04/30/2012. This diminutive biplane fighter occupies a special place in the history of US Naval aviation, for it was the first carrier-based aeroplane specifically designed for the purpose. Designed by the Bureau of Aeronautics, the TS-1 was selected for production and a contract for 34 TS-1s (BuNo.
A-6248 to A-6270; A-6305 to A-6315) was awarded to Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company under the prevailing policy of having the industry build Navy-designed aircraft.
An order for five (BuNo. A-6300 to A-6304) was given to the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) to be able to compare costs with the Curtiss-built aircraft. Some fuselage and tail structure details differences existed between the Curtiss- and NAF-built aircraft. The NAF aircraft served in a variety of roles, including developing carrier landing system hardware, while two served as general purpose aircraft at NAS Pensacola.
The first TS-1 appeared in May 1922, two months after the Navy's first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley (CV-1) had been commissioned. It was powered by a 200 hp Lawrance J-1 air-cooled radial engine that was later to become the Wright Whirlwind. The TS-1 was designed to operate as a twin-float seaplane or on a normal wheel chassis. The fuselage was centered between the wings and fuel was carried in a thickened center section of the lower wing. Two 0.30 in (7.62 mm) Browning machineguns were synchronized to fire through the propeller.
The first of the Curtiss-built TS-1s reached the Langley in December 1922. In addition to operating from the carrier deck, the TS-1s served for several years in floatplane configuration aboard destroyers, cruisers and battleships. No catapults were carried by these ships, the aircraft being slung over the side by cranes to operate from the water. They were retrieved the same way. Squadron VO-1 operated TS-1s this way from 1922 and VF-1 flew its float-equipped TS-1s from battleships for a time in 1925-1926. VF-1 also operated TS-1s on wheels from the Langley.
The NAF built four improved versions; two TS-2s (BuNo. A-6446, A-6447) with 220 hp Aeromarine U-8-D engines and two TS-3s (BuNo. A-6448, A-6449) with 180 hp Wright E-2 engines. The last TS-3 was modified for the 1922 Curtiss Marine Trophy race by a change of aerofoil section on the wings and redesignated TR-2. Unsuccessful in this contest, it was then extensively modified to incorporate a more streamlined fuselage and had the upper wing lowered to the top of the fuselage to serve as a high-speed trainer for the Navy's 1923 Schneider Cup team, redesignated TR-3A.
The final step in the TS development came when the Navy awarded Curtiss a contract for the manufacture of two metal versions of the TS-1 for comparison of the then new metal structures with the traditional wood and wire used in the original aircraft. By this time the Navy was assigning designations according to the actual manufacturer of the aircraft, so the two metal TSs became
The two TS-2s (BuNo. A-6446, A-6447) were scheduled to have their Aeromarine U-8-D engines replaced by Wright E-2 engines, and would become TS-3s. However, A-6446 had its Aeromarine engine removed, but the Wright engine was not installed and the aircraft was stricken from the Navy inventory on March 29, 1926, the following year it was shipped to the Aerodynamics Laboratory at Stanford University. In 1948, the Smithsonian Institution acquired A-6446, and now it is on long term loan with the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
US Navy VF-1 (Fighting Squadron One) never operated TS-2s, however,
A-6446 is wearing the markings of the squadron, including the code 1-F-13 seen on the original VF-1 TS-1 (site files). Note the diving bird insignia of VF-1 which was abandoned because of its similarity to the parrot used by the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company in their advertising. The logo was replaced by a high hat in 1927, and the squadron became famous as the High Hats.