No. 7529. Curtiss 58 XF9C-1 Sparrowhawk (A-8731) US Navy
Photograph from USN, taken April 27, 1931

Curtiss 58 XF9C-1 Sparrowhawk

03/31/2008. Remarks by Jack McKillop: "On May 10, 1930, the USN issued a specification for a small carrier-based fighter. Three companies responded and the Navy signed contracts with them in June 1930. The three were General Aviation with their XFA-1; Berliner-Joyce Aircraft Co. with their XFJ-1; and this aircraft which made its first flight on February 13, 1931. It was found that the three aircraft were not suitable for carrier operations but another use soon use became evident.

During the 1920s, the US military was in a defensive posture in order to defend the country with the USN tasked with scouting the seas to ensure that they were safe. In order to do that, they had ordered two rigid scout airships, USS Akron (ZRS-4) and USS Macon (ZRS-5), which were to be commissioned in late 1931 and 1933 respectively. Both of these airships had been built with a hangar deck within the airship to house up to five small aircraft with a trapeze to launch and recover them.

The design of aircraft to fit in the airship had lagged so these three aircraft were examined but, the size of the hangar door had been arbitrarily designed and the only one of the three that fit was the Sparrowhawk. To test the concept of launching and recovering, this aircraft was fitted with a skyhook and transferred to Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, where it made it first hook-on with an experimental trapeze in the rigid airship USS Los Angeles (ZR-3) on October 27, 1931. After these successful tests, the Navy drew up a new series of specifications and a second prototype, the XF9C-2, was ordered.

After these tests, this aircraft was transferred to the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was scrapped there in January 1935 with 213 hours on the airframe."

Created March 31, 2008