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Curtiss Model F

From PlaneSpottingWorld, for aviation fans everywhere
Models E and F
Type Utility flying boat
Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Designed by Glenn Curtiss
Maiden flight 12 January 1912
Primary users United States Navy
Russian Navy
Italian Navy
Number built over 150

The Curtiss Models E and 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.

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 French intervention in Mexico.

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 licence by the Naval Aircraft Factory. A small number of Model Es and Fs were also purchased by the US Army.

The Russian Navy puchased 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 Bovisia, near Milan. The first of these was demonstrated to the Italian Navy on Lake Como on 22 September 1914.


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.
Judson Triplane
Enlarged custom triplane version.
McCormick Flying Boat
Enlarged, five-seat custom version for Harold McCormick.


Template:Country data Italy
Template:Country data Russian Empire
Template:Country data United States

Specifications (typical)



  • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, 193, 278. 
  • World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing, File 891 Sheet 43. 
  • (1987) The Curtiss Flyleaf. Hammondsport, New York: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Local History. 
  • Авиация A-Z
  • Уголок неба
  • Aerofiles

External links

See also

Template:Curtiss aircraft

de:Curtiss F

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Curtiss Model F".