Category Archives: Reconnaissance

Reconnaissance

Curtiss SO3C “Seamew” (Sword)

TYPE: Scouting and observation seaplane

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Ranger XV-770-8-8 inline air-cooled engine, rated at 600 hp

PERFORMANCE: 172 mph at 8,100 ft

COMMENT: The Curtiss SO3C “Seamew” was developed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation as a replacement for the Curtiss SOC “Seagull” as the US Navy’s’s standard floatplane scout. Curtiss named the SO3C the “Seamew” but in 1941 the US Navy began calling it by the name “Seagull”, the same name as the aircraft it replaced (the Curtiss SOC a biplane type), causing some confusion. The British Royal Navy kept the Curtiss name “Seamew” for the SO3C that they ordered. One of the US Navy’s main design requirements was that the SOC “Seagull’s” replacement had to be able to operate both from ocean vessels with a single center float and from land bases with the float replaced by a wheeled landing gear.
From the time it entered service the SO3C suffered two serious flaws: inflight stability problems and problems with the unique Ranger air-cooled, inverted V-shaped inline engine. The stability problem was mostly resolved with the introduction of upturned wingtips and a larger rear tail surface that extended over the rear observer’s cockpit. The additional tail surface was attached to the rear observer’s sliding canopy and pilots claimed there were still stability problems when the canopy was open. The canopy was often open because the aircraft’s main role was spotting. While the inflight stability problem was eventually addressed (although not fully solved), the Ranger XV-770 engine proved a dismal failure even after many attempted modifications. Poor flight performance and a poor maintenance record led to the SO3C being withdrawn from US Navy first line units by 1944. The older biplane Curtiss SOC “Seagull” was taken from stateside training units and restored to first-line service on many US Navy warships until the end of World War II. In total 795 Curtiss SO3C “Seamew’s”have been built (Ref.: 24).

Edo OSE-1(Frank Airmodel, Vacu formed)

TYPE: Shipboard scout floatplane

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

POWER PLANT: One Ranger V-770-8 air-cooled piston engine, rated at 550 hp, driving two-bladed propeller

PERFORMANCE: 198 mph

COMMENT: The Edo OSE was a 1940s American single-seat multi-role floatplane designed and manufactured by the Edo Aircraft Corporation. The Edo Aircraft Corporation was an established company that produced seaplane floats. In 1946, Edo designed its first aircraft, the Edo OSE. Two prototype aircraft designated XOSE-1 were built and flown in 1946. The XOSE-1 was a single-seat low-wing cantilever monoplane with a single float and fixed wingtip stabilizing floats. The wings could be folded for shipboard storage. The aircraft was designed for a variety of roles including observation and anti-submarine patrols. Unusually, it was designed to carry a rescue cell on the underwing hard points, which would be capable of carrying a single person when used for air-sea rescue. Eight production aircraft XOSE-1 were built to a United States Navy order but none were accepted into service. A two-seat training conversion was carried out as the XTE-1, but production TE-2 aircraft were cancelled (Ref.: 24).

Consolidated XP4Y-1 “Corregidor” (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Long-range maritime reconnaissance bomber flying boat

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of six to eight

POWER PLANT: Two Wright R-3350-8 Cyclone 18radial engines, rated at 2,300 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 247 mph at 13,600 ft

COMMENT:  The Consolidated XP4Y-1 shore-based patrol, torpedo-bomber and minelayer flying boat, unofficially dubbed “Corregidor”, was a military version of the Consolidated “Model 31”. The prototype of the Model 31 was completed in 1939, and was intended for both civil and military roles. It was intensively modified during its prolonged period of testing, eventually emerging in April 1942 as the XP4Y-1. The rear fuselage was redesigned to provide for the installation of a tail turret, the modified fuselage raised the tail assembly considerably, and, subsequently, the bow of the hull was extensively redesigned, a form of cuff being added, the retractable stabilizing floats were redesigned, and dummy gun turrets were fitted. An order for 200 aircraft was placed and a special plant was established at New Orleans for quantity production of the P4Y-1. But Wright R-3350 Cyclone power plant employed by the flying boat were needed more urgently for the Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” and, in consequence, during summer of 1943 production contracts for the P4Y-1 were cancelled, the New Orleans plant subsequently building the PBY “Catalina” (Ref.: 14).

Grumman TBM-3W2 Avenger (Airfix, Self-conversion)

TYPE: Anti-submarine search aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of three

POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20, rated at 1,900 hp

PERFORMANCE: 250 mph at 16,500 ft

COMMENT: During the closing stage of the hostilities in the Pacific area the Grumman Company resp. General Motors converted some TBF and TBM Avengers, respectively, into anti-submarine search and strike aircraft. The rear turret was removed and faired over and a large ventral radome, carrying a APS-20 radar, was mounted under the fuselage. By that the TBM-3 conversion as the first ship based airborne early warning control and relay platform. These search aircraft operated together with TBM-3S or TBM-3S-2 submarine-strike Avengers. These search-and-strike aircraft remained in operational service after the war until 1954. From 1950 onwards these Avengers were replaced by Grumman AF-2W “hunter” and Grumman AF-2S “killer” Guardians (Ref.:1)

Consolidated PB2Y-5 “Coronado” (Contrail Models, Vacu-formed)

TYPE: Patrol bomber flying-boat

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of ten

POWER PLANT: Four Pratt &Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp engines, rated at 1,200 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 213 mph at 20,000 ft

COMMENT: In June 1935 and July 1936, respectively, the US Navy ordered prototypes of large four-engine flying-boats in patrol bomber category from Sikorsky and Consolidated. The Consolidated design, Model 29,  made use of retractable wingtip floats similar to those on the Consolidated PBY “Catalina”, but in all other respects it was a wholly new design with high-mounted wing and a capacious hull with accommodation for a crew of ten.
The XPB2Y-1, as designated by the Navy, took-off first time on December 1937, but orders for the big new aircraft was delayed until mid 1939. First six production PB2Y-2s were delivered December 31, 1940, after a production contract for 210 PB2Y-3s was placed a month before. These “Coronados”, as the type was named, often carried ASV radar in a fairing just behind the cockpit. Several aircraft were redesigned and became PB2Y-5 and PB2Y-5R depending on the engines used. All “Coronados” were withdrawn from active service before the end of 1945. (Ref.  22)

Martin PBM-3S “Mariner” ( Rare Planes Vacforms, Vacu Formed)

TYPE: Patrol and Long-range Anti-submarine Flying-boat

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of nine

POWER PLANT: Two Wright R-2600-12 “Cyclone 14” engines, rated at 1,200 h.p. each

PERFORMANCE: 198 m.p.h. at 13,000 ft

COMMENT: This long-range anti-submarine variant of the basic PBM-3 carried a AN/APS-15 radar in a large housing above and behind the cockpit. Up to 2,000 lb bombs or depth-charges could be carried. A total of 156 of this version were built.

Grumman AF-2W Guardian (Airmodel, Vacu)

TYPE: Anti-submarine search aircraft

ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four

POWER PLANT: Pratt & Whitney R.2800-48W Double Wasp, rated at 2,400 h.p.

PERFORMANCE:  317 m.p.h. at 16,000 ft

COMMENT: Originally designed as a replacement of the highly successful Grumman TBF Avenger anti-submarine search aircraft. In place of defensive armament the new torpedo-bomber had a Westinghouse 19XB turbojet in the tail to give it a high escape speed. Later the the design was revised and a large ventral radar set was built in. In that configuration the aircraft was used as a hunter in cooperation with the Grumman AF-2S as a killer. A total of 153 AF-2W were built.

Curtiss SOC-2 “Seagull” (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Scout observation airplane, trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-1340-18 radial engine, rated at 550 hp

PERFORMANCE: 165 mph at 5,000 ft

COMMENT: The Curtiss SOC “Seagull” was an American single-engine scout observation biplane aircraft, designed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the US Navy. 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 delivered  from factory or based ashore or on carriers the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear.
The SOC was ordered for production by the US Navy in 1933 and first entered service 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
The SOC was not called the “Seagull” until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in addition to their alpha-numeric designations (Ref.:24).

Curtiss SOC-3 “Seagull” (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Scout observation float-plane, trainer

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-1340-18 radial engine, rated at 550 hp

PERFORMANCE: 165 mph at 5,000 ft

COMMENT: The Curtiss SOC “Seagull” was an American single-engine scout observation biplane aircraft, designed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the US Navy. 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 or on carriers the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear.
The SOC was ordered for production by the US Navy in 1933 and first entered service 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 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U “Kingfisher” and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation Curtiss SO3C “Seamew”. The SO3C, however, suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The SOC, despite belonging to an earlier generation, went on to execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions.
The SOC was not called the “Seagull” until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in addition to their alpha-numeric designations.
When operating as a seaplane, returning SOCs would land on the relatively smooth ocean surface created on the sheltered side of the vessel as it made a wide turn, after which the aircraft would be winched back onto the deck.
When the SOC was replaced by the OS2U “Kingfisher”, most remaining airframes were converted into trainers; they remained in use until 1945. With the failure of the Curtiss SO3C “Seamew”, many SOCs in second line service were returned to frontline units starting in late 1943. They saw service aboard warships in the combat zone for the rest of World War II. This is one of the few instances in aviation history in which an older aircraft type, that was retired or sent to second line service, replaced the new aircraft type that was intended to replace it (Ref.: 24).