05/31/2009. In the spring of 1918, Curtiss set about to design a fighter aircraft which was destined to shatter almost every existing speed and altitude record. The Curtiss 18-B Hornet (3-view) and 18-T Wasp two-seaters were the first practical Curtiss fighter aircraft. These incredible ships were the fastest, most heavily armed, fastest climbing pursuit ships of their day. These new aircraft were developed around the equally new 400 hp Kirkham K-12 engines.
The 18-T was a triplane while the 18-B, with the same landing gear, tail assembly and higb1y streamlined fuselage, was a biplane. Armament consisted of two fixed 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns firing forward and the observer had a pair of 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine guns on a flexible mount. Two additional guns could be mounted to fire downward through the floor.
The extremely clean fuselage was constructed of cross-laminated strips of wood veneer formed on a mold and then attached to the inner structure. The construction technique was a refinement of that used on the big Curtiss flying boats.
With the Armistice, plans for large-scale production of these machines was canceled. At the time of the Armistice, one 18-B and one 18-T had been delivered to the USAAS, s/n 40065 and two 18-Ts delivered to the USN, s/n A-3325 and A-3326. The 18-T was flown in two versions, known as the 18-T-1 (one-bay, span 31 ft 11 in, 9.73 m) and the 18-T-2 (two-bay, span 40 ft 7 in, 12.37 m).
Piloted by Curtiss chief test pilot Roland Rohlfs, the 18-T was a record setter. On August 19, 1918, an official world speed record of 163.1 mph (262.4 kmh) with a full military load of 1,067 lb (484 kg) was established, on July 25, 1919, an American altitude record of 30,100 ft (9,174 m) was set, while on September 18, 1919, the world altitude record of 34,610 ft (10,549 m) was set.