Category Archives: Observation

Observation

Curtiss SC-1 “Seahawk” (SMER Models)

TYPE: Scout seaplane

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot only

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 SC-2; 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).

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).

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)