Glen Curtiss First Falcon
Article from 2016-01-05
What usually comes to mind when mentioning America of the twenties - early thirties? Someone from the Chicago mafia war, someone from Ford’s automobile empire, the majority will simply see images of huge skyscrapers and bright advertising lights. And few people remember the success of the United States in the aviation field. And how many were there? Participation in races for the Schneider Cup and Lindbergh’s flight on the “Spirit of St. Louis” across the ocean look much more modest than, say, the grandiose successes of the “Stalin Falcons”. In addition, in those years, the Americans did not fight with anyone, at least not “seriously”. For many, American aviation appeared to the world in World War II, taking literally out of nowhere. One of the pages of "obscurity" turned out to be the Curtiss aircraft, which to one degree or another were proudly called the Hawk - the falcon.
Hawks are perhaps the most significant page in the development of American aviation at the turn of the 20-30-s, making up the basis of overseas aviation with Boeing’s aircraft. Moreover, it was the Curtiss machines that had the honor of becoming the first airborne combat aircraft.
Glen Curtiss fighters "Hawk" were a logical development of a series of racing aircraft developed by the Curtiss Airplane and Motor Company. The company used an engine of their own design on them - 12-cylinder, V-shaped, liquid cooling, which had a volume of 7,4 l and developed 435 hp. The engine wore the brand name D-12, but in the mid-twenties, by the US military service, it was given the designation V-1150 - V-shaped, cube of 1150. inches
The first fighter for the new engine was developed by Curtiss as a personal initiative back in 1922 year. The aircraft received the brand designation "model 33". Three prototypes were ordered by the 27 Army Aviation Service on April 1923, under the designation PW-8. In general, they looked like a Boeing PM-9 fighter, also ordered by the army.
The name of the PW-8 fighter was decoded as “fighter” (Pursuit - literally: hunter, pursuer), water-cooled engine, model 8 ”. This fighter designation scheme was adopted by the army in 1920. The fighters were divided into seven categories: RA - "fighter with an air-cooled engine"; РG - "attack fighter"; PN - "night fighter"; PS - "Special Fighter"; PW - "fighter with a liquid-cooled engine"; R - "racing"; TR - "double fighter". Experienced PM-8 received later with the 1924 g the designation XPW-8, where "X" means an experimental aircraft.
The first experienced PW-8 was supplied to the 14 Army in May 1923. The design of the fighter was mixed - the fuselage was welded from steel pipes and had a fabric covering. The chassis was outdated with a common axle. The wing is solid wood, with a very thin profile, which required making a two-column biplane box. The cooling system included special surface radiators on the wing - the Curtiss design, first tested on racing aircraft in the 1922 year. Radiators were installed on the upper and lower planes of the upper wing.
During the joint tests of the HRW-8 and the Boeing XPW-9 at McCook Field, the first one showed itself to be a faster aircraft, but the HRW-9 was more maneuverable, durable and reliable. The main problem of PW-8, from the point of view of the army, was surface radiators. Despite the gain in aerodynamics, they became a real headache for the staff and, moreover, constantly flowed. In addition, the army concluded that such radiators are too vulnerable in battle.
The second experienced HRW-8 differed from the first in a more aerodynamically clean landing gear. The aerodynamics of the bonnet was improved, the racks connecting the ailerons of the upper and lower wings, and the new elevator were installed. The take-off weight increased from 1232 to 1403 kg.
Although the army preferred the Boeing design, Curtiss also received an order for the 25 serial PW-8. It was a kind of fee for the cooperation of the company in the implementation of the idea of General Billy Mitchell, to fly through the territory of the States in one light day.
The experienced XPW-8 received weapons and the necessary equipment, and on it, Lieutenant Rossel Mowen, in July 1923, twice unsuccessfully tried to make such a flight. Later, the aircraft was equipped with a second cockpit, and under the slightly misleading designation CO-X ("experimental intelligence"), it was announced to participate in the 1923 Liberty Engine Builders Prize Race. However, the plane was withdrawn from the race due to protest fleetrecognizing the fraud.
Serial aircraft, ordered in September 1923, began to be commissioned in June 1924. These cars were similar to the second instance of the HRW-8 and differed mainly in the stoic chassis. Most of the serial PW-8s went to the 17 Fighter Squadron, and a few vehicles for various studies at McCook Field. 23 June 1924 r one of them made the first successful trance American flight in one light day. The aircraft, under the command of Lieutenant Russell Mowan, climbed from Mitchell Field and, with intermediate landings for refueling at Daytona, St. Joseph, Cheyenne and Saldura, reached Long Island.
A third experienced XPW-8 was meanwhile returned to the factory for refit. He received a new wing with more powerful spars, which made it possible to abandon one of the racks of the billon box. The new aircraft received the brand designation "model 34". The fighter was returned to the army in September 1924 of the year, already under the designation HRW-8A. A source of constant problems - surface wing radiators were replaced by conventional radiators installed in the center wing section of the upper wing. In addition, the aircraft received a new rudder - without balancer. The HRW-8A participated in the Pulitzer Prize 1924. And before the race it was equipped with a tunnel radiator, installed directly above the engine modeled on the Boeing PM-9 aircraft. At the same time the car was renamed again in HRW-8AA, and it came third.
The new radiator made it possible to lower the temperature of the coolant compared to the surface radiator of the first two XPW-8, but the army didn’t seem to be enough. At the same time, the army was completely satisfied with the Boeing XPW-9 fighter, which differed from the XPW-8 primarily in the tunnel radiator and tapering upper wing. As a result, the army asked to use both on the HRW-8A and re-submit the aircraft for testing. Curtiss agreed with this, and in March 1925, the aircraft was handed over to the army accordingly.
The army was now completely satisfied and 7 March 1925 of the year transferred to Curtiss an order for mass production. Meanwhile, in May 1924, the army changed the designation of fighters - instead of seven categories, one designation was introduced. R. It was HRW-8А that turned out to be the first aircraft ordered by the army under the new designation - 15 machines were called P-1.
The P-1 (brand name "model 34") was also the first Curtiss biplane, called Hawk, which was synonymous with all further fighters of the company up to the P-40, the Second World War. Externally, the P-1 differed from the HRW-8В only with an additional aerodynamic compensator for the rudder and some modifications of the wing struts. The aircraft was equipped with a Curtiss V-1150-1 (D-12С) engine with an 435 HP power, but the engine also allowed the V-1400 to be powered by a more powerful and heavy 500 HP. (originally planned to put the V-1400 on the last five aircraft of the series). The wing retained the wooden structure, but with narrowing consoles. The fuselage was welded from steel pipes and had a fabric covering. Under the fuselage was installed fuel tank on the 250 l.
The first P-1 was delivered to the army in August 1925 of the year. Its empty weight was 935 kg, and take-off - 1293 kg. The maximum flight speed at the ground reached 260 km / h, and cruising - 215 km / h. The height in 1500 m he gained in 3,1 min. The ceiling reached 6860 kg. Flight range was 520 km. The aircraft was armed with one large-caliber and one machine gun rifle caliber, synchronized for firing through the propeller.
The first copy of the P-1 was used as an experienced one. He was temporarily re-equipped under the Liberty engine and used in the 1926 National Air Race. Later, he was supplied with an experienced Curtiss V-1460 engine, and the aircraft was renamed the XP-17.
The last five P-1 were planned to be equipped with a larger Curtiss V-1400 engine, and therefore, by the time the army was delivered, they were renamed P-2. However, the V-1400 engines proved to be unreliable in operation, with the result that the last three Р2 airplanes were altered in a year after the usual engine.
The P-1 A (“Model 34G”) was an improved version of the P-1, and became the first high-volume version of the Hawk. In September, the 1925 of the P-25 fighters was ordered, and the delivery began in April 1. longer than the previous modification, the hood received new contours. The fuel system was changed, bomb racks and new equipment were installed, due to which the weight increased by 1926 kg, and the speed somewhat decreased.
If we count three converted P-2, then from the planned 25 P-1A in the original version was delivered 23 fighter. One of the P-1A was converted into an army racing aircraft XP-6A number 1. A wing from the former HRW-8A was installed on it, as well as a surface radiator with РW-8 along with its own motor frame, on which a new engine, the V-1570 Conquer, was installed. In addition, the aircraft somewhat improved aerodynamically. The result was a really high-speed aircraft. In 1927, at the National Air Racing XP-6A took first place, showing the speed 322 km / h. However, shortly before the next 1928 races, the plane was broken.
The designation XP-1A received the machine, which was used for various tests. Despite the prefix "X", the plane was not really planned as a prototype of the new fighter. The P-1B was a new modification of the fighter ordered in August 1926. Deliveries to the Army Air Corps began on October 1926. The radiator has now become more rounded, and the wheels have become somewhat larger in diameter. The engine hood has been redone and refined. The aircraft also received lighting rockets for landing in the dark. Due to the new equipment, the weight has increased, and the characteristics have decreased. Army shipments began in December 1926. The aircraft received a Curtiss V-1150-3 engine (D-12D) hp 435. Empty weight was 955 kg, take-off - 1330 kg. The maximum speed was at the ground 256 km / h, cruising - 205 km / h. Rate of climb decreased to 7,8 m / s. Flight range reached 960 km. Armament has not changed. P-1В were used in the same squadrons that exploited previous models of "Hawke".
The designation XP-1В was worn by a pair of P-1В, used at Wright Field for testing. And the latter received wing machine guns. In October, the 1928 of the year was followed by the largest order in those days for Hawke fighters - on the 33 aircraft of the P-1C modification ("model 34O"). The first of these was delivered to the army in April 1929. These cars had larger wheels equipped with brakes. The last two P-1С received instead of a rubber, hydraulic damping chassis. On the plane was a variant of the Curtiss engine V-1150-5 (D-12) with power 435 hp Since the weight of the aircraft has increased again - empty to 970 kg, and take-off - 1350 kg, the characteristics have again decreased. The maximum ground speed was 247 km / h, cruising - 200 km / h, ceiling - 6340 m. 1500 height m P-1С gained in 3,9 min. The initial rate of climb was 7,4 m / s. The normal flight range is 525 km, the maximum one is 890 km.
The P-1 was converted into a racing XP-6В, having received the Conqueror engine instead of the D-12. The plane was intended for a high-speed long-haul flight to New York - Alaska, but was broken, not having reached the final point of the route, and was returned by ship to the States for recovery.
The XP-1C designation wore the P-1C used for testing. The aircraft received an experienced Heinrick radiator and the Prestone cooling system. Despite its designation, the XP-1C, again, was not the prototype of any aircraft.
In 1924, the American army came up with the idea of using a conventional fighter equipped with a reduced power engine as a training plane. Such training fighters usually did not arm. However, this idea was not very successful. Since the training aircraft retained the structure of the combatant fighter, with a lower engine power, it clearly had excessive structural strength and, as a result, was weighted. Accordingly, the flight data were bad. Pretty soon, all such training aircraft were converted back into fighters. They again mounted engines D-12, and they received the designation P-1F and P-10.
The first training fighter Curtiss became R-1А, equipped with a 180-strong engine Reut-Hisspano liquid cooling, the aircraft was delivered to the army in July 1926, under the designation ХАТ-4. The serial version received the designation AT-4. In October 1926 of the year were ordered 40 training machines numbered. All of them were equipped with a Reut-Hispano E (V-720) engine. With it, the maximum ground speed reached 212 km / h, cruising - 170 km / h. Rate of climb on the ground - 5 m / s. Take-off weight - 1130 kg. Later, the 35 AT-4 was converted back into fighters with the installation of a Curtiss V-1150-3 engine and a single 7,62-mm machine gun. These aircraft received the designation P-1D.
The last five AT-4s have already been completed as AT-5 for the 220-strong Wright engine J5 (R-970-1) Air-cooled Verlwind, instead of the Wright-Ispono liquid cooling engine. The new engine was lighter than its predecessor, but the aircraft’s thrust-to-weight ratio remained low. The maximum ground speed was 200 km / h, cruising - 160 km / h. These training aircraft were also converted into fighters by installing the D-12D engine with an 425 hp power. and one 7,62-mm machine gun. At the same time fighters were designated P-1. These machines, together with the P-1D, were part of the 43 training squadron at Kelly Field.
AT-5A ("model 34М") was an improved version of the AT-5 with an extended fuselage and other differences in the design of the model P-1A. By 30 July 1927, the army received an 31 such aircraft. In the 1929 year, all the AT-5A were also converted into fighters with the installation of D-12D engines and weapons. The aircraft were renamed P-1P.
P-1 "Hawk" in a small number sold abroad. Four cars were sold to Bolivia, eight P-1А-Chile in 1926 year. One aircraft was sold in Japan's 1927. In the same year, eight P-1 B were delivered to Chile. Later, apparently, several more Hawk fighters were made in Chile according to their model.
The P-1 in the original version had rather high flight characteristics, but as this type of development developed, the fighter's weight increased, and the characteristics fell. The P-1 was in service with the 27 and 94 fighter squadrons of the 1 fighter group at the Selfridge Field in Michigan, and later in the 17 squadron, where they were used before the 1930 of the year, when they were replaced with more advanced fighters.
Shuvalov D. Falcons of the Three Elements // Avio. No.3. C. 9-11.
Demin A, Kotelnikov V. Shanghai. Hawk / Avimaster. 2000. No.2. C. 10-12.
Shcherbakov V. Pioneer of Aviation of America // Technique and armament. 2007. No.4. C. 36-39.
Firsov A. US Fighters // Aviation Collection. No.13. C. 2-4.
Zharkova A. The Curtis Hawk Family // World Aviation. No.82. C. 3-5.
Subscribe and stay up to date with the latest news and the most important events of the day.