The Bowers ‘Namu II’ returns to Seattle

Namu 2

Most people remember the late Peter M. Bowers as the designer of experimental aircraft, an eminent aviation historian and the writer of “Of Wings & Things” in General Aviation News.

He is perhaps best remembered for the single-place FlyBaby, but did you know that he also created a two-place mid-wing design in the 1970s?

The airplane was known as the Bowers Model 4 or “Namu II” because it looked like an Orca of the same name at the Seattle Aquarium.

Namu 2The airplane is currently owned by Don Norman of Oak Harbor, Wash.

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Novel idea: Loening builds amphibian that outperforms its predecessors

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.

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Neither rain nor sleet…

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.

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Shark attack: Marking airplanes with a shark mouth used by both sides during both World Wars

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.

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The Navy’s Curtiss Hawks

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.

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Curtiss Hawk

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.

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