Curtiss F4C

The Curtiss F4C was a version of the Navy TS-1 scout that used an aluminium frame in place of the wooden frame on the earlier aircraft. The TS-1 was a small scout aircraft designed in 1921-22 for service on the carrier USS Langley. It had a slightly unusual design, with the lower and upper wings both separated from the fuselage by a gap, a fuel tank in the lower wing centre section and diagonal wing struts. The F4C retained the equal span non-staggered wings of the TS-1 and the Lawrence J-1 air cooled radial engine.

Navy TS-1 of VF-1, USS Langley (CV-1), 1923
Navy TS-1 of VF-1,
USS Langley (CV-1), 1923

Curtiss produced most of the TS-1s, and so when the Navy decided to test out a metal framed version Curtiss was the logical choice to produce it. The F4C was designed by Charles Ward Hall, and the aircraft is sometimes known as the Curtiss-Hall F4C-1. Hall made a number of changes to the basic design, including raising the lower wing to the bottom of the fuselage. The fuselage was built around a dural tube framework, while the wings had tubular spars and stamped dural ribs. Both fuselage and wings were fabric covered.

The first F4C made its maiden flight on 4 September 1924. Two F4Cs were built, and their performance was comparable to the wooden TS-1. However it was slower than the Curtiss PW-8 and related P-1 Hawk, and so the Navy decided to stop development of the F4C and instead order their own Hawks, starting with the Curtiss F6C Hawk.

Despite its higher number this was the first Curtiss fighter under the US Navy type/ manufacturer system. Numbers one to three were allocated to Navy racing aircraft that were given fighter as well as racer designations (CR/ CF, R2C/ F2C and R3C/ F3C). The next Curtiss fighter would be the F6C, 5 having been skipped because of the large number of Curtiss F-5L flying boats that were still in service in the 1920s.

Engine: Lawrence J-1/ Wright J-3 radial engine
Power: 200hp
Crew: 1
Span: 25ft 0in
Length: 18ft 4in
Height: 8ft 4.5in
Empty weight: 1,029lb
Maximum take-off weight: 1,703lb
Max speed: 125mph
Climb Rate: 3.9 mines to 5,000ft
Service ceiling: 19,900ft
Range: 470 miles
Armament: Two .30in machine guns

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 February 2013), Curtiss F4C , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_curtiss_F4C.html

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