This is a classic Of Wings & Things from the 1980s. GAN continues to run the late Mr. Bowers’ columns for the enjoyment of his readers.
Aeronautical engineer and manufacturer Grover C. Loening came up with a novel idea for a military amphibian in 1923. Using the same engine, his amphib could outperform the standard two-seat observation planes that the U.S. Army and Navy were using. There had been plenty of previous amphibians, but they were clumsy flying boats or pontoon seaplanes with retractable wheels attached to single or twin floats.
This is a classic Of Wings & Things from the 1980s. GAN will continue to run the late Mr. Bowers’ column for the enjoyment of his readers.
Regularly scheduled air mail service was inaugurated in Europe in March 1918, and in the United States, two months later, on May 15. While international operations didn’t get under way in the Western Hemisphere until 1920, the first officially recognized Canada-to-US mail flight took place on March 3, 1919. A notable feature of this flight was that it was a private operation — all other U.S. air mail was being flown by the Post Office Department at the time.
One of the popular areas of the homebuilt aircraft movement is the designing and building of reduced-scale replicas.
Since the start of World War I, one of the most popular “extra” markings on military aircraft (aside from the standardized nationality and unit markings) has been the application of a mouth (sometimes a whole face) with very prominent painted-on teeth. This was supposed to represent a face or mouth for the plane itself, not just a side decoration or painted-on picture.
The first Curtiss Hawks for the U.S. Navy were nine F6C-1s, direct equivalents of the Army P-1s, and were delivered late in 1925. The designation meant a fighter model (F), the sixth ordered from Curtiss. The –1 identified the initial configuration. These were used mostly by the U.S. Marines from shore bases as they were not equipped for carrier operations. The last four, however, were completed as F6C-2 with arrester hooks and high-impact landing gear for operation from the Navy’s single carrier of the time. These led to an order for 35 outwardly identical F6C-3s. All models through the –3 could be fitted with twin floats and, for a while in 1927-28, one squadron, the famous “Red Rippers,” used F6C-3 seaplanes. This was the Navy’s last use of floatplane fighters.
The Curtiss Hawk line of fighters for the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and export was one of the best-known single-seat biplanes in the years between the two world wars and is still a favorite with model builders. The many configuration changes that the Hawk displayed over its very long — for those days — production life from 1923 through 1936 adds to the technical interest shown in the line.
Throughout the homebuilt movement many designs have a strong resemblance to others. The all-time toppers in this area are the Wittman “Tailwind” and the Nesmith “Cougar.”
Lyrical writers who comment lovingly on the glories of the era of the big rigid airships – Zeppelins, to give the name of the German originator to all of them – frequently call them “Silver Giants” or something similar. Whatever the noun, the adjective “silver” always seems to get in there.