RAY CRUPI COLLECTION
No. 9971. Curtiss 73 XF12C-1 (9225) US Navy
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 2644

Curtiss 73 XF12C-1

08/31/2010. A Navy contract, dated June 30, 1932, with the Curtiss company produced the radical XF12C-1: their first monoplane fighter. The carrier-based aircraft was filled with innovations, however it was a two-seater, which effectively eliminated any pretense at agility. Its swept-back parasol wing spanned 41 ft 6 in (12.65 m) and was supported by long, drag-producing struts. To allow the XF12C-1 to be stowed aboard an aircraft carrier, Curtiss introduced the first folding wing mechanism ever fitted to a fighter aircraft. Another interesting feature was the landing gear which retracted into the fuselage.

Fitted with a 625 hp Wright SGR-1510-92 engine, the XF12C-1 first flew in July 1933. It proved itself to be quite fast during tests at Anacostia, in the following October and November, recording a maximum speed of 217.4 mph (349.9 kmh). Because of slots and flaps, it had excellent landing characteristics, however, it was not accepted as a fighter simply because of its sluggishness.

The Navy was aware of the aircraft's good points and it was considered for a scout assignment. With a Wright R-1820-80 Cyclone and revised cowling, it was redesignated the XS4C-1 in December 1933. In January 1934 there was still another turn-around and the airplane was renamed XSBC-1 (for Scout Bomber). During tests on June 14, 1934, the XSBC-1 crashed near Lancaster, New York and was promptly rebuilt. In September, the wing folding mechanism failed, the wing swept backward and the airplane crashed again.

A new prototype ordered in April 1935 with the same USN BuNo. 9225, but this time, Curtiss reverted to the biplane wing and the aircraft became the XSBC-2, first flown on December 9, 1935, powered by a 700 hp XR-1510-12 engine. In March 1936 it was re-engined with a Pratt & Whitney R-1535-82 Wasp as the XSBC-3. In August, Curtiss perseverance paid off with an order for eighty-three SBC-3 Helldivers with R-1535-94 engines.

Created August 31, 2010