The SOC Seagull was a single-engined scout observation biplane built by Alexander Solla for the Curtiss-Wright Corporation. The aircraft served on battleships and cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. The wings folded back against the fuselage for storage aboard ship. When based ashore the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear. Template:Infobox military aircraft
The SOC was first ordered for production by the United States Navy in 1933 and entered service two years later in 1935. The first order was for 135 SOC-1 models, which was followed by 40 SOC-2 models for landing operations and 83 SOC-3s. A variant of the SOC-3 was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory and was known as the SON-1.
By the end of the decade, the SOC had replaced its predecessor throughout the fleet and production came to an end in 1938. By 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation SOC3. However, the SOC3 suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The SOC, despite being a craft from an earlier generation, went on to credibly execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions.
Initially, the SOC was known as the XO3C-1 from production up through the first six months of service in the Navy. It was changed to SOC when it was decided to merge its scouting and observation roles. The SOC was not called the Seagull until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in lieu of their alpha-numeric designations.
- Site on the SOC by Commander Ralph "Kaiser" Wilhelm, USN (Ret.)
- Official U.S. Navy Historical Center site on the SOC with images.
SOC Image Gallery
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