeye (BuNo. 159105). Training hulk.

Grumman E-2C Hawkeye (BuNo. 159107). Training hulk.

Grumman E-2C Hawkeye (BuNo. 160007). Training hulk.

(Author Photos)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 159445), AA 103, C/N 111. NAS Norfolk Memorial Park

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 159107). Training hulk.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 159874). Training hulk.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 160007). Training hulk.

(Author Photos)

Kaman SH-2F Sea Sprite (BuNo. 149026), C/N 30, NAS Norfolk Memorial Park.

McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier (BuNo. 161399). Training hulk.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet (BuNo. 163437), in front of the Headquarters Building.

Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallion (BuNo. 153729).

(Author Photos)

Sikorsky RH-53D Sea Stallion (BuNo. 158692), NW-601, C/N 65-365, NAS Norfolk Memorial Park.

(Author Photos)

Sikorsky SH-3H Sea King (BuNo. 148042), HU 728, C/N 61020. NAS Norfolk Memorial Park.

Norfolk, Nauticus Maritime Museum. One Waterside Drive, 23510.

(Author Photos)

Douglas A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 150058), 1, C/N 13111. Preserved on the roof of the Museum.

(Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Teresa J. Donnelly, USN Photo)

Battleship USS Wisconsin, (BB 64), on the Elizabeth River alongside the Nauticus Museum.

Norfolk, Little Creek Naval Amphibious Base, 2600 Tarawa Court, 23521-3229.

Boeing Vertol CH-46 Sea Knight (BuNo. 1953), 39.

Portsmouth, Norfolk Naval Shipyard, 23709-5000.

Polaris Missile. Naval Shipyard Museum.

Roanoke, Virginia Museum of Transportation.

Grumman F9F-8P Cougar (BuNo.).

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 53-5386).

Piasecki UH-25B Retriever (Serial No.).

Richmond, Defense Supply Center.

(DSCR Photo)

Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II (Serial No. unknown).

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 159853).

McDonnell Douglas F-15A Eagle (Serial No. 71-0283).

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (BuNo. 163119).

(Chris Braeme Photo)

Republic F-84F Thunderstreak (Serial No. 52-6634), mounted on a pylon.

Richmond, Science Museum of Virginia, 2500 West Broad Street.

(B. Dube Photo)

(David Broad Photo)

Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird (Serial No. 61-7968), C/N 2019. 1966. On loan from the National Museum of the USAF.

Richmond, Virginia Air National Guard, 192 nd FG, Richmond International Airport, Byrd Field, 23150-2526.

Republic F-84F Thunderstreak (Serial No. 52-8837), mounted on a pylon at the old ANG gate at the airport.

Republic F-105D Thunderchief (Serial No. 61-0050), C/N D245. Mounted on a pylon at the old ANG gate at the airport.

LTV A-7D Corsair II (Serial No. 72-0192), VA, C/N D-314, standing in front of the old ANG gate at the airport.

Fredericksburg, Shannon Air Museum, Shannon Airport, 3380 Shannon Airport Circle.

(Most of the aircraft here were previously on display at the Richmond, Virginia Aviation Museum)

(RuthAS Photo)

Aeronca C-2N Collegian/Razorback, C/N A151, Reg. No. N11417. 1932.

Aeronca C-3, C/N 426, Reg. No. NC14640. 1935.

Bellanca CH-400 Skyrocket, 140, C/N 187, Reg. No. NX237. 1928. Restored from the remains of a CH-300 Pacemaker.

Bruner Winkle BK Bird, C/N 2025. 1929.

Bücker Bü-133-C Jungmeister, C/N 251, Reg. No. N133BU. 1941.

Curtiss-Robertson J-1D Robin, C/N 773, Reg. No. NC542N. 1929.

Curtiss-Wright Speedwing A-14D, Reg. No. N12323. 1936. Only known survivor.

Curtiss JN4-D Jenny, C/N 450, Signal Corps (Serial No. 2975). 1918.

Douglas A-4C Skyhawk (BuNo. 148543), NP, 8442, C/N 12736.

Ercoupe 415-D, C/N 1766, Reg. No. N99143. 1946.

Fairchild 24-G, C/N 2983, Reg. No. NC19123. 1937.

Fairchild FC-2W2, CN 140, Reg. No. NX8006. 1927, "Stars and Stripes". On loan from the National Air and Space Museum.

Fleet Model 1, C/N 347, Reg. No. N766V. 1930. Painted as USAAC Fleet YPT-6.

Ford 4-AT-A Tri-motor, Reg. No. NC9612.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Grumman F-14D Tomcat (BuNo. 164346), AJ-110, C/N 621/D-26. VF-31, USS Theodore Roosevelt. On loan from the National Museum of Naval Aviation. Last Tomcat to operationally trap aboard a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier.

Heath Super Parasol, C/N 31919, Reg. No. N1926. 1928.

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

LTV A-7D Corsair II (Serial No. 70-0966), VA, C/N D-112. 192 nd Tactical Fighter Wing, Virginia ANG. On loan from the National Museum of the USAF.

Monocoupe 110 Special, Reg. No. N36Y.

Pietenpohl Air Camper and Sky Scout, C/N 410, Reg. No. N9040N. 1928.

Piper J-3 Cub, C/N 14812, Reg. No. N42535. 1943.

(Bald Eagle Photo)

Pitcairn PA-5 Mailwing, C/N 9, Reg. No. NC3835. 1927. Eastern Air Transport colours. On loan from the Science Museum of Virginia.

Quickie 200 Tri-Gear, C/N 2725, Reg. No. N200XQ. 1988.

(Ross Catrow Photo)

(Bald Eagle Photo)

SPAD S.VII (Serial No. B9913). Built in 1917, one of 19 British-built fighters sent to the USA in 1918.

(RuthAS Photo)

Standard E-1 (Serial No. B-123). 1918.

Stinson SR-10G Reliant, C/N 5903, Reg. No. NC21135. 1937. This aircraft served with the USAAF as a Stinson UC-81 Reliant. On loan from the Science Museum of Virginia.

Taylorcraft E-2 Cub, C/N 33, Reg. No. NC12628. 1932. Suspended from the ceiling.

Travel Air 2000, C/N 721, `Old Elephant Ears`, Reg. No. NC6282. 1927.

(RuthAS Photo)

Vultee V-1AD Special, C/N 25, Reg. No. NC16099. 1936. "Lady Peace II". Only known survivor.

(NiD.29 Photo)

Waco YOC, C/N 4279, Reg. No. NC17740. 1935. On loan from the Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society.

Wright Brothers 1899 Kite, reproduction.

Wright Brothers 1900 Glider, reproduction.

Wright Brothers 1901 Glider, reproduction.

Wright Brothers 1903 Flyer, reproduction.

Grumman F-11A Tiger (BuNo.). Schoolyard.

North American F-86H Sabre (Serial No. 52-2005). Town center.

Tappahannock, Airport.

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star (Serial No. 51-6690). Virginia ANG.

Triangle, National Museum of the Marine Corps, 18900 Jefferson Davis Highway, MCB Triangle, 22134-5002.

Beech UC-45J Expeditor (BuNo. 90536).

Beech UC-45J Expeditor (BuNo. 51178).

Bell OH-13/HTL-4 Sioux (BuNo. 128635). Air Ambulance.

Bell HTL-7/TH-13N Sioux (BuNo. 145840).

Bell UH-1E Iroquois (BuNo. 154760), inside the NMMC.

Bell AH-1J Sea Cobra (BuNo. 159212).

Boeing FB-5 Model 55 Hawk (Serial No. A-7114)

Boeing Stearman N2S-3 Kaydet (Serial No. 07481)

Boeing Vertol CH-46D Sea Knight (BuNo. 153986), C/N 2337, inside the NMMC.

Convair OY-1 Sentinel (Serial No. 12054)

Curtiss A-2 Pusher (Serial No.)

Curtiss JN-4HG-1 Jenny (Serial No. A4160).

Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk (Serial No.)

De Havilland DH-4 (Serial No.)

Douglas C-47/R4D-6 Skytrain (Serial No. 17278)

Douglas A24B Banshee (Serial No. 42-54582). 42-60817.

Douglas SBD-3 Dauntless (BuNo. 6583), restoration project.

(NMUSMC Photo)

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless (BuNo. 54605)

Douglas AD-4B Skyraider (BuNo. 132261)

Douglas EF-10B Skyknight (BuNo. 124618), TN, C/N 7488.

Douglas F-5A/F4D-1 Skyray (BuNo. 139177)

Douglas A-4A Skyhawk (BuNo. 142226)

Eastern (GM) TBM-3 Avenger (BuNo. 85890)

Goodyear FG-1A Corsair (BuNo. 13459), 86, suspended from the ceiling inside the NMMC, above Vought F4U-4 Corsair (BuNo. 97369).

Goodyear FG-1D Corsair (BuNo. 13458), painted as (BuNo. 13486), Reg. No. N448AG?

Goodyear FG-1D Corsair (BuNo. 92023)

Goodyear F2G-1D Corsair (BuNo. 88454)

Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (BuNo. 12114), 2, C/N 3809. Suspended from the ceiling inside the NMMC.

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat (BuNo. 41476)

Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat (BuNo. 94263), on loan to the Cradle of Aviation Museum in New York.

Grumman F6F-5K Hellcat (BuNo. 80141)

Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat (BuNo. 80375)

Grumman F7F-3N Tigercat (BuNo. 80382)

Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat (BuNo. 121707)

Grumman F8F-2 Bearcat (BuNo. 121776)

Grumman F9F-2 Panther (BuNo. 123526)

Grumman F9F-5 Panther (BuNo. 125301)

Grumman F-11A Tiger (BuNo. 141872)

Gyrodyne YRON-1 Rotorcycle (Serial No. 4012)

Hiller OH-23F Raven (Serial No. 62-12509)

Hiller OH-23F Raven (Serial No. 62-12510)

Lockheed C-130 Hercules (Serial No. 161223)

Lockheed A-2 Polaris Missile.

McDonnell F-2D/F2H-4 Banshee (BuNo 127693)

McDonnell FH-1 Phantom I (BuNo. 111768). 456, Reg. No. N4283A.

McDonnell Douglas F-4A Phantom II (BuNo. 143388), C/N 3. Oldest surviving Phantom II.

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet (BuNo. 161970), MG-01, C/N 0187/A148.

(TomandJerry211 Photo)

McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II (BuNo. 161396), C/N 512001/001. On loan from the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, this aircraft is now suspended from the ceiling inside the NMMC.

Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15 Fagot (Serial No. 70007)

Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-21 Fishbed (Serial No.)

North American T-6/SNJ-5 Texan (Serial No. 84962)

North American T-28 Trojan (Serial No.)

North American B-25D Mitchell nose (Serial No. 43-3308)

North American FJ-3 Fury (BuNo. 136119)

Sikorsky HO3S-1/H5F Dragonfly (BuNo. 124344)

Sikorsky HO5S-1 Dragonfly (BuNo.)

( Lance Cpl. Anthony L Ortiz, USMC Photo)

Sikorsky HRS-2 Chickasaw (BuNo. 127828), painted as (BuNo. 127834).

Sikorsky CH-19E/HRS-3 Chickasaw (BuNo. 130252)

(NMUSMC Photo)

Sikorsky VH-34D Seahorse (BuNo. 147161)

Sikorsky CH-53A Sea Stallion (BuNo. 151692)

Stinson L-5 Sentinel (BuNo. 120454)

Thomas-Morse S.4 Scout (Serial No. R66Y)

(Looper5920 Photo)

(Adrian Brooks Photo)

Vought F4U-4 Corsair (BuNo. 97369), C/N 9523. Suspended from the ceiling inside the NMMC.

Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka Model 22 (Serial No. 1-13)

Virginia Beach, Commemorative Air Force, Old Dominion Wing, Hampton Roads Airport.

Boeing Stearman Kaydet (Serial No.).

Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless (BuNo.).

Lockheed C-60A/L-18 Lodestar (Serial No.).

North American AT-6 Texan (Serial No.).

North American SNJ Texan (Serial No.).

North American T-28 Trojan (Serial No.).

Stinson L-5 Sentinel (Serial No.). Project.

Vought F4U-1 Corsair (Serial No.). Project.

Virginia Beach, Military Aviation Museum, 1341 Princess Anne Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23457. Jerry Yagen's Fighter Factory, Tidewater Tech, 240 Municipal Airport Road, Suffolk Municipal Airport, 23434.

To keep the web pages from crashing, aircraft on display in the Military Aviation Museum, Virginia Beach, are listed on a separate page on this website.

Virginia Beach, Oceana NAS Aviation Heritage Park, Oceana NAS, 1750 Tomcat Blvd, 23640-2191. Oceana NAS houses Commander, Carrier Air Wings 1,3,7,8 and 17 Commander, Fighter Wing, Atlantic Fleet Fighter Squadrons 2, 11, 14, 31, 32, 41, 101, 102, 103, 143, 211, and 213 and Fleet Composite Squadron 12.

(Author Photos)

Chance Vought F-8E Crusader (BuNo. 149150), 101, NP-211.

Chance Vought F-8U-1 Crusader (BuNo. 145322).

(Author Photos)

Douglas F-6A/F4D-1 Skyray (BuNo. 134950), AJ-213, 201, C/N 10544, AF/VF 64 Sqn.

(Author Photos)

Grumman F9F-2 Panther (BuNo. 123612). O-401, C/N K-317.

Grumman F9F-8 Panther (BuNo. 123456).

(Author Photos)

Grumman F11F-1 Tiger (BuNo. 141864), 1, C/N 181, Blue Angels No. 1.

(Author Photos)

Grumman KA-6D Intruder (BuNo. 151579), AA-501, C/N I-61.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 157988).

(Author Photos)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 160401), 143. Fleet Area Control and Surveillance Facility Virginia Capes (FACSFAC VACAPES).

(Author Photo)

Grumman F-14A Tomcat (BuNo. 164604), AG-100, 213, C/N 632/D-37. Last F-14 manufactured, assigned to VX-4, later VX-9, at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California during its operational service and used the callsign "Vandy 1".

(Author Photos)

LTV A-7E Corsair II (BuNo. 158662), AC-301, 300, C/N E-288.

(Author Photos)

McDonnell F2H-4 Banshee (BuNo. 127693), AD-601, C/N 327.

(Author Photos)

McDonnell-Douglas A-4E Skyhawk (BuNo. 151186), AF-00, C/N 13356.

(Author Photos)

McDonnell Douglas F-4B Phantom II (BuNo. 148261), AB-200, 101, C/N 33.

McDonnell Douglas F-4H-1 Phantom II (BuNo. 152249), (F-4B-22-MC).

(Hector Vazquez Photo)

McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A Hornet (BuNo. 162454), AC-301, C/N 0304/A249.

(Author Photos)

North American FJ-3 Fury (BuNo. 136008), C/N O-210.

Warrenton, Fauquier Airfield

(USAAF Photo)

Douglas C-47 Skytrains over France, Aug 1944.

Douglas C-47B Skytrain (Serial No. TBC).

Warrenton, The Wright Experience

Curtiss JN-4D Jenny (Serial No. 386), being restored to airworthy condition.

Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930 - History

    Afterwards, Jennys were used mostly as trainers, as it was simply outclassed by European fighters of the time. It became the principal primary trainer for the US and Canadian Army during World War I and was also used by the English and US Navy. About 95% of American and Canadian pilots completed part of their training in a Jenny. By the time the U.S. entered the war in 1917, production of the Jenny had reached the JN-4D model. The D model was built in the greatest numbers and was powered by the Curtiss OX-5 engine.

    The JN-4 Canadian built models, known as the Canuck, introduced the control stick system and was eventually adopted on the USA built JN-4D. Other new features included:

Ailerons on the upper wings only.
Cut-outs on the lower wing to improve visibility.
Six degrees down-thrust of the Curtiss OX-5 engine.

    In 1917, new Jennys were sold to the government for $8,160, but by 1919, reconditioned Jennys purchased from the US Army by Curtiss were selling for $4,000 and OX-5s were selling for $1,000. By the mid 1920s, a rebuilt Canuck had dropped to an average price of $2,400. Towards the end of their careers, Jennys could be bought for as little as $500 among private owners, and by 1928, an unused OX-5 could be purchased for a standard price of $250. With such a glut of surplus military aircraft on the market, it was difficult for manufacturers to compete with the production of new aircraft. 4

    The JN-4H (Model E-1), powered by a 150 hp Wright built Hispano-Suiza was an advanced trainer and was the same model that Charles Lindbergh trained in as an US Army Cadet. 5 With a top speed of 93 mph, the JN-4H was a more powerful aircraft providing higher performance, which made the transition from trainer to fighter less demanding. The JN-4H had a beefed up fuselage and a larger nose radiator. The fuel capacity was increased from 21 to 31 US gallons by installing an additional wing tank in the upper wing center section. 6

    The years after World War I, from 1920 to 1926, is known as the Jenny Era, where hundreds of military pilots, and those who first learned to fly in a Jenny, purchased hundreds of converted US Army Jennys and embarked on a career in Flying Circuses and as Barnstormers, with the JN-4 being the most preferred model. The Jenny, along with the J-1 Standard, was a great platform for wing walking. The maze of struts, a single axle between the wheels, the slow speed and the king-post on the upper wing made it a great platform for wing walking. Without the king-post to hold on to, transferring from one plane to another would have been near impossible.

    The Jenny Era began fading in 1925 as new newer and more efficient aircraft, such as the Curtiss Hawk, came into production. The final death knell for the Jenny came in 1927 when new regulations for airworthiness, maintenance and pilot licensing requirements came into effect. The Jenny was not able to meet the new directives and by 1930, the Jenny was illegal to operate in most parts of the United States. It wasn't until the 1950s when Jennys came back into acceptance with the Vintage Airplane Movement. By 1976, there were only four Jennys in airworthy condition and Jennys now operate under Experimental License status. 7

    The Curtiss N-9 was a seaplane variant of the JN-4B used as a military trainer during the First World War. As a seaplane, the N-9 was equipped with a single central pontoon mounted under the fuselage, along with small floats fitted under each wingtip. Design changes included:

A longer fuselage.
Larger tail surfaces.
A larger wingspan expanded by 10 feet.
Stabilizing fins added to the top of the top wing.

    The N-9 used the Deperdussin control system utilizing a control wheel for the ailerons and a foot-bar for the rudder. The N-9 was initially powered by a 100 hp Curtiss OXX engine. The US Navy was the principal user and ordered a total of 560 N-9s, most of which were N-9H models powered by the 150 hp Wright-Hispano engine.

    Another variant was the Twin JN. It was an enlarged twin-engine version of the JN-4, powered by two opposite rotating OXX-2 engines. Lateral stability was enhanced by increasing the tail area, with the installation of a modified R-4 rudder. It remained a two seat machine, but the observer's seat was moved to the nose of the aircraft. It saw brief service on the Mexican border in 1916. A total of eight aircraft were built.

    Although it had a British foundation, the Curtiss Jenny is considered American as apple pie. It was one of the most famous airplanes produced by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and no other WWI airplane had been built in greater numbers. By the time the war had ended, more than 10,000 Jennys had been delivered. 8

Curtiss JN Jenny
Wing span: 43 ft 7-3/8 in (13.29 m) 43 ft 7-3/8 in (13.29 m)
Length: 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m) 27 ft 4 in (8.33 m)
Height: 9 ft 10-5/8 in (3.01 m) 9 ft 10-5/8 in (3.01 m)
Empty: 1,390 lb (630 kg) 1,625 lb (737 kg)
Gross Weight: 1,920 lb (870 kg) 2,269 lb (1,029 kg)
Maximum Speed: 75 mph (120 km/h) at sea level. 91 mph (146 km/h) at sea level.
Cruise Speed: 60 mph (97 km/h) 75 mph (121 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 6,500 ft (1,981 m) 7,500 ft (2,286 m)
Range: 155 miles (250 km) 155 miles (250 km)
Range: 2 hrs. 15 minutes 2 hrs. 15 minutes
Powerplant: One Curtiss OX-5 V8, 90 hp (67 kW),
water cooled engine.
One Wright-Hispano V8,
150 hp (112 kW),
water cooled engine.
Armament: One fixed Marlin and one or two flexible Lewis machine-guns.

1. Benjamin D. Foulois and C.V. Glines. From the Wrights to the Astronauts, The memoirs of Major General Benjamin D. Foulois New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1968. 120.
2. Herbert M. Mason, Jr. The United States Air Force, A Turbulent History. New York: Mason/Charter, 1976. 25.
3. Louis S. Casey. Curtiss, The Hammondsport Era, 1907 - 1915. New York: Crown Publishers, 1981. 194.
4. Murray Rubenstein & Richard M. Goldman. To Join with Eagles. A complete illustrated history of Curtiss Wright aircraft from
    1903 to 1965
. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc. 1974. 39.
5. Charles A. Lindbergh. We. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1927. 108.
6. Peter M. Bowers. Curtiss Aircraft, 1907 - 1947. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. 159.
7. Ibid. 148.
8. Murray Rubenstein & Richard M. Goldman. 39.

. © Larry Dwyer. The Aviation History Online Museum. All rights reserved.
Created March 30, 2010. November 11, 2013.

Curtiss F-6C4 Re-Cover - Way to Go Mark!

It was hot and dirty work - happy to be done

My friend Mark Julicher of Bulverde, TX has been sen ding updates to his latest project to recover a Curtiss F6C4 aircraft for the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He has graciously allowed me to add his photos here for the followers of Barnstmr's Random Aeronautics to enjoy.

Here are some of his reports below. I will add more as he nears completion of this wonderful airplane.

AUGUST 17, 2010

It is traditional when school restarts to write an essay titled, "How I spent my Summer". Here is a short picture essay of how I spent my summer. Please enjoy my small indulgence here.

This plane is slated to hang in the National Museum of the Marine Corps when they complete the new aircraft gallery. It is a Curtiss Hawk originally flown in 1928, 98% of this one has been rebuilt - my task was to apply new fabric and dope which I accomplished at a facility in San Antonio, Texas. The plane will be re-assembled for final inspection in the next few weeks and then shipped overland to Virginia.

The structure is an amazing combination of construction techniques including riveting, welding, wood & glue, wire bracing, sheet metal and of course fabric. The fabric process here is Ceconite with Randolph dope. The engine is a P ratt & Whitney 1340 rated at 650 horsepower. Save for the magnetos, there is no electrical system. The plane was aircraft carrier qualified which is amazing in itself, although the landing approach speed was probably only 60 knots which would make for a quick stop with any kind of wind over the deck. Armament is one .30 cal and one .50 cal directly in front of the pilot and firing through the propeller arc via a synchronizer. I imagine the pilots were mostly deaf after firing a few rounds!

The upper wing required 28 yards of fabric sewn into five panels for the top side and five for the bottom. I counted 1070 rib laces - give or take a few. It took four days to rib lace the upper wing plus a day each to rib lace each lower wing. There is one gallon of dope for each coat on the upper wing and there are 13 coats on it.
I shall complete the fabric work on Tuesday August 17 and then a local artist will paint the Eagle-Globe&Anchor insignia plus a few last minute touches on the fuselage. As a final step the plane will be assembled for a good looking over before it it crated and shipped.

Click on Images to Enlarge Photo

Upper wing ready to cover

Tail feathers in the spray booth

Vertical stabilizer awaiting squadron insignia

Lower left wing being taped

Upper wing top side - complete. 46 inch diameter national insignia, 26 inch high letters

Pilot seat. The perforated bins are ammo cans. Red knob is a manual fuel pump for the aux tank.

Fabric starts out saggy-baggy

Fuselage ready for tapes and dope - engine being assembled

Mark says, "Yes I sat in the cockpit and it IS way cool!"

Fuselage getting silver dope.

Random Correspondence from Mark

MAY 3, 2010
Buell and Terry,
Have either of you ever covered a wing that uses a wire trailing edge?
If so, is there anything special I need to know about how to do it? It appears that I will get a contract to cover this F6C-4, and the wings have wire trailing edges. I have the original fabric to look at (already removed) and there are probably some clues there, but any pointers I can get would be appreciated.
Perhaps I need to go discuss this with Roger Freeman? I don't know, but you guys are the restorers I trust most in these parts so I thought I would first ask you two.
Mark Julicher
MAY 4, 2010

June 02, 2010

Prior to dis-assembly
31 foot span
2000 rib stitches on 2 1/2 inch centers in the top wing alone.
According to the owner, it is a replica, but that is sure enough a legitimate data plate. And no, it is never going to fly.

The Curtiss F-6C4 was flown by the USMC. This remaining example belongs to the National Museum of the Marine Corps. The technology is fascinating.

Here are two photos taken during the restoration so far. One is an example of a lace-in panel frame. New boot hooks will be swaged onto this frame after a 4 inch fabric tape is applied - thereby capturing the fabric under the hooks. We are purchasing boot hook swages that mount in an arbor press to do this task.

Next photo is how I covered the wire trailing edges of the lower wings. Per advice from Jim and Dondi Miller, I could have done an overlapped glue joint over the wire, but I decided to go in keeping with the original fabric. I had to dissect some old linen to figure out the secret of covering the wire. I'm happy to say the zillion stitches held perfectly when the iron hit the fabric.

More on the Doped -In /Lace-up Inspection Panel
- Pay Attention Curtiss Robin Restorers!-

When Mark first began the process of restoring the F6C-4, we had some interesting dialog floating around via email on just how to accomplish this type of Doped-In Lace-Up Inspection panel. Here is the string of emails.


From: [email protected]>
June 3, 2010 9:23:02 PM CDT
To: andrew [email protected]>
Subject: Re: Help with Lace Panel
Andrew,Many thanks for the reply. I went through the same thought processes, but none of the proffered solutions appear to be correct. Allow me to share some photos of this project and discuss each in turn. At least that way you will have as much to go on as I do. Beg your pardon if I overwhelm your e-mail.
First let me say that this plane is a replica built in the mid 1970s, even though it has an original 1928 data plate. (that could start a donnybrook all by itself, but I digress). I am guessing the build-date based on some date stamps on wood in the wings. Furthermore, much of the AN hardware in not from the 1920s.
Second, the lace-in panels in this plane are a work of art. Someone far more clever than myself built this jewel. If I can capture enough photos etc, I feel a how-to magazine article coming on.

Photo One is the project before it was disassembled and moved to the shop in San Antonio. Lace-in panels are prominent. I asked the owner (USMC museum) if I could re-use the current panels, but it appears he wants new ones. The workmanship in this plane is phenomenal, and it will take my best effort to cover this to museum quality. BTW, the slipper fuel tank hangs down a few inches because one machine gun's expended brass chute empties straight down.

Photo two is self explanatory. This gem is mounted above the pilot's left shoulder. These planes were mostly based in San Diego. According to various reports, the straight nose F-6's were kept by the Navy, and round engines were the favorite of Marines. The plane was carrier capable.

Photo three is one lace in panel. The 3" fabric tape covers both sides of the panel and it has not been split. That kills the theory of doping on a panel then cutting it out before installing the boot hooks. None-the-less, I still may have to do the job that way because it makes good sense.
HOWEVER this puzzle is really a stumper. read on.

Photo Four. Here I peeled some of the fabric back to see if it went under or around the boot hooks. The old fabric (linen) tears right up to the hooks and I'm convinced it goes under them. Besides, how would you punch perfect little holes in the tape for each hook to protrude through?
So now I'm thinking the frame was doped on and taped. Then the holes were made in the fabric, probably at pre-drilled locations in the frame, and finally the hooks were installed and swaged in place by a tiny A&P who crawled into the fuselage.

Or perhaps the fuselage sides were covered, the lace-in panels were doped to to the fuselage, the hooks swaged on while someone could reach in from below or above, and lastly the turtle deck and belly were covered.

Photo 5. Here is the reverse side of the lace-in panel. The panel frame is elegant. It is one piece of aluminum which has been stop-drilled and then MOSTLY split down the centerline. The inner frame and outer frame are still attached at the corners as shown and also at the center point of each side. This makes a beautifully straight frame with perfectly parallel edges. I am impressed by both the technique and the craftsmanship.

My next step is to contact a boot hook maker and find out what sorts of tools could be used to set the hooks. This might offer a clue, especially if there is some sort of two piece tool using a set and a buck. Many thanks for your ideas.
Mark Julicher

On Jun 3, 2010, at 8:03 AM, andrew king wrote:
I think that the answer might be that they installed the inspection opening framework in the fabric before they covered the fuselage. In '28 they would have been using an envelope with sewed seams on the longerons, so they would have been able to place inspection openings where they wanted them. I've seen original Jenny fabric that had the metal grommet drain openings in the wing installed with no patch, that must've been done before covering, haven't seen an inspection opening done that way, but it's possible. Or perhaps they installed the frame, then cut the fabric from the opening, and then installed the boot hooks reaching the backside through the now open hole. My best guesses.
[email protected]>
Sent: Jun 2, 2010 4:27 PM
To: [email protected]
Subject: FW: Help with Lace Panel
Andrew, I know what he's talking about, but I'm not clear on the actual install. I think you've done this, so would you mind answering him and ccing me on your reply? Thanks! H.G.

-----Original Message-----
From: Mark Julicher [mailto:[email protected]]
Sent: Tuesday, June 01, 2010 7:52 PM
To: vintage
Subject: Help with Lace Panel
I am trying to locate ideas on how to fabricate a lace-on inspection panel. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Mark Julicher, EAA 605278, also a member of NAFI and a technical counselor and flight advisor, and I have rebuilt several aircraft, mostly fabric. But I'm stumped.
I am replacing the fabric on a 1928 biplane that uses lace-on inspection panels. It is easy to figure out how to build the aluminum framework, but after that it gets dicey. It appears that the framework is applied to the fuselage in the usual manner with dope and fabric, but the boot-lace hooks on the original framework were installed AFTER the framework was doped and taped on. Boot lace hooks are swaged on, so how was that done without access to the back of the panel?
I am in the process of contacting boot hook makers to see how these are swaged on Perhaps I'm barking up the wrong tree and the solution is just dirt simple. ??

So my question is, is there WW I or 1920's expert I might speak to about how this process is done? Or is this a lost art and I'm on my own?? Any help would be appreciated.
Best regards,
Mark Julicher

US P-12 and F-6C4 aircraft in formation flight at Cleveland National air race in Ohio.
Cleveland National air races in Cleveland, Ohio. A formation of 18 US Navy Curtis F-6C4 aircraft in flight at the air race. 18 bi winged aircraft in flight in three rows of six planes each. Another formation of 18 bi winged aircraft in flight. Bi winged aircraft in flight. Three US Army Air Corps P-12 aircraft execute an inside loop while in flight. A large crowd gathered to watch the air race show. A P-12 aircraft executes a barrel roll. A bi winged civilian aircraft executes several 180 degree loops and flies upside down. A parachute descends as a pilot of an aircraft lands in parking lot. Aircraft crashes into the ground. A bi winged aircraft flies low over the ground and then pulls up.

US Government Archive number for this historic video is: 342 USAF 23961 (DBVT)

Perfect Trap: The Godfather of Naval Aviation

Frederick M. Trapnell, who flew nearly every airplane in the U.S. Navy fleet during his career, sits in the cockpit of a Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk.

The remarkable career of naval aviation pioneer Frederick “Trap” Trapnell encompassed biplanes, airships, World War II fighters, research planes and early carrier jets.

Today every U.S. naval aviator who straps into an aircraft cockpit owes a debt to a man they never met and few have even heard of, Vice Admiral Frederick M. Trapnell, the “godfather of modern naval aviation.” Every fighter, attack aircraft, troop carrier, transport, helicopter and aerial surveillance plane in the Navy inventory for the last 65 years has been tested, evaluated and improved by the dedicated graduates of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland. There, hundreds of men and women are the direct inheritors of the legacy that Trapnell began when he first pinned on his wings of gold in 1927.

Born in July 1902, Trapnell displayed a love of the sea and ships at an early age. An appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis honed his gift for engineering, a trait that served him well all his life. There he gained the nickname by which he was forever known, “Trap.” His good looks, winning personality and humility made him popular. Serving on battleships and cruisers after his graduation in 1923, the young officer earned the respect of the enlisted men through his willingness to work alongside them and get his hands dirty.

Fascinated by the Navy’s early scout biplanes, Trapnell applied for aviation training at NAS Pensacola in Florida. He displayed a natural ability as a pilot and took great pains to familiarize himself with every airplane he flew. When he earned his wings in March 1927, Trapnell was unknowingly situated on the threshold of the most dynamic generation in aviation history.

In 1930 Trapnell (right) and fellow naval aviators (from left) Lieutenant Aaron Storr and Lt. Cmdr. Matthias Gardner formed a demonstration team flying Curtiss F6C-4s. (©Frederick M. Trapnell)

Lieutenant Trapnell was assigned to the pioneering Torpedo Squadron 1 of the newly commissioned aircraft carrier Lexington, flying the three-seater Martin T3M biplane, the Navy’s first torpedo bomber. In 1928 Lexington joined the fleet exercises off Hawaii, where Trapnell began to fly and evaluate the current crop of bombers. He then joined the Navy’s first officially designated fighter squadron, VB-1 (later VF-5). The “Red Rippers” would become the longest-serving fighter squadron in the Navy. They flew the nimble and rakish Curtiss F6C Hawk, a carrier-capable variant of the Army’s P-1 Hawk. Trapnell loved the agile biplane.

Under the tutelage of fellow pilot and friend Lt. Cmdr. Matthias Gardner, Trapnell practiced the new doctrine of coordinated air attacks with dive bombers, torpedo planes and fighters. Still, he had to prove his skills as a wingman with a more experienced leader, Lieutenant Jimmy Barner. Virtually every “nugget” pilot required several sessions to become proficient at close-quarters maneuvering and aerobatics. But when Trapnell landed at NAS San Diego after his first trial and awaited his written evaluation, Barner simply shook his hand and said, “I’m glad to welcome you aboard.”

In early 1929 the Pacific Fleet conducted extensive exercises in the Panama Canal Zone, recognized as a prime target for any oceangoing belligerent power. Trapnell and the other Rippers flew almost daily, fine-tuning tactics that would shape the Navy’s future. He flew the new Boeing F4B from August to December of that year. During a test flight over Kearny Mesa north of San Diego, he joined the “Caterpillar Club”—the elite fraternity of pilots who had to parachute in an emergency—when an F4B’s fuel line caught fire and he bailed out. Unhurt, he landed near the burning biplane and kept the ripcord “D” ring as proof of his new membership.

Trapnell (right) holds the ripcord D-ring from his parachute after bailing out of a burning Boeing F4B near San Diego in November 1929. (©Frederick M. Trapnell Jr.)

In those early days a manufacturer rarely provided detailed information on a particular airplane’s performance envelope, so it was up to the Navy to assess its strengths and weaknesses. Assigned to fly recently repaired planes or new models, Trapnell displayed an uncanny knack for recognizing flaws in an aircraft’s design and making astute recommendations to remedy the problems. This would be a recurring theme throughout his career.

In December 1929 Lieutenant Barner had Trapnell assigned to the Navy’s Flight Test Section at NAS Anacostia in Washington, D.C. It was there that Trapnell found his true calling. His clear and concise notes and performance data stemmed directly from his work on hydrodynamics at Annapolis. He was able to fly every single plane on the field, greatly adding to his personal understanding of what qualities the best fighters and bombers possessed.

“Trapnell was the sharpest student of aerodynamics and flight testing that we had,” wrote fellow test pilot Robert Pine. “I believe he is the best pilot and probably the best test pilot I have ever been associated with.”

In the early 1930s the Navy, particularly Bureau of Aeronautics chief Rear Adm. William Moffett, was dedicated to the dirigible for long-range fleet reconnaissance. In 1931 Akron, the world’s most advanced airship, was nearing completion at the Goodyear-Zeppelin hangar in Akron, Ohio. Akron was designed to carry small biplane fighters in an enclosed bay in the ship’s belly. Trapnell evaluated the tiny Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk, working with Akron’s Heavier-Than-Air (HTA) unit to develop procedures and tactics to make the vulnerable airship into a long-range scout aircraft carrier.

A complicated trapeze system lowered the Sparrowhawk into the airstream, from which the pilot would then release and fly off on his scouting or defensive mission. Disengaging from and hooking onto the trapeze required deft control and could only be accomplished under ideal weather conditions. When Akron was commissioned in late 1931, the trapeze system was still seriously flawed. Trapnell designed a simpler and more automated system that stabilized the fighter without the pilot having to do it manually. The new system was successful, and in a few months Akron and sister ship Macon were ready.

But there was still some controversy as to how the massive airships should be employed in warfare. “A few of the ship’s officers and I of the enlightened heads at BuAer [Bureau of Aeronautics] thought the airship should hang back at the [sight of the] enemy and let her airplanes do the scouting,” said Trapnell.

In any case, the airships’ moment in the sun would be brief. On April 3, 1933, Rear Adm. Moffett was on board Akron for a demonstration flight off the mid-Atlantic coast in which three Sparrowhawks were to fly out and hook up. Trapnell was tasked with flying Akron’s two-seater “running boat” from NAS Lakehurst in New Jer­sey to the airship as a ferry plane for the admiral. But the weather closed in and he had to wait for takeoff clearance. As the hours passed the weather off the Jersey coast turned vicious, and Trapnell became worried. Many of the 76 men on board the airship were his friends.

As dawn broke the following day the cruel truth emerged: Akron had crashed at sea, killing Moffett and all but three of his crew. At the time it was the worst air disaster in history. Trapnell had come within a whisker of being on board when Akron took its fatal plunge into the stormy Atlantic.

Named head of the HTA unit, Trapnell worked on Macon out of NAS Moffett Field in Sunnyvale, Calif. After the Akron disaster, the pressure was on to validate what proved to be a flawed concept. In 1935 Macon crashed, ending the Navy’s experiment with giant airships. By then the Consolidated P2Y, the first successful long-range flying boat, was proving capable of doing the airships’ job of patrolling the seas, with far less vulnerability.

In 1936 Trapnell was assigned to VP-10 in Hawaii, where he helped develop the search and patrol strategies that would serve the Navy well in the years to come. He commanded a successful squadron deployment of new Consolidated PBY Catalinas from California to Hawaii in January 1938, setting a record of 20½ hours for the 2,550-mile flight.

As war clouds loomed, Trapnell was never out of the sky for long. He flew, evaluated and made recommendations for nearly every prototype and production plane in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory. The early torpedo and dive bombers were as much an exercise in theory as in aeronautical technology. The Navy’s Northrop XBT-1 monoplane dive bomber pioneered the use of split dive brakes. It was followed by the Vought SB2U-1 Vindicator, which, like its predecessor, was obsolete by the beginning of World War II. Only when the sturdy Douglas SBD Dauntless took to the skies did America field a truly effective dive bomber for carrier warfare.

After the smoke cleared over the shattered battle fleet at Pearl Harbor in December 1941, it was obvious that the outcome of the Pacific War hinged heavily on aircraft carriers. At Anacostia, Trapnell was eager to get into combat but the Navy thought his engineering skills and experience were too valuable to lose. Working 12-hour days six and seven days a week, he strove to perfect the Navy’s next generation of warplanes.

Every new design had to be tested and wrung out to learn its strengths and weaknesses. Trapnell flew them all, including the Grumman F4F Wild­cat and Brewster F2A Buffalo fighters. But it was with the radical and tricky Vought F4U Corsair that he really made a significant contribution to the future of Navy fighters.

The Corsair’s inverted gull wings, long nose and powerful engine resulted in some major teething problems. With the project experiencing severe delays and accidents, Trapnell went to the Vought plant in Stratford, Conn., to test the new fighter. He quickly came to appreciate the Corsair’s potential, taking it to 402 mph—making it the fastest production piston-engine fighter in the world at the time. By November he was testing and evaluating the Corsair at Anacostia, helping Vought and the Navy iron out the design of what ultimately became one of the most successful fighters in the Pacific.

By 1940 Trapnell had flown more than 80 different types of aircraft, logging over 3,800 hours in the air. In order to expedite the development of new planes, he proposed that the Navy collaborate in early flight testing with the manufacturers. This was a radical concept but it was the principal reason so many warplanes quickly entered production.

In mid-1942, with the Pacific War in full fury, Trapnell’s skill as a flight test engineer gave him the opportunity to fly the most feared Japanese fighter, the Mitsubishi A6M2 Zero. During the Japa­nese attack on the Aleutians in the June Mid­way campaign, Zero pilot Tadayoshi Koga was forced down into the tundra on Akutan Island. Koga was killed but his Zero was nearly intact. The Navy recovered it and spirited the highly secret plane to San Diego. After being repaired it was turned over to Trapnell, by then a full commander, to assess its capabilities and limitations.

With Trapnell flying a new Corsair and Lt. Cmdr. Eddie Sanders in the Zero, the two pilots dueled off San Diego, soon learning what the Zero could and could not do. They shattered the myth that it could fly rings around anything in the sky and proved that the Zero did have some serious shortcomings, particularly in its high-speed and high-altitude performance. In his report to the Navy Department, Trapnell wrote, “The Zero was faster and had a faster climb rate than the Wild­cat, but was more vulnerable and less maneuverable at high speed.” Their findings and recommendations were quickly sent to fighter and bomber pilots all over the Pacific.

Meanwhile, Trapnell read Pacific combat reports and made recommendations to improve the next generation of fighters, including the Grumman F6F Hellcat. “He came to the factory and flew the prototype F6F,” said Leroy Grumman. “It suited him, as I remember, except for the longitudinal stability—he wanted more of that. We built it in, and rushed into production without a Navy certificate on the model—we relied on Trapnell’s opinion. His test flight took less than three hours. I’m not sure that we ever got an official O.K. on the Hellcat design. I think it finally came through after V-J Day. By that time Hellcats had shot down 5,155 Japanese planes—and that’s over half of the Navy’s total bag for the war.”

Trapnell was still itching to get out to the Paci­fic. In a request for transfer, he wrote, “Urgently desire C.O. of any kind of CV [aircraft carrier]. Get me out of this backwater.”

Trapnell finally made it into the war in the spring of 1944 as executive officer of the escort carrier Breton, which was ferrying planes to the war zone from the West Coast. He earned the Bronze Star for developing a system allowing Hellcats to take off from a carrier deck in just 190 feet, thus increasing the number of planes that could be carried on the small ships.

After participating in the invasion of Saipan, Trapnell was assigned as chief of staff to Rear Adm. Arthur Radford, whom he had known since the 1930s, on the flagship Yorktown in Task Group 38.1. There he played a role in the huge campaigns in the Carolines and later the Philippines. Trapnell witnessed kamikaze attacks and in December survived the fury of Typhoon Cobra, the worst tropical storm of the war. He coordinated every aspect of Yorktown’s air operations, from fuel to ordnance, targets and after-action reports. He gained satisfaction in seeing the planes he and the team at Anacostia had helped mold into effective weapons taking the fight to the Japanese.

After the war, Trapnell returned to the States to continue testing new aircraft. He maintained his belief that “full spectrum testing” within their operational environment was the best way to evaluate new designs. In June 1943 the Flight Test Section had moved from Anacostia to NAS Patuxent River. There the Navy put each new prototype and production plane through rigorous tests of speed, rate of climb, high-altitude performance, maneuverability, carrier suitability and several other criteria. Each plane was evaluated on its armament, electronics and maintenance requirements.

Naval aviation had radically changed in the years since Trapnell had earned his wings. The new jet aircraft promised greater speed and power but also posed a serious challenge for the aircraft carrier fraternity. The entire science of carrier operations needed major refinement for the faster and heavier jets. Flight decks had to be reinforced and new approach, landing and launch procedures developed. The pressure to put jets on carriers in a reasonable schedule reinforced the need for early testing.

Vice Admiral Radford, now deputy chief of naval operations for air, tagged Trapnell to head up the new Naval Air Test Center (NATC) as coordinator. Trapnell would have full creative control of the center, including the selection and training of the new crop of naval test pilots. By February 1947 he had begun a vigorous recruiting campaign to fill out the ranks with the most talented, experienced and educated aviators he could find. The learning curve was hellishly steep, as the early jets proved to be unforgiving of errors. They required test pilots who were not only good stick-and-rudder men but who also had the engineering background to understand the finer points of each testing program.

Transitioning into jets at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in the late 1940s, Trapnell (left) returns from a flight in a North American FJ-1 Fury. (©Frederick M. Trapnell Jr.)

By the early 1950s the NATC was in full swing and the test pilot school was turning out dozens of new naval aviators eager to make their mark evaluating the hottest new planes from Grumman, Vought, McDonnell, Douglas and a dozen other companies. Some of the new planes, such as the Convair XF2Y Sea Dart and Vought XF7U Cut­lass, proved to be colossal failures, but others, like the Grumman F9F Panther, Vought F-8 Crusader and Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, successfully took the Navy into the jet age. Trapnell oversaw every test program and recommendation with the same zeal and skill he had displayed in the past. He also played a small role in the testing of transonic and supersonic research aircraft, getting a chance to fly the Douglas D-558 Skystreak to a speed of Mach 0.86.

In 1950 Trapnell was granted his fondest wish, command of an aircraft carrier. As captain of Coral Sea, he would miss the highly dynamic world of flight test but was back in his element, on a ship at sea. Coral Sea was the first U.S. carrier to deploy with jets and the first to carry a plane that Trap­nell personally considered the best, the McDon­nell F2H Banshee. During his time on the carrier, he developed the concept of “double-line” launching, greatly increasing the carrier’s ability to rapidly deploy aircraft.

In January 1952, at age 49, Trapnell was diagnosed with a heart ailment that put an end to his flying career. He had flown 6,272 hours during 5,012 flights in 162 airplane types. After suffering a heart attack, he retired in September 1952 with the rank of vice admiral. In October 1957 the Society of Experimental Test Pilots elected him one of its first honorary fellows.

Trapnell died on January 30, 1975, and his ashes were scattered at sea. The following year the airfield at NAS Patuxent River was officially named Trapnell Field in his honor. He was posthumously inducted into the U.S. Naval Aviation Hall of Honor in Pensacola on May 8, 1986.

Trapnell’s legacy is evident in the past, present and future of naval aviation—from the earth to the moon. All the Navy and Marine aviators who joined NASA as astronauts in the late 1950s and 1960s were graduates of Pax River’s test pilot school, including Alan Shepard, John Glenn, Wally Schirra, James Lovell, Alan Bean, Dick Gordon, Pete Conrad and John Young.

Frequent contributor Mark Carlson recommends for further reading Harnessing the Sky: Frederick “Trap” Trapnell, the U.S. Navy’s Aviation Pioneer, 1923–52, by Frederick M. Trapnell Jr. and Dana Trapnell Tibbitts.

This feature originally appeared in the March 2020 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here!

Fisher Model 1/48 Curtiss XF6C-6 “Page Racer”

On May 31, 1930 United States Marine Corps Captain Arthur H. Page won the Curtiss Marine Trophy Race at Anacostia Naval Air Station flying a Curtiss F6C-3 Hawk biplane on floats. This was the last of the military air races. Casting about for new worlds to conquer, Curtiss, Page and the Navy set their sights on the first Thompson Trophy Race to be held as part of the National Air Races later that year in Chicago.

Seven entrants showed up for the start of the first Thompson Trophy Race September 1, 1930 at Curtiss-Reynolds Airfield (later Glenview Naval Air Station) north of Chicago. They were waved off at ten-second intervals to do 20 laps of the five-mile course. First off was the Page Racer followed by Frank Hawk's Travel-Air R-2004 “Mystery Ship”, Benny Howard's tiny DGA-3 “Pete”, Jimmy Haizlip's Travel-Air R-2003 “Mystery Ship”, Errett Williams' Wedell-Williams, “Speed” Holman's Laird Solution and Paul Adams' Travel-Air Speedwing. In subsequent Thompsons the “Race Horse Start” was adopted as interval starting makes it impossible for the spectators and participants to know the racers' positions. By lap three Page had lapped the field and Frank Hawks was out with engine troubles. On lap eight Errett Williams was also out with engine ills. Holman and Haizlip were racing hard for second place Holman was faster but Haizlip was flying a better race. On lap 17 Page flashed past the two of them high and outside and dived into the ground at a steep angle. Holman narrowly beat Haizlip and Benny Howard brought his 90 hp Pete home third followed by Paul Adams in last place.

Page died the next day in an Evanston hospital. Investigation of the crash suggested his engine lost power and nearly quit as he passed Holman and Haizlip and he, being weakened by heat exhaustion, dehydration and carbon monoxide poisoning, misjudged his control inputs and flew the crippled plane into the ground

Accuracy wise I have only three quibbles with the kit: 1. The carburetor intake atop the engine cowling is not included. The plane was tested both with and without this intake but it was raced with it installed, 2. The relief in the lower aft fuselage for the tailskid is quite a bit too large and
3. The stabilizer did not fit down flush with the top longeron of the fuselage as depicted in the kit. Photos clearly show a large gap here. I suspect it was clearance for stabilizer trimming movement. All three problems are easily rectified by the model builder.

There are no fine details such as the pitot tube, aileron push-pull rods and mass balances, elevator and rudder cables and mass balances and none of the rigging of the cabane struts.

The decals are well printed but the blue looks too light to me and the standard US Navy propeller tip markings should be red-yellow-blue from the tip inward rather than red-white-blue as on the decal sheet. Photos show the serial number on the fin was white the decal sheet provides it in black.

A ll photos of the Page Racer show polished metal cuffs over the upper ends of the landing gear struts, these are not addressed by the kit. Several photos show a darker color on the wheels pants and landing gear struts but others do not take your choice.

I like this kit. It is very well executed and represents a beautiful, one-off, subject. That's as good as it gets for me.

I paid $93.50, including postage, for my kit purchased on-line at

Now, Paul, how about a 1/48 Supermarine S.4? I think it was the best looking of all the Schneider racers.

· Racing Planes and Air Races, Vol. II 1924-1931: Reed Kinert, Aero Pubs, USA, 1967/69, Library of Congress Card No. 67 16455, pp70-82.

· Thompson Trophy Racers: Roger Huntington, Motorbooks, USA, 1989, ISBN 0-87938-365-8, pp 103-4.

· The Golden Age of Air Racing, pre 1940: S.H. Schmid & T.C. Weaver, EAA, USA, 1963,83 & 91, ISBN 0940000-00-8, pp116-21.

· American Aircraft Modeler, October 1971: Article Incredible Hawk, Don Berlin.

Curtiss F6C-4 Hawk as Training Aircraft, c.1930 - History

Anyone who has ever flown in an open cockpit biplane would agree. you'll not soon forget the experience. And if you've ever flown over about 110 mph in one, you'd probably say its unforgettable. Things start to vibrate, whir, shimmy, and shake. It's probably the flying and landing wires that really get your attention. They really go from their typical "whining" sound to a literal "screaming" sound as they cut through the wind.

I have never flown that fast in a Travel Air biplane. I guess the closest thing was a ride I got one time in a Waco Taperwing with Gordon Borland. I was pretty young at the time. We did one high-speed pass down the runway. We must have been scr eaming close to 110 mph. That was a flight to remember. I was reflecting on that flight today and I began thinking of Travel Air biplanes. I wonder what the World's Fastest Travel Air biplane is. Granted, I really prefer flying low and slow. But there are those who love the thrill of flying fast.

Travel Air NR6239 - Can you imagine going 144 mph in this airplane?

One such individual I know of may just hold the record. On May 28, 1929 Sydnor Hall of Saint Louis posted a spee d of 143 mph during the preliminaries and then 144 mph the next day during the Final heat of the Gardner Trophy Air Races. His airplane was a highly modified model D4000 Travel Air s/n 690, registered as NR6239.

Whats incredible to me is that the 143 mph speed is not just a one-time short burst of diving speed. But it is the average speed over a 790-mile distance run. I can only imagine how tiring it would have been and the beating endured by Hall for more than 5 and a half hours.

Sydnor Hall's entry in the Parks Air Field registry, May 28, 1929 (click image to enlarge)

Sydnor's success did not come without some major modifications. You can read more about this super fast Travel Air biplane in my articles on the Gardner Trophy Air Races.

Can you spot all of the changes in comparison to the photo at the top of this page?

A Brief Look at the United States Airport Runway-Taxing Approach Information Guidelines for 2007

The United State Department of Transportation, via the Federal Aviation Administration, has set-up a series of guidelines for the regulation of the approach by aircraft to a complex airport environment. The FAA describes a complex airport environment as an airport facility of medium to high traffic volume such as is the case with regional hubs or international airports. The FAA stressed on its 2007 Instrument Procedures Handbook the importance of pilots performing a detailed examination of the landing airport and it’s runway environment prior to the aircraft’s approach procedure. A detailed review of the runway distance, the turn-off taxiway, and the route of taxi to the selected parking area, are all important safety topics that need extensive briefing prior to landing. In addition to the current condition of the assigned runway, conditions such as the wetness of the pavement, the crossing wind patterns, and the possible contamination of the runway are all additional factors that the FAA recommends the pilot investigate prior to his or her approach.

The National Aeronautical Charting Office (NACO) has supplied pilots with detailed airport charts from 2000 to the present that include a runway sketch on each approach chart, to provide the pilot with vital airport information. In addition, the FAA has mandated that a full-page airport diagram be published on yearly basis. The diagram needs to include the latitude and longitude information required for the initial programming of the Flight Management Computer (FMC) on-board the aircraft. The included latitude/longitude grid will show the pilot the specific location of each parking area on the airport area for use in initializing the FMS system.

Pilots making approaches at complex airports, need to familiarize thewmselves with the complete airport environment – specifically its runway-taxiway configuration, prior to commencing an instrument approach. The possible combination of high taxi volume, poor weather patterns and the ground controller workload could make the pilot’s performance on the taxi-runway environment every bit as critical as his or her performance once airborne. These rules are designed for the safety of the pilot and the nearby ground personnel. The FAA guidelines clearly take this situation very seriously and so should the pilot.

Al Williams: Gulfhawk Impresario

Al Williams Jr.’s Curtiss 1A Gulfhawk, the first of five aircraft to bear the moniker, shows off its striking paint job at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center.

Despite Al Williams’ impressive list of aviation accomplishments, the racing, test and aerobatic pilot’s orange-painted airplanes are better known today than he is.

Lindbergh, Earhart, Doolittle, Rickenbacker, Roscoe Turner, Wiley Post, Bernt Balchen, Harold Gatty, Paul Mantz…the dean’s list of 1920s and ’30s pilots goes on, but rarely will you find Alford J. Williams Jr. on it. A Wikipedia search for “list of pilots” turns up almost 200, from Bert Acosta to Bernard Ziegler, but still no Al Williams. He may be the only aviator whose airplanes are more famous than he is. They were all called Gulfhawks and painted pumpkin orange two of them are in the National Air and Space Museum.

Yet Williams was one of the most multitalented pilots ever to stir a stick. He had been a pitcher with the New York Giants’ farm team. A lawyer with a degree from Georgetown University and a license to practice in New York. A writer who tapped out on his portable Underwood millions of words for a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column as well as several bestselling books. An executive of one of the world’s largest oil companies. A near concert-quality pianist who also played the guitar and accordion. A boxer who some said could have made a living in the ring.

Oh, and also a raceplane pilot who won the Pulitzer Trophy and competed for the Schneider Trophy. Holder of several world speed records. Chief test pilot of the U.S. Navy and a Marine Corps aviator as well. One of the country’s finest aerobatic and airshow pilots. An important figure in the development of dive bombing. And the force behind the design and construction of two ambitious Schneider Trophy racers, though neither ever made it to the starting line.

U.S. Navy Lieutenant Williams (left) stands with Charles Lindbergh (center) and Jimmy Doolittle in 1929. (National Archives)

Williams started his aviation training in 1918 and became a naval reserve ensign and aviator. Within six months, he was made a test pilot. Obviously graced with an iron stomach and fearlessness, Williams soon became the Navy’s inverted-flight expert. He developed inverted-spin recovery techniques, assessed various inverted and vertical maneuvers for their potential use in combat and sometimes is claimed to have been the first person to fly an outside loop. (The credit for that actually goes to Jimmy Doolittle.) When Williams became an airshow pilot, one of his most impressive maneuvers was an inverted falling leaf into a half-roll to a landing at the last moment.

His greatest talent as a test pilot was that, like a good racecar driver, he could quantify a machine’s faults rather than simply say “it vibrates” or “feels squirrely.” If his assessment needed graphs or mathematical calculations, they handed him a pencil and paper.

Williams was the first serious advocate of what today is called unusual-attitude training. He believed that every pilot should be taught how to recover from every flight condition that diverged from straight-and-level. He also became a fan of parachutes, though he rarely used one during a career that included two major crashes. In the mid-1920s, he led the drive to ensure that all future Navy aircraft were designed with pilot and aircrew seats that accommodated parachutes.

The premier air competition of the early 1920s was the Pulitzer Trophy Race, the Indy 500 for airplanes. The U.S. Army Air Service won the trophy in 1920, the first year it was held. In the 1922 race, the Navy’s Al Williams could do no better than fourth. The Navy reacted like Annapolis when Army stole their goat, and Bureau of Aeronautics head Admi­ral William Moffett ordered his boys to take the 1923 trophy. The Navy did exactly that, filling the top four spots, with Williams in the lead.

His speed, 243.67 mph after four laps around the 31.1-mile course in a Curtiss R2C-1 biplane, was faster than the existing world speed record, so the Navy decided Williams and his friendly rival Lieutenant Harold Brow should make an official attempt at that record. In November 1923, Williams and Brow went at it over a 3-kilometer straightaway at New York’s Mitchel Field, trading top speeds back and forth. Again Williams came out on top, with a world record 266.59 mph. His reputation was made: fastest man on the planet.

Williams now found himself with an influential patron in Admiral Moffett, one of the most powerful officers in the Navy. In fact, he became Moffett’s personal pilot. (Moffett, though the most air-minded admiral in the Navy, wasn’t himself a pilot.) The relationship was strong enough that in May 1924 Williams performed a silly stunt during an airshow at Naval Air Station Lakehurst, the Navy’s big lighter-than-air base, and got away with it: He flew through the airship Shenandoah’s huge hangar in a Vought VE-7 biplane. It took him two tries to get lined up properly, but the crowd loved it and the Navy looked the other way.

Williams flies a Vought VE-7 biplane through the airship Shenandoah’s hangar at Lakehurst, N.J., during a 1924 airshow. (HistoryNet Archives)

Utterly intent on furthering the cause of high-speed flight, Williams refused to stand sea duty, which was required of every Navy line officer. Though the Navy admitted that he was an outstanding air racer and aerobatic pilot, his proficiency in tactics and gunnery was deemed “far below the standard required of line officers in Naval aviation.” Nor did he know anything of carrier or scout-catapult operations.

Moffett, however, was a huge Schneider Trophy fan, and that seaplane competition was meant to be Williams’ next act on the world stage. The Navy had won the trophy in 1923, and Williams joined the combined Army-Navy race team in 1925. (There was no 1924 race.) But he didn’t make it through the preliminary trials, and Army pilot Jimmy Doolittle won the race.

Williams wasn’t selected for the 1926 team, which must have vexed him, since the Schneider that year was run right on his doorstep, off the big naval base at Norfolk, Va. Italian racers won first and third Americans finished second and fourth.

Realizing that the Curtiss R3C raceplanes and their modified Curtiss Conqueror V-12 engines were reaching the end of their development potential, Williams set out to build his own private-entry raceplane for the 1927 Schneider: the Kirkham-Williams Racer. It would be powered by a 24-cylinder Packard engine partially funded by the Navy. The X-2775 was essentially two 600-hp Packard V-12s with a common crankcase and crankshaft between them. Since each V-12 had a 60-degree angle between its cylinder banks, this created a relatively slim, tightly cowled X engine. Output was intended to be 1,200 hp, making it America’s most powerful aircraft engine.

The Kirkham-Williams airframe, however, was not so advanced. Patterned after the Curtisses he’d been racing, it was a biplane at a time when the Italians and British were showing that monoplanes were the path to the future. Williams also chose to cover both the upper and lower surfaces of its wings with 12,000 feet of brass tubing through which engine coolant flowed, creating an enormous surface radiator. Unfortunately, the tubing decreased lift, doubled the drag of the wings and slowed the airplane down by 20 mph, according to testing later done by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Williams stands on the float of his Kirkham-Williams Racer, built for the 1927 Schneider Trophy Race but unable to compete. (U.S. Naval Institute)

The Kirkham-Williams did fly, but the 290 mph that the floatplane was barely capable of simply wasn’t Schneider-competitive. Williams canceled his participation in the race, saying the airplane was nose-heavy and its floats vibrated. The Navy, becoming increasingly disenchanted with the concept of raceplanes as fighter precursors, didn’t even send a team to the ’27 Schneider Trophy races.

Why not put the Kirkham-Williams on wheels, then, and try for a world speed record? In Novem­ber 1927, Williams did exactly that. He was able to make a single run, at an unofficially world-beating 322.42 mph, aided by a 40 mph tailwind. It was the Kirkham-Williams’ last flight.

But Williams wasn’t ready to give up. He and his backers, which still included the Navy, created the 1929 Williams Mercury floatplane. Outwardly it looked like a monoplane version of the Kirkham-Williams, but it was actually an all-new airframe, though still powered by the Packard X-2775. The wings were now covered by flush surface radiators, not tubing, and the engine had a reduction gearbox that turned the propeller at two-thirds crankshaft speed for better efficiency. During the Kirkham-Williams’ development, the X-2775 had also gained a supercharger that, although heavy and inefficient, increased output to 1,400 hp.

The enormous torque of the huge 24-cylinder Packard buried the airplane’s left float and left wingtip during takeoff runs. The resultant spume bent prop blades. In fact, photos make it plain that the Williams Mercury was throwing up a wall of water, not just spray. The solution would have been to make a careful, partial-power takeoff run until the ailerons and rudder became effective, but by the time Williams figured this out, he had mangled several props.

The Williams Mercury never really flew, outside of one Spruce Gooseish 300-foot run in ground effect. The Navy rescinded its support and ordered Williams to sea duty, though he wanted another year on the beach to fix his racer’s problems. No dice, the Navy said, pack your seabag.

In a classic you-can’t-fire-me-I-quit move, Lieutenant Alford Williams Jr. resigned from the Navy in March 1930, though he soon joined the Marine Corps Reserve. He quickly became a popular airshow and aerobatic-display pilot, having bought a Curtiss Hawk 1A demonstrator originally built by Curtiss to showcase the fighter for potential foreign clients. Williams’ airplane was based on a Navy F6C-4.

With a steel-tube, wire-braced, overengineered fuselage and many-ribbed wings, the Hawk was “hell for stout,” in the words of film stunt pilot Frank Tallman, who during the 1960s restored and flew the original Williams Hawk. Tallman had found the decrepit Curtiss parked on the fifth floor of a Manhattan building that housed an avia­tion trade school. In his book Flying the Old Planes, Tallman also noted that the Hawk was named after a category of birds famed for their vertical-dive speed, and Williams would demonstrate that no power dive could break a Curtiss Hawk.

Williams did soon break it, however, when in October 1931 the Hawk’s engine failed during an airshow inverted falling-leaf maneuver. He managed to pancake the airplane into a parking lot, but it needed major repairs and a new engine.

This led to Williams’ involvement with an aviator as oddly multitalented as he was: Roger Wolfe Kahn, an aviation enthusiast who lent Williams his Vought O2U Corsair biplane so that Williams could continue to fly airshows while his Hawk was repaired. Kahn was a jazz musician of considerable note, a Gatsbyesque playboy and an occasional film actor whose exploits had put him on the cover of Time magazine in September 1927. Kahn’s and Williams’ paths would soon cross again, when Kahn foreswore his musical career and became, of all things, a test pilot for Grumman and ultimately manager of its technical services and sales division.

In 1933 Al Williams had been suggested as assistant secretary of war for aeronautics under new president Franklin D. Roosevelt, and he had substantial support for that position from both the military and aviation communities. Instead, he took a job as sales manager for the brand-new aviation products division of the Gulf Oil Corporation. He brought his airplane with him, and Williams’ Hawk became Gulfhawk, resplendent in a vivid orange paint job with a white sunburst atop the upper wing (so airshow crowds could tell when the airplane was inverted).

Williams represented Gulf Oil in a variety of ways, particularly by encouraging private flying and by establishing an aviation youth group, the Scripps-Howard Junior Aviators. The club ultimately had well over 400,000 teenage subscribers to his weekly aviation newspaper columns, modeling contests and radio talks. Many of those kids went on to fly in World War II.

Despite his dash through Shenandoah’s hangar, Williams despised “stunters,” his label for pilots who attempted record flights for their own glory and profit. One particular focus of his ire was Amelia Earhart, whose Lockheed Electra, he wrote in one of his Scripps-Howard newspaper columns, constituted “the latest and most distressing racket that has been given to a trusting and enthusiastic pilot. There’s nothing in that ‘Flying Laboratory’ beyond duplicates of the controls and apparatus to be found on board every major airline transport.”

Williams’ Gulfhawk became the source of an oft-cited but false claim: that he “invented” dive bombing. It’s clear that he used the Hawk to demonstrate steep dives and mock bomb drops at airshows, but the principle of dive bombing was understood and tried by the British in World War I: Pointing an airplane and its bomb at a target was more accurate than cruising over it in level flight and guesstimating when to release. The U.S. Marine Corps flew dive-bombing missions with de Havilland DH-4s during the Haitian and Nicaraguan campaigns in the 1920s, and it was not Williams but Navy Lt. Cmdr. Frank Wagner who flew the first near-vertical power dive in a Curtiss Hawk, in October 1926.

Williams, however, had befriended the German World War I ace and aerobatic pilot Ernst Udet, whom he brought to the U.S. in 1931 to represent Germany at the National Air Races, in Cleveland. There the German ace first witnessed Williams’ dive-bombing display. Hugely impressed by the Curtiss Hawk, Udet acquired two for the infant Luftwaffe and used them to experiment with the tactics that ultimately produced the Junkers Ju-87 Stuka, the world’s most notorious dive bomber.

The Hawk was a 1920s design, and the small world of oil company demo pilots was a competitive one. Roscoe Turner flew a Wedell-Williams raceplane for the Gilmore Oil Company, Jimmy Doolittle of Gee Bee fame was the manager of Shell Oil’s aviation department, Frank Hawks and his Northrop Gamma Sky Chief represented Texaco, Wiley Post’s Lockheed Vega Winnie Mae was sponsored by Phillips Petroleum and other famous airplanes sported oil company logos. Williams needed something splashier than a post–World War I airplane.

He found it in Grumman’s state-of-the-art (at least by U.S. standards) F3F fighter, a barrel-bodied biplane with a big radial engine and hand-cranked retractable gear. Painted Gulf Oil orange, blue and white and with short F2F wings for greater maneuverability, it became the G-22 Gulfhawk II, the best-known of Williams’ airplanes.

Williams flew the F3F in the service of Gulf Oil from 1936 until 1948. The big biplane was used to test Gulf high-octane fuel and mil-spec lubricants, and Williams often flew Gulfhawk II while wearing a throat microphone, a device he’d refined (though not, as is often claimed, invented that honor goes to Wiley Post). The throat mike picked up voice comm from small microphones strapped around a pilot’s neck over the vocal cords. It allowed a fighter pilot to maneuver and talk with one hand on the stick and the other on the throttle.

The only other pilot ever to fly Gulfhawk II was Udet, while the airplane was in Germany during a European tour in 1938. Williams badly wanted to fly a Messerschmitt Bf-109, and that was the quid pro quo for allowing his German friend into the Grumman’s cockpit. Williams was the first American to pilot a Bf-109, and he came away from the experience convinced that it was the best airplane he’d ever flown. Like Charles Lindbergh, who flew a 109 soon after him, Williams returned to the U.S. to warn the War Department not to underestimate the new Luftwaffe.

Williams’ Grumman G-22 Gulfhawk II biplane shows its age alongside Grumman G-58A Bearcat Gulfhawk IV. (Aviation History Collection/Alamy)

Williams had always advocated for a strong military air arm, something that made him no friends among the Navy’s battleship admirals in a sense he was the Navy version of Billy Mitchell—foresighted and outspoken. He also said that such an air arm should be independent, not a subsidiary of the Army or Navy. Unfortunately, he was a decade too early. The Marine Corps, in fact, forced his resignation as a major in 1940 for what they considered to be his extreme public statements.

Williams went on to use Gulfhawk II to demonstrate aerobatics and precision flying to aviation cadets during World War II. The F3F was an antique by war’s end, so Gulf replaced it with the G-58A Gulfhawk IV, a civilianized Grumman F8F Bear­cat identical to one his pal Roger Wolfe Kahn was flying on his sales calls. (Gulfhawk III was a two-seat version of Williams’ F3F that Gulf used for PR rides and utility transportation. There was also a Gulfhawk Junior, a Stinson Voyager reserved for Williams’ personal use, and five unnamed Gulf Stinson Reliants.)

Gulfhawk IV lived a brief life from August 1947 until January 1949, when the colorful airplane died in a fiery landing catastrophe at New Bern, N.C. Williams was returning from a Florida airshow when bad weather ahead caused him to opt for a precautionary stopover. Many reports suggest that the left landing-gear leg folded, though Grumman test pilot Corky Meyer, who had originally checked Williams out in the big fighter, frankly wrote that he “failed to extend his landing gear.” Whatever the case, the Grumman crushed its external belly tank, which was full of avgas. Williams escaped in time, but the inevitable fire consumed the airplane.

Years later, warbird collector Elmer Ward bought Gulfhawk’s paperwork and built a replica from Bearcat components, which he painted in Gulf colors and registered with Williams’ original tail number, NL3025. It too crashed, after an engine failure at the 1993 Oshkosh EAA airshow, within months after completion of the rebuild.

Al Williams retired from Gulf in 1951. He died of cancer in 1958 at age 62 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

For further reading, contributing editor Stephan Wilkinson recommends Williams’ 1940 book Airpower and Al Williams: The Fleet’s First Frequent Flyer, by Dr. Raymond A. Wiley.

This feature originally appeared in the July 2019 issue of Aviation History. Subscribe here!

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