Thursday, September 17, 2015
Curtiss BF2C-1 Goshawk II
The Curtiss BF2C Goshawk (Model 67) was a United States 1930s naval biplane aircraft that saw limited success but was part of a long line of Hawk Series airplanes made by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company for the American military, and for export as the Model 68 Hawk III.
The United States Navy and Curtiss felt the F11C-2 possessed development potential. The Navy decided to procure a variant with retractable landing gear. This variant, which still had the F11C-2's classic "Hawk" wood wing with its flat-bottomed Clark Y airfoil, was designated XF11C-3 by the Navy and Model 67 by Curtiss. The main gear retraction system was inspired by the Grover Loening-designed system on the Grumman XFF-1 prototype, and was manually operated.
The XF11C-3 was delivered to the USN in May 1933, with a Wright R-1820-80 radial engine rated at 700 hp (520 kW). Trials revealed a 17 mph (27 km/h) increase in speed over the F11C-2, but the extra weight caused a decrease in maneuverability. The Navy felt the handling degradation was more than offset by the increase in speed. During testing the XF11C-3 had its wood wing replaced by the metal-structured, biconvex, NACA 2212 airfoil wing used in production and soon after was redesignated XBF2C-1 (Model 67A) in keeping with the new Bomber-Fighter category.
Twenty-seven BF2C-1 were ordered by the U.S. Navy, with a raised rear turtledeck, a semi-enclosed cockpit, and a metal-framed lower wing. It was armed with two .30 calibre Browning machine guns and three hardpoints for 500 lb (230 kg) of external stores. Delivered in October 1934, they were assigned to VB-5 on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, but served only a few months before difficulties with the landing gear led to their withdrawal. In spite of its short service run many of the innovations developed for the Goshawk line found wide use in Navy aircraft for years to follow. They were the last Curtiss fighter accepted for service with the U.S. Navy.
The export version Model 68 Hawk III reverted to the classic wood/Clark Y wings and was powered by a 770 hp (570 kW) R-1820-F53. Chinese Hawk IIIs served as multi-purpose aircraft when combat operations against the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces began in earnest in August 1937, and were considered the Nationalist Chinese Air Force's frontline fighter-pursuit aircraft along with their inventory of Hawk IIs, Boeing Model 281 "Peashooters" and Fiat CR.32s. These aircraft were used against both the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces and both ground and naval targets with considerable success through the end of 1937, before being superseded by the better-armed and faster Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters. In the summer of 1940, nine surviving Hawk-III fighters, the F11C exported to the Nationalist Chinese Air Force served as night fighters to defend the Chinese wartime capital Chongqing from Japanese night bombing runs with the 22nd Squadron of the 4th Group.
In early 1935, Thailand placed an order for 24 Curtiss Hawk IIIs at a cost of 63,900 Baht each, and a manufacturing license was also bought. The first 12 Hawk IIIs were shipped to Thailand in August and the remaining 12 arrived in late 1935, which were named Fighter Type 10. A total of 50 Hawk IIIs were locally built during 1937 and 1939. The type was used against the French in the Franco-Thai War and the Japanese invaders in December 1941, then relegated for use as trainers. Some of these aircraft were still active in 1949 and one airframe (KH-10) survives in the Royal Thai Air Force Museum.
The Model 79 Hawk IV demonstrator had a fully enclosed cockpit and a 790 hp (590 kW) R-1820-F56.