Curtiss Model F

Curtiss Model F
Models E and F
Role Utility flying boat
Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Designer Glenn Curtiss
First flight 12 January 1912
Primary users United States Navy
Russian Navy
Italian Navy
Number built over 150

The Curtiss Models F made up a family of early flying boats developed in the United States in the years leading up to World War I. Widely produced, Model Fs saw service with the United States Navy under the designations C-2 through C-5, later reclassified to AB-2 through AB-5. Several examples were exported to Russia, and the type was built under licence in Italy.

Marshall Earle Reid at Keuka Lake in his Curtiss seaplane circa 1912
Gustave Maurice Heckscher in his Curtiss seaplane at 60 miles per hour circa 1912


Design and development

In configuration, these were biplane flying boats powered by a single engine mounted amongst the interplane struts and driving a pusher propeller. The pilot and a single passenger sat side-by-side in an open cockpit. The wing cellule was derived from the Model E landplane and was of two-bay, unstaggered, equal-span construction with large ailerons mounted on the interplane struts and extending past the span of the wings themselves. The earliest examples of this design were built and sold by Curtiss in 1912 without any designation applied to them; the Model F name only coming into use the following year. Confusingly, Curtiss also used the designation Model E to refer to some early machines in this family, although these were quite distinct from Curtiss landplanes that bore this same designation and all but identical to the Model Fs.

Model Fs built from 1918 featured a revised, unequal-span wing that incorporated the ailerons into the upper wing and sponsons on the sides of the hull to improve the aircraft's handling in water. These were known as the Model MF (for Modernised-F), and years later as the Seagull in the post-war civil market.

Operational history

The US Navy initially purchased four of these aircraft in addition to the Freak Boat (C-1/AB-1) that it had already obtained and which was retrofitted to approximately the same design as the others. One of these, the C-2 became the first aircraft to fly under automatic control on 30 August 1913 when fitted with a gyroscopic stabiliser designed by Elmer Sperry. The same aircraft (by now redesignated AB-2) then became the first aircraft to be launched by catapult from a warship while underway when it took off from USS North Carolina on 5 November 1915. Her sister, AB-3, became the first US heavier-than-air aircraft to see military action when launched from USS Birmingham on 25 April 1914 on a scouting mission over Veracruz during the United States Occupation of Veracruz.

The US Navy bought another eight aircraft before the end of 1916, but orders in quantity only came following the type's selection as the Navy's standard flying-boat trainer in April 1917. An initial batch of 144 of the basic F model were ordered, followed by 22 MFs in 1918. Another 80 MFs were produced under license by the Naval Aircraft Factory. A small number of Model Es and Fs were also purchased by the US Army.

The Russian Navy purchased two batches of Model Fs in 1913-14 and operated them as part of the Black Sea and Baltic Sea fleets until replaced by the Model K shortly thereafter. In Italy, the Curtiss representative Enea Bossi secured rights for local licence-production of the Type F by the Zari brothers, who built eight examples at their workshop in Bovisa, Milan. The first of these was demonstrated to the Italian Navy on Lake Como on 22 September 1914. The Model F was adopted by Regia Marina on the battleship Dante Alighieri, cruisers Amalfi and San Marco, and seaplane tender Elba.[1]

Rogers Airlines operated a postwar fleet of 10 Curitss Seagulls as late as 1927. The aircraft flew routes out of Miami and Nassau in the winter months and returned to upstate New York for maintenance and barnstorming in the summer.[2]


Model E
Designation sometimes applied to certain early members of this family.
Sperry-Curtiss E
Amphibious version of Model E for Lawrence Sperry.
School Machine
Trainer with nose boarding ramp.
Sport Boat
Three seat deluxe version.
Reid Hydroaeroplane
Custom version for Marshall Reid with shoulder-yoke aileron controls.
Model F
Standard production model from 1912 onwards, received this designation 1914.
Model MF
Modernised version of 1914, production standard from 1918 onwards.
Post-war civil version of MF with two additional seats. (Model 18) Approximately 16 sold.[3]
Amphibious version of Seagull. (Model 20).[4]
Judson Triplane
Enlarged custom triplane version.
McCormick Flying Boat
Enlarged, five-seat custom version for Harold McCormick.
Model FL
Model F fitted with wings from Curtiss Model L. Single example, also designated Model 7 built 1917.[5]


 Russian Empire
 United States

Specifications (1917 Model F)

Data from Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947[5]

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two
  • Length: 27 ft 9¾ in (8.47 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 1⅜ in (13.75 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 2⅞ in (3.42 m)
  • Wing area: 387 ft2 (36.0 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,860 lb (844 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,460 lb (1,116 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss OXX-3 V-8, 100 hp (75 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 69 mph (111 km/h)
  • Endurance: 5 hours  30 min
  • Service ceiling: 4,500 ft (1,370 m)
  • Rate of climb: 230[6] ft/min (1.2 m/s)

See also


  1. ^ "Idrovolante Curtiss "Flyng Boat"". Retrieved 3 May 2011. 
  2. ^ "The Curtiss Seagull". Sport Aviation. August 1960. 
  3. ^ Bowers 1979, p. 178.
  4. ^ Bowers 1979, p. 181.
  5. ^ a b Bowers 1979, p.83.
  6. ^ Climb to 2,300 ft (700 m): 10 min
  • Bowers, Peter M. (1979). Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam. ISBN 0 370 10029 8. 
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 193, 278. 
  • The Curtiss Flyleaf. Hammondsport, New York: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Local History. 1987. 
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 891 Sheet 43. 

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Curtiss Model H — Model H family Curtiss H 12 Large America in RNAS service Role Experimental flying boat Manufacturer …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model D — A Headed Curtiss Model D (Curtiss photo 1916) Pusher later Headless models incorporated elevators around the rudder in the tail (like most aircraft since) …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model R — Model R Curtiss R 4L Role Military utility aircraft Designer Curtis …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model J — Role Biplane National origin United States of America Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane Company Designer Benjamin D. Thomas First flight 12 March 1914 Introduction 1914 Numbe …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model E — Model E The A 1, the United States Navy s first aircraft Role Utility aircraft Manufacturer …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model L — Model L Role Civil trainer Manufacturer Curtiss First flight 1916 The Curtiss Model L was a triplane produced as a trainer aircraft in the United States in 1916. A largely conventional design with the upper two wings of equal span and a shorter… …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model S — Model S Role fighter National origin United States Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company The Curtiss Model S (also known as Speed Scout or Model 10) was a single seat fighter aircraft.[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model K — This article is about the aero engine. For the 1915 flying boat, see Curtiss Model K (aircraft). Model K Curtiss Model …   Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model 75 — Curtiss P 36 Hawk/Model 75 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Curtiss Model N — Model N Curtiss N 9H Role floatplane Manufacturer …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”