POWER PLANT: One Wright R-1820-76 “Cyclone” radial engine, rated at 1,425 hp
PERFORMANCE: 315 mph
COMMENT: Last of a long line of US Navy scouting airplanes designed to serve aboard battleships as well as carriers and from land bases, the Curtis SC-1 Seahawk originated to a specification issued to industry in June 1942. The requirement was for a convertible land or floatplane with a much improved performance over the observation/scouts then in service and with provision for catapult launching.
The Curtiss design proposal in response to the specification was quickly adopted by the Navy, which issued a letter of intent on October,1942 and a contract for two prototypes on March 1943, with the designation XSC-1. A production order for 500 SC-1 followed on June 1943, and the first XSC-1 made its first flight on February 1944. Flight testing continued through April, when the last of the seven pre-production aircraft took to the air.
The first serial production “Seahawks” were delivered on October 1944, to the USS CB-2 Guam, an Alaska-class large cruiser. She carried four Seahawk floatplanes, housed in two hangars with a pair of aircraft catapults mounted amidships.
All 577 Seahawk aircraft eventually produced for the Navy were delivered on conventional landing gear and flown to the appropriate Naval Air Station, where floats were fitted for service as needed.
Nine further prototypes were later built as Curtis SC-2 Seahawk, with a more powerful engine, a modified cockpit with a blown canopy, a second seat in the fuselage below the pilot with two little windows on both sides and a redesigned tail plane to improve stability.
Series production was not undertaken because by the end of the war, seaplanes were becoming less desirable, being replaced soon afterward by helicopters (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Junior air-cooled radial piston engine, rated at 450 hp
PERFORMANCE: 106 mph
COMMENT: The Sikorsky R-5 (after WW II designated H-5 and also known as S-48, S-51 and by company designation VS-327) is a helicopter developed by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation in 1943. It was used by the United States Army Airforce (USAAF), later U.S. Airforce (USAF) as well as the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard (with the designations HO2S and HO3S).
It was designed to provide a helicopter having greater useful load, endurance, speed, and service ceiling than the Sikorsky R-4. The R-5 differed from the R-4 by having an increased rotor diameter and a new, longer fuselage for two persons in tandem, though it retained the R-4’s tailwheel-type landing gear. Larger than the R-4 or the later R-6, the R-5 was fitted with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior 450-hp radial engine, and quickly proved itself the most successful of the three types.
The first XR-5 of four ordered made its initial flight on August 1943. In March 1944, the Army Air Forces ordered 26 YR-5As for service testing. Additionally, the U.S. Navy ordered three R-5As as the HO2S-1 for evaluation tests.
In February 1945, the first YR-5A was delivered. This order was followed by a production contract for 100 R-5s, outfitted with racks for two litters (stretchers), but only 34 were actually delivered. Of these, fourteen were the R-5A, basically identical with the YR-5A. The remaining twenty were built as the three-place R-5D, which had a widened cabin with a two-place rear bench seat and a small nose wheel added to the landing gear, and could be optionally fitted with a rescue hoist and an auxiliary external fuel tank. Five of the service-test YR-5As helicopters were later converted into dual-control YR-5Es.
Sikorsky soon developed a modified version of the R-5, the S-51, featuring a greater rotor diameter, greater carrying capacity and gross weight, and a redesigned tricycle landing gear configuration; this first flew on February 1946. With room for three passengers plus pilot, the S-51 was initially intended to appeal to civilian as well as military operators, and was the first helicopter to be sold to a commercial user. Eleven S-51s were ordered by the USAF and designated the R-5F, while ninety went to the Navy as the HO3S-1, commonly referred to as the ‘Horse’.
By the time production ceased in 1951, more than 300 examples of all types of the H-5 had been built (Ref.: 24).
POWERPLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800-44W Double Wasp radial engines, rated at 2,400 hp each plus one Allison J33-A-10 turbojet engine, rated at 2,040 kp thrust
PERFORMANCE: 471 mph
COMMENT: The North American AJ-1 “Savage” was designed shortly after WW II to carry atomic bombs and this meant that the bomber was the heaviest aircraft thus far designed to operate from an aircraft carrier.
At the end of World War II, the U.S. Navy began a design competition on August 1945 for a carrier-based bomber which could carry a 4,536 kg bomb that was won by North American Aviation. Later that year, the Navy decided that it needed to be able to deliver atomic bombs and that the AJ Savage design would be adapted to accommodate the latest Mark 4 nuclear bomb the next step in development from the more sophisticated imploding Plutonium sphere design Mark 3 “Fat Man” used on Nagasaki. A contract for three XAJ-1 prototypes and a static test airframe was awarded on June 1946. The first prototype made its maiden flight two years later on July 1948. That same year the US Navy began an interim capability program employing the Lockheed P-2 “Neptune” carrying a crash program reproduction of the smaller simpler all uranium ‘gun’ design Mark 2 “Little Boy” nuclear bomb as its first carrier launched nuclear bomber aircraft until the “Savage” was in service. The “Neptune” launched using Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) rockets but could not land on existing carriers; if launched they had to either ditch at sea after its mission or land at a friendly airbase.
The AJ-1 was a three-seat, high-wing monoplane with tricycle landing gear. To facilitate carrier operations, the outer wing panels and the tailfin could be manually folded. The two piston engines were mounted in nacelles under each wing with a large turbocharger fitted inside each engine nacelle, and an Allison J33-A-10 turbojet that was fitted in the rear fuselage. Only intended to be used for takeoff and maximum speed near the target, the jet was fed by an air inlet on top of the fuselage that was normally kept closed to reduce drag. To simplify the fuel system, both types of engines used the same grade of avgas. Self-sealing fuel tanks were housed in the fuselage and each wing. The aircraft usually carried 300-US-gallon tip tanks and it could house three fuel tanks in the bomb bay with a total capacity of 1,640 US gallons. Other than its 5,400 kg bombload, the bomber was unarmed.
Two of the three prototypes crashed during testing, but their loss did not materially affect the development of the aircraft as the first batch of “Savages” had been ordered on October 1947. The most significant difference between the XAJ-1 and the production aircraft was the revision of the cockpit to accommodate a third crewman in a separate compartment. The first flight by a production aircraft occurred in May 1949 and Fleet Composite Squadron FIVE (VC-5) became the first squadron to receive a “Savage” in September. The squadron participated in testing and evaluating the aircraft together with the Naval Air Test Center (NATC) in order to expedite the “Savage’s” introduction into the fleet. The first carrier takeoff and landing made by the bomber took place from the USS “Coral Sea” on April and August 1950, respectively.
When first deployed, the AJ-1 was too large and heavy to be used by any American aircraft carrier except for the “Midway” class. The modernized “Essex” class carriers with reinforced decks and the very large “Forrestal” class could also handle the “Savage”. The aircraft was not popular aboard ship as it was too big and cumbersome that it complicated any other flight operations the ship was required to conduct. One problem was that the wings had to be folded one at a time by a crewman on top of the fuselage with a portable hydraulic pump, a time-consuming process, so that the bomber could be moved out of the way to allow other aircraft to land or take off. One pilot reported that the AJ-1 was “a dream to fly and handled like a fighter”, when everything was working properly. The aircraft, however, was not very reliable, possibly because it was rushed into production before all the problems could be ironed out. The bomber was replaced by the Douglas A3D “Skywarrior” beginning in 1957. In total140 aircraft were built plus three prototypes (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines, rated at 2,100 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 205 mph
COMMENT: The Martin PBM-5 “Mariner” was an American patrol bomber flying boat of WW II. It was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY “Catalina” in service with the US Navy.
Designed in 1937, the Model 162 continued the rivalry which had sprung up between Martin and Consolidated by challenging the latter company’s PBY “Catalina”. A somewhat later design than the PBY, the Martin 162 was in due course to demonstrate a marked superiority of performance, an although it served in smaller quantities than the PBY during WW II, it continued to give important service for many years after 1945.
The Model 162 design featured a deep hull with a gull wing and two Wright “Cyclone” engines. To test the handling qualities of the design, Martin built a single-seat, quarter-scale model known as the Model 162A, an on June 1937, the US Navy places a contract for a single full-scale prototype, to be designated XPBM-1. First flown on February 1939, the XPBM-1 had 1,600 hp Wright R-2600-6 engines an provision for nose and dorsal turrets plus additional gun positions at the waist and tail position. The XPBM-1 was designed to carry 2,000 lb bombs or depth-charges. It had retractable stabilizing floats under the wing and a flat tailplane with outrigged fins. Later, dihedral was added to the tailplane, canting the fins inward to give the Martin flying boat one of its most striking characteristics. At the end of 1937 the Navy ordered 20 production model PBM-1s, for which the name “Mariner” was eventually chosen. All aircraft were completed by April 1941 and went into service during 1941.
On November 1941, orders were placed with Martin for 379 PBM-3 “Mariners” and these appeared, from 1942 onwards, in several different versions. All “Mariners” from the -3 model onward had fixed, strut-braced wing floats and lengthened engine nacelles, the latter providing stowage for bombs or depth-charges. The basic PBM-3 had Wright R-2600-12 engines, and variants includes 50 unarmed PBM-3R transports with seats for 20 passengers, 274 PBM3Cs with standardized US/British equipment and 201 PBM-3Dswith Wright R-2600-22 engines and improved armament and armor protection. Many of the PBM-3Cs and -3Ds carried search radar in a large housing above and behind the cockpit, and experience with the use of this radar led to development in 1944 of a long-range anti-submarine version, the Martin PBM-3S. A total of 156 of the latter variant were delivered, with R-2600-12 engines.
In 1943, the Martin XPBM-5 appeared with 2,100 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-22 or -34 engines, and production contracts were placed for this variant in January 1944. The PBM-5, delivered from August 1944 to the end of the war, had eight 0.50-in machine guns and AN/APS-15 radar. They were used as long-range reconnaissance aircraft and for the anti-submarine role. Production totaled 631 aircraft (Ref.: 23).
ACCOMMODATION: Crew of four plus 25 troops or up to 4,500 kg cargo
POWER PLANT: Four Pratt & Whitney R-1820-94 radial engines with General Electric turbo-superchargers, rated at 1,350 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 300 mph at 25,000 ft
COMMENT: The Consolidated RY-3 was a troop and cargo transport aircraft built for the United States Navy on the basis of the patrol bomber Convair PB4Y-2 “Privateer”. This, on the other hand, was a US Navy derivative of the famous USAAF Consolidated B-24 “Liberator” heavy bomber.
In 1942, an urgent need was recognized for a heavy cargo and personnel transport with longer range and better high-altitude performance than the Douglas C-47 “Skytrain”, the most widely available USAAF transport aircraft at the time. So the Consolidated Aircraft Company hastily designed a cargo and transport variant of the “Liberator” bomber under the designation Consolidated C-87 “Liberator Express”. Production began in 1942 and a total of 287 C-87s were built alongside the B-24 at the Consolidated Aircraft plant in Fort Worth, Texas. The C-87 could be fitted with removable seats and racks to carry personnel or litters in place of cargo. In its final configuration, the C-87 could carry between 20 and 25 passengers or 4,500 kg of cargo. Because of war production bottlenecks and shortages, many C-87 aircraft were fitted with turbo-superchargers producing lower boost pressure and power than those fitted to B-24s destined for combat use, and ceiling and climb rate were accordingly adversely affected.
Despite its shortcomings and unpopularity among its crews, the C-87 was valued for the reliability of its Pratt & Whitney engines, superior speed that enabled it to mitigate significantly the effect of head and cross winds, a service ceiling that allowed it to surmount most weather fronts, and range that permitted its crews to fly “pressure-front” patterns that chased favorable winds. The C-87 was never fully displaced on the air routes by the Douglas C-54 “Skymaster” and Curtiss C-46 “Commando”, which offered similar performance combined with greater reliability and more benign flight characteristics.
One of the last developments of the basic USAAF Consolidated B-24 “Liberator” bomber design was a Navy contracted, single tail version with an extended fuselage. Built in San Diego its USN designation was Consolidated PB4Y-2 “Privateer” and the aircraft’ design based on the Consolidated PB4Y-1, the US Navy version of the B-24 “Liberator”.
The “Privateer” was externally similar to the “Liberator”, but the fuselage was longer, and had a tall single vertical stabilizer rather than the PB4Y-1’s twin tail configuration. The single vertical tail was adopted from the USAAF’s canceled B-24N design (and was slightly taller on the “Privateer”) because it would increase stability at low to medium altitudes for maritime patrol.
39 out of totally built 739 „Privateers“ were converted for transport duties as Consolidated RY-3, and were used by the RAF Transport Command No. 231 Squadron, U.S. Marine Corps, and one was used by the RCAF (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: Two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 “Twin-Wasp” radial engines, rated at 1,200 hp each
PERFORMANCE: 196 mph at 6.700 ft
COMMENT: The PBY was originally designed as a patrol bomber, an aircraft with a long operational range intended to locate and attack enemy transport ships at sea in order to disrupt enemy supply lines. With a mind to a potential conflict in the Pacific Ocean, where troops would require resupply over great distances, the US Navy in the 1930s invested millions of dollars in developing long-range flying boats for this purpose. Flying boats had the advantage of not requiring runways, in effect having the entire ocean available. Several different flying boats were adopted by the Navy, but the PBY was the most widely used and produced.
Although slow and ungainly, Consolidated PBY “Catalinas” distinguished themselves in World War II. Allied forces used them successfully in a wide variety of roles for which the aircraft was never intended. PBYs are remembered for their rescue role, in which they saved the lives of thousands of aircrew downed over water. “Catalina” airmen called their aircraft the “Cat” on combat missions and “Dumbo” in air-rescue service.
Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their new designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-1, respectively. Consolidated’s XP3Y-1 was an evolution of the XPY-1 design that had originally competed unsuccessfully for the P3M contract two years earlier and of the XP2Y design that the Navy had authorized for a limited production run. Although the Douglas aircraft was a good design, the Navy opted for Consolidated because the projected cost was only $90,000 per aircraft.
Consolidated XP3Y-1 design (company Model 28) had a parasol wing with external bracing struts, mounted on a pylon over the fuselage. Wingtip stabilizing floats were retractable in flight to form streamlined wingtips and had been licensed from the British Saunders-Roe company. The two-step hull design was similar to that of the P2Y, but the Model 28 had a cantilever cruciform tail unit instead of a strut-braced twin tail. Cleaner aerodynamics gave the Model 28 better performance than earlier designs. Construction is all-metal, stressed-skin, of aluminum sheet, except the ailerons and wing trailing edge, which are fabric covered
The Consolidated XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on March 1935, after which it was transferred to the US Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 was a significant performance improvement over previous patrol flying boats. The Navy requested further development in order to bring the aircraft into the category of patrol bomber, and in October 1935, the prototype was returned to Consolidated for further work, including installation of 900 hp R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces which resolved a problem with the tail becoming submerged on takeoff, which had made lift-off impossible under some conditions. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 miles was achieved.
Around 4.051 aircraft were built, and these operated in nearly all operational theatres of World War II. The “Catalina” served with distinction and played a prominent and invaluable role against the Japanese. This was especially true during the first year of the war in the Pacific, because the Consolidated PBY “Catalina” and the Boeing B-17 “Flying Fortress” were the only aircraft available with the range to be effective in the Pacific.
The Consolidated PBY “Catalina” was built in seven major variants, the last, PBY-6A, was equipped with search radar in a radome above the cockpit, a taller fin and rudder and amphibious undercarriage (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-1820-62 “Cyclone” radial engine, rated at 1,350 hp
PERFORMANCE: 125 mph
COMMENT: The Curtiss SC “Seahawk” was a scout seaplane designed by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company for the US Navy. The existing Curtiss SO3C “Seamew” and the Vought OS2U “Kingfisher” were 1937 designs that, by 1942, needed to be replaced.
Work began in June 1942, following a US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics request for scout seaplane proposals. Curtiss submitted the “Seahawk” design on 1 August 1942, with a contract for two prototypes and five service test aircraft awarded on 25 August that year. A production order for 500 SC-1s followed in June 1943, prior to the first flight of the prototypes.
While only intended to seat the pilot, a bunk was provided in the aft fuselage for rescue or personnel transfer. Two 12.7 mm M2 Browning machine guns were fitted in the wings, and two underwing hardpoints allowed carriage of 113 kg bombs or, on the right wing, surface-scan radar. The main float, built by Edo Company was designed to incorporate a bomb bay. But this suffered substantial leaks when used in that fashion, and was modified to carry an auxiliary fuel tank.
The first flight of a prototype XSC-1 took place on February 1944. Flight testing continued through April, when the last of the seven pre-production aircraft took to the air. Nine further prototypes were later built, with a second seat and modified cockpit, designated Curtiss SC-2 “Seahawk”; series production was not undertaken.
The first serial production “Seahawks” were delivered on October 1944, to the USS CB-2 “Guam”. All 577 aircraft eventually produced for the Navy were delivered on conventional landing gear and flown to the appropriate Naval Air Station, where floats were fitted for service as needed.
Capable of being fitted with either float or wheeled landing gear, the “Seahawk” was arguably America’s best floatplane scout of WW II. However, its protracted development time meant it entered service too late to see significant action in the war. It was not until June 1945, during the pre-invasion bombardment of Borneo, that the “Seahawk” was involved in military action. By the end of the war, seaplanes were becoming less desirable, with the “Seahawk” being replaced soon afterward by helicopters (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20 “Twin Cyclone” radial engine, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 295 mph at 16,700 ft
COMMENT: The Curtiss SB2C “Helldiver” was developed to replace the Douglas SBD “Dauntless”. It was a much larger aircraft, able to operate from the latest aircraft carriers and carry a considerable array of armament. It featured an internal bomb bay that reduced drag when carrying heavy ordnance. Saddled with demanding requirements set forth by both the U.S. Marines and United States Army Air Forces, the manufacturer incorporated features of a “multi-role” aircraft into the design.
The first prototype made its maiden flight on December 1940. It crashed on February 1941 when its engine failed on approach, but Curtiss was asked to rebuild it. The fuselage was lengthened and a larger tail was fitted, while an autopilot was fitted to help the poor stability. The revised prototype flew again on October 1941, but was destroyed when its wing failed during diving tests on December 1941.
Large-scale production had already been ordered on November 1940, but a large number of modifications were specified for the production model. Fin and rudder area were increased, fuel capacity was increased, self-sealing tanks were added and the fixed armament was doubled to four 12.7 mm machine guns in the wings, compared with the prototype’s two cowling guns. The SB2C-2 was built with larger fuel tanks, improving its range considerably.
The program suffered so many delays that the Grumman TBF “Avenger” entered service before the “Helldiver”, even though the “Avenger” had begun its development two years later. Nevertheless, production tempo accelerated with production at Columbus, Ohio and two Canadian factories.
The U.S. Navy would not accept the SB2C until 880 modifications to the design and the changes on the production line had been made, delaying the Curtiss “Helldiver’s” combat debut until November 1943. Among its major faults, the “Helldiver” was underpowered, had a shorter range than the Douglas SBD, was equipped with an unreliable electrical system, and was often poorly manufactured. The solution to these problems began with the introduction of the SB2C-3 beginning in 1944, which used the R-2600-20 Twin Cyclone engine with 1,900 hp and Curtiss’ four-bladed propeller. This substantially solved the chronic lack of power that had plagued the aircraft
In operational experience, it was found that the U.S. Navy’s Grumman F6F “Hellcat” and Vought F4U “Corsair” fighters were able to carry an equally heavy bomb load against ground targets and were vastly more capable of defending themselves against enemy fighters. The “Helldiver”, however, could still deliver ordnance with more precision against specific targets and its two-seat configuration permitted a second set of eyes. A “Helldiver” also has a significant advantage in range over a fighter while carrying a bombload, which is extremely important in naval operations.
The advent of air-to-ground rockets ensured that the SB2C-4 was the last purpose-built dive bomber produced. Rockets allowed precision attack against surface naval and land targets, while avoiding the stresses of near-vertical dives and the demanding performance requirements that they placed on dive bombers.
Crew nicknames for the aircraft included the “Big-Tailed Beast”, or just the derogatory “Beast” due to its size, weight, and reduced range compared to the SBD it replaced. A total of 7,140 Curtiss SB2C “Helldivers” were produced in World War II (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Pratt & Whitney R-2800-6 “Double Wasp” radial engine, rated at 2,000 hp
PERFORMANCE: 306 mph
COMMENT: The original design was not by Consolidated Aircraft, but rather by Vought, who designed the XTBU-1 “Sea Wolf” to a 1939 US Navy requirement. The first prototype flew two weeks after Pearl Harbor. Its performance was deemed superior to the Grumman TBF-1 “Avenger” and the Navy placed an order for 1,000 aircraft.
Several unfortunate incidents intervened; the prototype was damaged in a rough arrested landing trial, and when repaired a month later was again damaged in a collision with a training aircraft. Once repaired again, the prototype was accepted by the Navy. However, by this time Vought was heavily overcommitted to other contracts, especially for the F4U “Corsair” fighter, and had no production capacity. It was arranged that Consolidated Vultee would produce the aircraft as the TBY-1, but this had to wait until the new production facility in Allentown, Pennsylvania was complete, which took until late 1943.
The production TBY-2’s were radar-equipped, with a radome under the right-hand wing. The first aircraft flew on 20 August 1944. By this time though, the Grumman TBF-3 “Avenger” equipped every torpedo squadron in the Navy, and there was no need for the “Sea Wolf”; in addition, numerous small problems delayed entry into service so the aircraft never saw combat. Orders for 1,000 aircraft were cancelled after production started, and the 180 built were used for training only (Ref.: 24).
POWER PLANT: One Wright R-2600-20 “Twin Cyclone” radial engine, rated at 1,900 hp
PERFORMANCE: 276 mph at 16,500 ft
COMMENT: By 1943, Grumman began to slowly phase out production of the TBF “Avenger” to produce Grumman F6F “Hellcat” fighters, and the Eastern Aircraft Division of General Motors took over production, with these aircraft being designated TBM. The Eastern Aircraft plant was located in Ewing, NJ. Grumman delivered a TBF-1, held together with sheet metal screws, so that the automotive engineers could disassemble it, a part at a time, and redesign the aircraft for automotive style production. This aircraft was known as the “P-K Avenger” (P-K = Parker-Kalon, manufacturer of sheet metal screws). Starting in mid-1944, the TBM-3 began production with a more powerful power plant and wing hard points for drop tanks and rockets. The dash-3 was the most numerous of the “Avengers” with about 4,664 produced. However, most of the “Avengers” in service were dash-1s until near the end of the war in 1945.
Besides the traditional surface role (torpedoing surface ships), “Avengers” claimed about 30 submarine kills. They were one of the most effective sub-killers in the Pacific theatre, as well as in the Atlantic, when escort carriers were finally available to escort Allied convoys. There, the “Avengers” contributed to the warding off of German submarines while providing air cover for the convoys (Ref.: 24).
Scale 1:72 aircraft models of World War II
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