Saturday, February 9, 2019

Curtiss NC-4 Flying Boat

08 Nov 18:

"The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, albeit not non-stop. The aircraft was designed by Glenn Curtiss and his team, and manufactured by Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, with the hull built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Corporation in Bristol, Rhode Island. The design requirement emerged during WWI, the US Navy needed anti-submarine aircraft on the Eastern side of the Atlantic and a safe way to get them there, hence the need for an aircraft that could cross the Atlantic on it sown versus being shipped across.
In May 1919, a crew of United States Navy aviators flew the NC-4 from New York State to Lisbon, Portugal, over the course of 19 days. This included time for stops of numerous repairs and for crewmen's rest, with stops along the way in Massachusetts, Nova Scotia (on the mainland), Newfoundland, and twice in the Azores Islands. Then its flight from the Azores to Lisbon completed the first transatlantic flight between North America and Europe, and two more flights from Lisbon to northwestern Spain to Plymouth, England, completed the first flight between North America and Great Britain."

We've been to see her in the Pensacola Naval Aviation Museum and she is in beautiful shape.

(Image Credit: Small Boat Restoration)

From Catalogue Raisonne:
Name: [NC-4 Seaplane Hull]
Type: Navy F-5-L Seaplane
Designed by: Curtiss, Glenn
Contract: 1918
Construction: Wood, Sitka Spruce hull planks, Ash
LOA: 45' (13.72m)
Beam: 10' (3.05m)
Hull Weight: 2,800 lbs
Displ.: 28,00 lbs (1,270 kg)
Propulsion: N/A
Built for: U.S. Navy
Current owner: Smithsonian Institution, on loan to National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, FL (last reported 2018 at age 100)

Trivia bits:
-The designation NC came from the cooperative effort of the Navy (N) and Curtiss (C) to build the aircraft.
-Tow other Nancies (NCs) attempted the flight, but did not complete it. NC-1 was lost at sea, crew rescued. NC-3 was forced to land just outside the Azores and was damaged, the crew sailed her into port through gale force winds and 30-40 foot seas.
-The flight covered 3936 miles with 52 hours 31 minutes of flight time over 19 days.
-Chief Machinist Mate Eugene Rhoads was a pilot as well, but not a designated Naval Aviator. He went on to a fine career as a pilot.
-Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, a builder of the finest ocean crossing boats, built the hull.
-The engines' fuel supply is gravity fed. Little propellers behind the center Liberty V-12 engines are part of a windmill pump system that pumps fuel from the main tanks up to the gravity tank in the upper wing.

-The aircraft had an intercommunications system.
-NC-4 is so cool that she has a march written for her!

From the HMCo Construction records, several flying boat hulls on order as well.

On the bow there is a night landing flare system, with a button inside the Navigator's compartment to fire them. There are several reports of the flares being inadvertently fired during ground service.

(Video Credit: Office of Information, US Naval Photographic Center)

Take a virtual flight in NC-4, through the magic of the game physics sandbox game Garry's Mod.

08 Fe 19:

NC-4 arrived in Plymouth, England on May 31, 1919 and tied up at the Barbican in Sutton Harbour. NC-4's arrival was scheduled as a tribute to the Mayflower voyage, there is a commemorative plaque placed next to the Mayflower Steps, where the Pilgrims set off for the New World in 1620. Our friend Doug E. snapped this photo of the plaque.

If you'd like to own a piece of the wing fabric, contact Mike at Aviation Relic Prints. We just received our square of wing fabric, relic print and historical information, a fantastic piece of flying boat history.

We are gathering information for an article, if you have any stories or photos from folks who built, maintained or flew the aircraft we'd love to hear them and add to the historical record. Leave a note below!

HMCo #341p Sea Plane Hull NC-4
HMCo #341p Sea Plane Hull NC-4 (1918, Extant); Navy Seaplane (hull only) designed by Curtiss, Glenn; built for U.S. Navy
Office of Information, US Naval Photographic Center. The Great Flight. 1970.
NC-4 Wikipedia
Silberg and Haas. 2011. Developing the Navy’s NC Flying Boats: Transforming Aeronautical Engineering for
the First Transatlantic Flight

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