Curtiss H-16

Curtiss H-16

Glen Hammond Curtiss, the American aviation pioneer, began his project for a large flying boat in 1914. John Porte, a British naval pilot who was hoping to use the Curtiss H-16 to fly across the Atlantic, persuaded the Royal Naval Air Service to buy two of these aircraft. They were so impressive that 62 more were ordered.

A larger and better armed version, the Curtiss H-16, appeared in 1917. This model was armed with six machine-guns and could carry 920 lbs (416 kg) of bombs.

Performance Data of the Curtiss H-16




2 x 400 hp Liberty

Wing Span

95 ft (28.98 m)


46 ft 1 in (14.6 m)


17 ft 8 in (5.4 m)

Maximum Speed

95 mph (153 kph)

Maximum Height

9,950 ft (3,033 m)


378 (608 km)


5-6 machine-guns; 920 lbs (416 kg) of bombs

Curtiss H-16 'Large America'

The Curtiss H-16 'Large America' was a biplane flying boat that was probably the Curtiss version of the Felixstowe F.2A, and was definitely an improved version of the H-12, which was itself an enlarged version of the H-4 &lsquoSmall America&rsquo

The entire family was developed from the H-1 &lsquoAmerica&rsquo, a flying boat that had been developed for a private customer for an attempt to fly across the Atlantic, but then purchased by the Royal Navy after the outbreak of the First World War. This had been followed by the Curtiss H-4, a very similar aircraft, and the Curtiss H-12 &lsquoLarge America&rsquo. The H-12 was larger and generally more powerful, but in service it was found to be underpowered. In British service it was given 275hp Rolls Royce Eagle I or 375hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engines and in American service 400hp Liberty engines. The British also used it as the basis of the improved Felixstowe series of flying boats, starting with the Felixstowe F.1. These also entered production in the States, where the Felixstowe F.5 was modified to American standards and entered production as the F-5L (generally known as the Curtiss F-5L).

Curtiss followed the H-12 with the H-16 (Model 6C). This had a stronger hull than the H-12, and wings with a longer span but slightly narrower chord, giving them a smaller area. Aircraft delivered to the US Navy were powered by two 360hp Liberty engines. Aircraft that went to Britain were shipped across the Atlantic in crates, and assembled in the UK, where they were given 345hp Rolls-Royce Eagle IV engines.

Some sources state that the H-16 was either based on the British F.2A, or was even Curtiss&rsquos designation for the British design. An examination of plans of the F.2A, H-12 and H-16 would support this idea, with the H-16 looking identical to the F.2A, including having the sharper &lsquoV&rsquo shaped hull. It would also make more sense for the Royal Navy to be ordering the proven F.2A than another new Curtiss design. The two aircraft are recorded as having almost identical dimensions, with the differences minor enough to be accounted for by the difference in manufacturer.

In general sources written from the British point of view (British Flying Boats etc) call the H-16 the Curtiss designation for the F.2A, while those written from an American point of view

call it the Curtiss version of the F.2A or an improved version of the H-12. Of course both of these statements can be correct at the same time!

The H-16 was built in fairly large numbers, with 184 built by Curtiss and 150 by the Naval Aircraft Factory (originally the Navy Model C). The first production aircraft was completed at the Philadelphia Naval Factory in June 1918, but despite this comparatively late date both the British and American aircraft reached Britain in time to enter combat before the end of the First World War. Of these aircraft 124 of the Curtiss aircraft and all of the NAF aircraft were intended for the US Navy. In service the H-16 joined the H-12, F.2A and F.3 on patrol duties, mainly over the North Sea and focused against the U-boats.

The British ordered 125 H-16s. Sixty of the Curtiss built aircraft were delivered, but only 25 of the British aircraft were completed, and the rest were either stored in their cases or cancelled at the end of the war. Two batches of serial numbers were allocated to the H-16 &ndash N4060-N4074 (15 numbers) and N4890-N4950 (61 numbers). N4950-4599 may have been allocated to cancelled aircraft.

On 20 July 1918 RAF Killingholme became an US Naval Air Station. At least two H.16s were transferred from British to American control for service at the new base, along with five F.2As and four H.12Bs. They served alongside a number of the US Navy&rsquos own H-16s.

In American service the H-16 replaced the H-12 after the war. Most American aircraft were given 400hp Liberty 12A engines after the war. Many were also modified using parts from the more robust F-5L. The H-16 remained in service with the US Navy until May 1930.

Two H-16s were used to test pusher engines. The H-16-1 used the same layout as the normal H-16, while the H-16-2 had swept back wings with an increased wing span. Neither experiment was a success.

Engine: Two Liberty 12A inline piston engines
Power: 400hp each
Crew: Four
Span: 95ft 0 3/4in
Length: 46ft 1 1/2in
Height: 17ft 8 3/4 in
Empty weight: 7,400lb (equipped)
Maximum take-off weight: 10,900lb
Max speed: 95mph at sea level
Climb Rate: 10 minutes to 4,700ft
Service ceiling: 9,950ft
Range: 378 miles
Armament: six .303in machine guns
Bomb load: 920lb of bombs (four 230bl bombs)


Having transatlantic range and cargo carrying capacity by design, the first H-2 class (soon dubbed "The Americans" by the Royal Navy) was quickly drafted into wartime use as a patrol and rescue aircraft by the RNAS, the air arm of the British Royal Navy. The original two "contest" aircraft were in fact temporarily seized by the Royal Navy, which later paid for them and placed an initial follow-on order for an additional 12 — all 14 of which were militarized (e.g. by adding gun mounts) and designated the "H-4" (the two originals were thereafter the "H-2" Models to air historians). These changes were produced under contract from Curtiss' factory in the last order of 50 "H-4s", giving a class total of 64, before the evolution of a succession of larger, more adaptable, and more robust H-class models. This article covers the whole line of nearly 500 Curtiss Model H seaplane flying boat aircraft known to have been produced, since successive models - by whatever sub-model designation - were physically similar, handled similarly, essentially just being increased in size and fitted with larger and improved engines — the advances in internal combustion engine technology in the 1910s being as rapid and explosive as any technological advance has ever been.

When London's Daily Mail newspaper in 1913 put up a ₤10,000 prize for the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic, American businessman Rodman Wanamaker became determined that the prize should go to an American aircraft and commissioned the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company to design and build two aircraft capable of making the flight. The Mail ' s offer of a large monetary prize for "an aircraft with transoceanic range" (in an era with virtually no airports) galvanized air enthusiasts world wide, and, in America, prompted a collaboration between the American and British air pioneers: Glenn Curtiss and John Cyril Porte, spurred financially by the nationalistically motivated financing of air enthusiast Rodman Wanamaker. The class, while commissioned by Wanamaker, was actually a scaled-up version of Curtiss' work for the United States Navy and his Curtiss Model E. With Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte as Chief Test Pilot, development and testing of the two prototypes proceeded rapidly, despite the inevitable surprises and teething troubles inherent in new engines, hull and fuselage. Both prototypes, once fitted with sponsons, were then called Model H-2s and were incrementally updated alternating in succession, and were successfully fully tested by the late summer of 1914, when they were shipped to England. At this time they were scheduled for a transatlantic flight in August 1914, attempting to cross the North Atlantic Ocean by air — a trial canceled because of the outbreak of World War I. The resulting Model H was a conventional biplane design with two-bay, unstaggered wings of unequal span with two tractor engines mounted side-by-side above the fuselage in the interplane gap. Wingtip pontoons were attached directly below the lower wings near their tips. The Model H resembled Curtiss' earlier flying boat designs but was considerably larger in order to carry enough fuel to cover 1,100 mi (1,770 km). The three crew members were accommodated in a fully enclosed cabin. Christened America, trials of the first Model H began in June 1914 and revealed a serious shortcoming in the design: the tendency for the nose of the aircraft to try to submerge as engine power increased while taxiing on water. This phenomenon had not been encountered before, since Curtiss' earlier designs had not used such powerful engines. In order to counteract this effect, Curtiss fitted fins to the sides of the bow to add hydrodynamic lift, but soon replaced these with sponsons to add more buoyancy. These sponsons would remain a prominent feature of flying boat hull design in the decades to follow. With the problem resolved, preparations for the crossing resumed, and 5 August 1914 was selected as the date. These plans were interrupted by the outbreak of war, which also saw Porte, who had been selected to pilot the America, recalled to service with the British Royal Navy. Impressed by the capabilities he had witnessed, Porte urged the Admiralty to commandeer (and later, purchase) the America and her sister from Curtiss. This was followed by a decision to order a further 12 similar aircraft, one Model H-2 and the remaining as Model H-4s, four examples of the latter actually being assembled in the UK by Saunders. All of these were essentially identical to the design of the America, and indeed, were all referred to as "Americas" in Royal Navy service. This initial batch was followed by an order for another 50.

These aircraft were soon of great interest to the British Admiralty as anti-submarine patrol craft and for air-sea rescue roles. The initial Royal Navy purchase of just two aircraft eventually spawned a fleet of aircraft which saw extensive military service during World War I in these roles, being extensively developed in the process (together with many spinoff or offspring variants) under the compressed research and development cycles available in wartime. Consequently, as the war progressed, the Model H was developed into progressively larger variants, and it served as the basis for parallel developments in the United Kingdom under Cyril Porte which led to the "Felixstowe" series of flying boats with their better hydrodynamic hull forms, beginning with the Felixstowe F.2 — a hull form which thereafter became the standard in seaplanes of all kinds, just as sponsons did for flying boats.

Curtiss next developed an enlarged version of the same design, designated the Model H-8, with accommodation for four crew members. A prototype was constructed and offered to the United States Navy, but was ultimately also purchased by the British Admiralty. This aircraft would serve as the pattern for the Model H-12, used extensively by both the Royal Navy and the United States Navy. Upon their adoption into service by the RNAS, they became known as Large Americas, with the H-4s receiving the retronym Small America. As built, the Model H-12s had 160 hp (118 kW) Curtiss V-X-X engines, but with these engines they were underpowered, so in Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) service they were re-engined with the 275 hp (205 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle I and then the 375 hp (280 kW) Eagle VIII. Ώ] Porte redesigned the H-12 with an improved hull this design, the Felixstowe F.2, was produced and entered service. Some of the H-12s were later rebuilt with a hull similar to the F.2, these rebuilds being known as the Converted Large America. Later aircraft for the U.S. Navy received the Liberty engine (designated Curtiss H-12L). ΐ] Curiously, the Curtiss company designation Model H-14 was applied to a completely unrelated design (see Curtiss HS), but the Model H-16, introduced in 1917, represented the final step in the evolution of the Model H design. Α] With longer-span wings, and a reinforced hull similar to the Felixstowe flying boats, the H-16s were powered by Liberty engines in U.S. Navy service and by Eagle IVs for the Royal Navy. These aircraft remained in service through the end of World War I and remained in U.S. Navy service for some years after the war, most receiving engine upgrades to more powerful Liberty variants.

Curtiss H-16 - History

[ 179 ] . -pusher arrangement were mounted in the center one. The NC-1 was initially flown with only the three tractor engines but was found to be so underpowered that the fourth pusher engine was installed.

As described in connection with the H-16, the wings and tail surfaces of the NC boats were of wood-frame construction covered with fabric. The wooden frame of the short, broad-beam hull was covered on the sides and bottom with two layers of planking that were glued together with a sheet of canvas in between and had a three-ply wood veneer turtle deck. The outriggers supporting the tail were of wooden box beam construction. A glance at the physical characteristics of the NC-4 given in table IV shows that it was indeed a large aircraft. At a gross weight of 27 386 pounds, it was about twice as heavy as the F-5L and had a wing span of 126 feet as compared with 103.8 feet for the F-5L. The wing area of 2380 square feet was 70 percent greater than that of the F-5L and was only about 18 percent less than that of the modern Boeing 707 jet transport ( chapter 13 ). The performance data show a maximum speed of only 85 miles per hour and estimated values of the cruising and stalling speeds of 77 and 67 miles per hour, respectively. Accordingly, the aircraft had to be carefully flown and maneuvered within the narrow speed range available to it. At 0.0899, the zero-lift drag coefficient of the NC-4 was the highest of any of the aircraft for which data are given in table IV , and the value of 7.0 was the lowest of any of the maximum lift-drag ratios shown. The maximum range of the aircraft is given in reference 109 as 1470 miles with such a low value of maximum lift-drag ratio, this range could only be possible with a large aircraft having a relatively low empty weight as compared with gross weight. In spite of its shortcomings in aerodynamic efficiency, the NC-4 fulfilled these weight requirements and was able to make the Atlantic crossing for which it was designed. Shortly after completion of its historic flight in 1919, the NC-4 was presented to the Smithsonian Institution, which completely restored the aircraft for the 50th anniversary of the famous flight in 1969. Today, the NC-4 may be seen at the United States Naval Air Museum located at the Naval Station in Pensacola, Florida.

Curtiss H-16 - History

Queen Beatrix International Airport is Aruba’s aviation gateway serving more than 2.5 million passengers annually with non-stop service to 14 U.S. destinations and 19 other international destinations in more than 14 countries, connecting Aruba to the world one flight at a time. Queen Beatrix International Airport is located approximately 3.1 miles/5 km from the downtown area, 5 miles/7.2 km from the low-rise hotels, and 7 miles/10.7 km from the high-rise hotels. For more information, please visit

The Curtiss H-16s in the Paardenbaai Harbor – 1923

Aruba’s aviation history dates back more than 90 years. It was on Saturday, August 18, 1923, when two US Navy Curtiss H-16 long-range maritime patrol flying boats landed for the first time in the Paardenbaai Harbor of Oranjestad. The two aircraft operated out of the Coco Solo Naval Air Station (NAS) in the Panama Canal Zone. After a short stay on the island, both aircraft continued their flights at 11:40 am to Curacao.

In 1933, the first locally based aircraft, a Curtiss-Robin, was brought to Aruba. Manuel Viana, James Hathaway, and James A. Massey flew it from a mudflat runway near the sea in Savaneta. None of these men had any real experience in the air. To overcome this handicap, the trio engaged an ex-Braniff Airways pilot, A.J. Viccellio. His task was to assist in building up aviation in Aruba by means of instruction and the possible development of an airline.

Loening C2H Air Yacht – 1934

In 1934, commercial aviation was introduced in Aruba by Manuel Viana of Viana Auto Supply. Once each week, his six-passenger single-engine Loening C2H Air Yacht amphibious airliner carried passengers and mail between Aruba and Curacao with pilot A.J. Viccellio at the controls. Manuel Viana bought the Loening C2H Air Yacht from the Standard Oil Co. of Venezuela. In December 1933, the aircraft was shipped to Aruba and handed over to Lago and sent to Mr. Viana of the Caribbean Flying Service. In 1934, the aircraft was registered to the Caribbean Flying Service with registration number PJ-ZAA and used for scheduled service between Aruba and Curacao. Operations ceased December 1934 after the start of operations of KLM West-Indisch Bedrijf. Manuel Viana was paid by KLM to stop the scheduled service.

Advent of Scheduled Flights at KLM Field – 1935

KLM’s “Snip” made its first appearance in Aruba on December 24, 1934, when the Fokker F.XVIII touched down at 10:20 am on the mudflat runway in Savaneta. KLM later transferred its operations to its own graded runway, the KLM Field, located at the site later known as the Dakota Field. A terminal was built at the KLM Field.

KLM’s Snip, the PJ-AIS Fokker tri-motor, ushered in the scheduled flying age in Aruba on January 19, 1935. It flew together with KLM’s “Oriol”—the PJ-AIO, also a three-engine Fokker—until 1946, after which both aircraft were scrapped. With its bi-weekly Aruba-Curacao operations, KLM transported 2,695 passengers on 471 flights.

Dakota Airport – 1942

In early 1942, the German Navy began anti-shipping operations using U-boats in the Caribbean. The subs sank several tankers in the harbor at San Nicolas and shelled the Lago oil refinery in an attempt to disrupt the supply of fuel to the war effort in Europe, prompting the government of Aruba to build a 5,100-foot-long air strip for the US Army Air Corps, together with a small building that served as a terminal, which was inaugurated on June 4, 1942. These facilities later became known as the “Dakota Airport.” During this period, the airport served as the base of operations for the U.S. Sixth Air Force defending Caribbean shipping and the Panama Canal against German submarines, until it was disestablished after the end of the war in October 1945.

New Runway and Parallel Taxiway Completed – 1954

The third terminal building was inaugurated on March 18, 1950. Nearly a decade after the government of Aruba constructed the original paved runway, it was discovered while repairing 42 paving breaks, which appeared between December 1950 and March 1951, that only two and a half inches of paving covered the runway. The paving break-ups threatened to close the field, so the island government decided to adopt a two-fold program: to pave an area 133 feet wide and 4,500 feet long to be used as a runway and taxiway strip while the main runway was being repaired. In September 1953, the 4,500-foot runway and taxiway combination was completed, which served as a substitute for the main runway while it was being repaired and lengthened. When work on the main runway was completed in 1954, the new 6,445-foot lighted runway and 4,500-foot parallel taxiway configuration served to upgrade the airport from Class D to Class C in the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) rating system, which existed at the time.

Dakota Airport Dedicated to Princess Beatrix – 1955

On October 22, 1955, the “Dakota Airport” was dedicated to Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands during the visit of Her Royal Highness Queen Juliana. The opening ceremony was presided over by His Royal Highness Prince Bernard. Furthermore, during this same year, the old Dakota terminal building was changed into the airport fire department garage.

In 1962, plans started on the expansion of the airport to accommodate the new jet aircraft entering into service and to plan for the passengers expected from new and larger airplanes. The plans included a new terminal on the north side of the airport a completely new runway laid over the existing one, including a 3,000-foot extension into the lagoon relocation of the Oranjestad – San Nicolas highway around the airport and new glide-path lighting needed for jet aircraft approaches.

Start of the Jet Age in Aruba – 1964

On April 10, 1964, the first phase, the extension of the runway, was completed, and the start of the jet age commenced in Aruba. The first two jet landings in Aruba were Jet Clipper “Aruba” of Pan American Airways and the Henry Dunant of KLM. A year later, the groundbreaking for the construction of the fourth terminal building took place, which was inaugurated on November 8, 1972.

Beatrix 2000 Expansion Project

In 1997, another major expansion project for the airport, Beatrix 2000, began. The first phase of the project was completed and inaugurated on September 1, 1999. The Beatrix 2000 design included an expansion and renovation to the existing 1972 terminal and included a new arrival immigration hall, baggage claim, eight contact gates, a new concession area, and two separated check-in buildings for U.S. and non-U.S. bound flights.

Renovation – 2011

The Aruba Airport received a transformative renovation in 2011. The aesthetic upgrade is still impressive today.

Gateway 2030 Expansion Project

Gateway 2030 is the airport’s first major expansion since 2000. The construction started in 2018 and will last for four years. The airport expansion includes three additional contact gates, two extra bus gates, a broader selection of retail, food and beverage outlets, and much more.


Good Morning—Another week of our lives has past and it’s time to talk about airplanes. The Curtiss C-46 Commando is an airplane that was overshadowed by the the DC-3 and has been large ly forgotten however, I have not forgotten and this week I want to reintroduce you to an airplane that made a lot of history and is still making money for commercial operators around the world.

The C-46 Commando – Enjoy………………………

The Curtiss C-46 Commando

The Curtiss Commando began life as a design for a 36-seat commercial airliner with a pressurized cabin, designated the “CW-20”, with development initiated by Curtiss in 1936. The CW-20 was intended to provide a larger, more capable competitor to the Douglas DC-3, which was then entering service. The CW-20 featured a roomy “Double Bubble” fuselage, with a cross-section in the form of two circle segments mated together, top and bottom. This configuration provided large internal volume and the structural strength to support pressurization. The junction between the small segment and the larger top segment was faired over to improve aerodynamics. The CW-20 also featured a low wing with twin radial engines, twin tailfins, and fully retractable tailwheel landing gear — the single-wheel main gear retracting into the engine nacelles. The cockpit windscreen was flush with the fuselage contour, giving the aircraft a whale-like appearance.

Flight tests quickly showed that the twin-fin tail left much to be desired, and it was replaced by a conventional tail arrangement with a single tailfin. The modified aircraft, now known as the “CW-20A”, was demonstrated to airlines, and there were some interest in the type. However, in September 1940 the US Army Air Corps (USAAC), implementing an increasingly frantic program to prepare for war, ordered 200 modified “CW-20Bs” with the military designation of “C-46”. Production began at the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York, with the first “Commando” delivered to the US Army Air Forces (which had superseded the Air Corps in the meantime) on 12 July 1942. With a war on, Curtiss focused on military production, and commercial production was out of the question for the duration.

Adapting the CW-20 to military service as the C-46 Commando needed few changes. The first 25 aircraft, designated C-46, were built essentially to the original specifications. The Pratt & Whitney R-2800 engines were replaced by Wright Double Cyclones and plans to provide pressurization were abandoned, as well as a number of minor changes were incorporated.

The Commando initially went into service on the South Atlantic ferry route, and would also participate as a glider tug in the Rhine crossings in March 1945. However, due to its long range, it was primarily used in the Pacific and China-Burma-India (CBI) theaters, becoming the primary cargo lifter for ferrying supplies from India to China over “the Hump”, the Himalaya Mountains, after the Japanese shut down the Burma Road in 1943. Commandos of Colonel Edward H. Alexander’s “India-China Wing” of the USAAF Air Transport Command flew from primitive airstrips in the Indian state of Assam, climbing with overload cargoes to clear ridges from 3.7 to 4.3 kilometers (12,000 to 14,000 feet) high, to land at Chunking and drop off their loads for USAAF General Claire Chennault’s 14th Air Force and Nationalist Chinese forces.

The loss rate of the C-46 was high and it had a mixed reputation with aircrews. Partly the problem was the fact that environment was very harsh, operating conditions were difficult, and Japanese fighters were an occasional threat. However, stories still circulate that the C-46 also suffered from a large number of engineering and manufacturing faults, in particular a leaky hydraulic system. Crews were said to take a barrel of hydraulic fluid along on flights to make sure that the hydraulic systems were topped off before they were used. There was also apparently a fuel leak problem that took a long time to work out, with aircraft being lost in midair explosions at a steady rate until it was.

It doesn’t appear that the C-46 was an inherently bad aircraft, it was just rushed into service without the level of qualification that it would have been run through in peacetime, and it took a lot of work to get the bugs fixed. The aircraft’s detractors called it the “Curtiss Calamity” and the “Leaky Tiki”, though it was also more affectionately named “Dumbo”, after the flying baby elephant in Walt Disney’s 1941 animated movie.

The airlift from India to China, “Flying the Hump,” was the real hour of glory for the Curtiss C-46 Commando. The following is from an article that I found on the web:

In Feb. 1942 President Roosevelt ordered General Arnold to open a supply line across the Himalayas in support of General Chiang Kai-Shek (and his air adviser Claire L. Chennault) at a time when the Japanese offensive was at its peak. Rangoon fell in March 1942 and this cut off the supply via the Burma Road. The initial 26 aircraft for this project were 10 ex-airline DC-3s and some C-53s. The flights were started in late 1942 by the China National Aviation Corporation (CNAC) and the USAAF. By December of that year some 62 DC-3s of various types were involved, but already 15 had been destroyed. Conditions were poor at the airfields serving the China airlift, in September 1942, e.g. fuel was still being pumped by hand from drums.

Chennault, a retired USAAC Colonel who had become special advisor to the Chinese Air Force in 1937, formed the American Volunteer Group (AVG) with 100 US-financed P-40Bs and began operations against the Japanese from bases at Kunming, the first successes recorded on 20 December 1941. In fact, this was the only air defense China had to offer at that time. The AVG ceased to exist on 30 June, 1942. The aircraft were taken over by the 23rd Fighter Group, developing into the China Air Task Force (under Chennault, recalled to active service as a General). Because the Japanese controlled the Chinese coast and the fall of Burma closed off the last remaining supply routes over the ground, all supplies (including aviation fuel!) had to be airlifted in. Existing numbers of aircraft had to be increased to be at all effective.

In early 1943 General Arnold ordered to build up strength to 112 C-47s and 12 C-87s (converted B-24s). Enlarging the effort, they encountered problems of pilot inexperience, weather personnel problems, problems in communications, engineering and maintenance, lack of radio aids and direction finders…. The airfields were not complete and monsoon rains (beginning in June and lasting over 5 months!) played havoc with the facilities. Colonel Alexander, CO of the India-China Wing declared the C-47 unsuitable and requested C-46s. By 15 April 1943, 30 C-46s were delivered, replacing an equal amount of C-47s. More were to follow.

The direct distance between the Assam bases and Kunming was only some 500 miles, but the route is the most rugged imaginable. Chabua, on the banks of the Bhramaputra River, is only 90 ft above sea level but the Valley Walls climb to 10.000 ft. in the Patkai range. A series of ridges rise to a height of 14.000 ft and over, while Kunming itself sits at 6.200 ft. elevation. The icing level is at about 12.000 ft. and the flying was mostly done on instruments in foul weather: constant cloud cover, frequent violent thunderstorms, and tricky wind currents over the mountains…. Men and machines were put through extremes here, pushing the limits!
The service ceiling of the C-46 stood at 16.000 ft., above which it is not completely stable. The Hump was flown at 20.000 or 22.000 ft. eastbound and 21.000 ft. westbound…! As the C-46 cannot climb at 500 ft. per minute, it was necessary to climb near the base to gain sufficient altitude for the crossing.

During the dry season (winter) there was the danger of attacks by the Japanese fighters, but the biggest enemy was the weather. Carburetor icing was encountered, but this was a relatively well understood phenomenon. But there was more… The engines were susceptible to vapor lock at altitude, but as long as fuel was fed from one tank, there was no problem. On attempting to change tanks at altitude, the low atmospheric pressure and the suction of the engine driven pump caused vaporization of the fuel in the line, leading to the engine stopping… The engine could usually be restarted at lower altitude, but over the mountains there was no room to maneuver. The solution proved to be an electrically driven fuel pump inside each tank.

The early C-46s (as flown by Eastern Airlines) were fitted with 3-bladed Hamilton propellers. Fairly early in production these were replaced by the 4-bladed Curtiss electrically operated props. An electric motor was used to alter the angle of the blades. With a little corrosion, the electric contact could be lost, resulting in the prop moving into fine pitch and the engine overspeeding. This was particularly serious on takeoff from high altitude fields. Like Kunming. With gross weights above those initially intended by the designers….! The cumulative effect of the problems encountered was such that by November 1943, some 721 modifications had been ordered. The flow of new C-46s was stopped for a time while a modification program was put into effect. In 1942, when the airlift was first planned, a target of 7.500 tons per month was set, but this proved to be overoptimistic. This goal was not reached till October 1943. A typical payload for a flight consisted of 23 55-gallon steel drums of aviation fuel and 1 1/2 tons of bomb fuses. Other items carried included earth moving equipment aircraft engines and other spares. Little was carried out of China. From 8 February 1944, 25 C-46s were diverted from their original tasks and were seconded to supplement Troop Carrier Command aircraft for a few days of supply droppings in the Arakan region to help British troops to stem a northward Japanese advance the 22.000 troops were down to two days supplies. Assignments like these happened quite often. Sometimes the C-46s played their part in evacuations. While the Hump operation progressed, statistics showed impressive figures: in July 1944 19.050 tons was carried, in December 31.935 tons, by 250 aircraft (daily average availability) in 7.612 trips…. Kunming could not handle all this and Luliang (60 miles East) became an India-China Division terminal in August 1944.

The total number of aircraft assigned to the Hump continued to rise to a maximum of 332 in July 1945, during which 71.042 tons were carried. At present day this would take 536 sorties by C-5 Galaxies…! Personnel involved peaked at 22.359.
By 1945 the tide of war changed and other routes became available thus the C-54 could now could be put to use (it lacked the ceiling of the C-46, but on the routes now available it could carry 1.7 times the payload of the C-46).

The Hump was officially closed on 30 November 1945.

Another interesting article that I found on “Flying the Hump” was located on CNACs web page and is a reprint of an article f rom The Wall Street Journal on Saturday, February 25, 2012. You may have difficulty reading this but if you click on the image itself it will take you to the actual web location.

The web sites that I used are listed below, and if time permits, do some research on your own and let’s see if we can bring history’s forgotten airplane back in to the mainstream.

Have a good weekend and I hope to see you back here next Friday when we will be talking about……………. Take care, fly safe, and be safe.

Curtiss H-16 flying boat

The Curtiss H-16 flying boat, equipped with twin Liberty engines of 360 horsepower each, had been developed during 1915 and 1916 by the Curtiss Co. and the British Admiralty.

The original model had been the Curtiss America of 1914 which was built just prior to the beginning of the World War for a proposed trans-Atlantic flight. The America was not successful because no high-power engines were available, but the British Admiralty ordered a number of them and fitted them in England with two French Anzani engines of about 100 horsepower each, known as "small America's," and they were used to patrol submarine areas. Curtiss then designed the H-12, a larger machine on the same lines which was fitted in England by the Admiralty with twin Rolls-Royce engines. The Admiralty redesigned the hull of the H-12 to provide greater strength and introduced for the first time the steep Vee bottom with double steps.

In the early part of 1917 the Curtiss Co. was given a large order for the British redesigned boat, known in England as F-3 or "large America" and in the United States as H-16. This machine was already in production at the Buffalo works of the Curtiss Co. when the United States declared war but the design was arranged to mount Rolls-Royce engines. It became necessary to redesign the H-16 to provide for Liberty engines. This redesign of the H-16 involved extensive changes in the plane, but time was too valuable to work out a trial installation. Production was started at once and by a combination of good luck and good management no serious difficulties developed.

The H-16 was a biplane flying boat, 46 feet in length, having a span of 96 feet, and equipped with two 360-horsepower Liberty engines. The weight empty was 7,400 pounds and loaded 10,900 pounds. The useful load included four men, radio, two 230-pound depth bombs, and four machine guns. The maximum speed was 95 miles. At this speed the endurance was four hours but patrols at cruising speed of nine hours were made in the war zone.

The H-16 was a twin-engined seaplane with a flying-boat hull, using tractor propellers. The pilot and observer are seated in a cockpit about half-way between the bow and the wings, where they have an excellent view. The H-16 was also fitted with a gunner's cockpit the same as the HS-2. In addition, a wireless operator was carried inside the hull just forward of the wings and back of the pilots. Abaft the wings an additional gun ring was fitted covering the arc of fire above and between the wings and the tail controls and to take care of the region to the rear and below the tail controls gun mounts were also fitted, swinging on brackets through side doors in the hull. The bomb gear was operated from the forward gunner's cockpit and four bombs were carried, two under either wing. This type of boat proved very serviceable, and was a substantial copy of the same type of boat built in this country for England, differing only in minor details from those supplied to England. This boat was really a successor to the H-12, which was very similar, except that the hull of the H-12 was more like that of the HS-2 both in construction and in the form of the planing fins.

The original proposal for the Naval Aircraft Factory had envisioned the building of training planes only, but this plan was quickly revised since enough trainers were being built by other factories and what was needed were types of aircraft suitable for antisubmarine patrol and convoy duty. The Factory therefore began work on the production of Curtiss H-16 twin-engine flying boats. On October 12 the form for the first boat was laid and the work of ordering material and putting the H-16 into production began. On October 17 actual work on the first boat was started and, on November 2, the first keel was laid.

The upper wing span of the big flying boat measured 96 feet and its hull was 46 feet long. It was powered by two Liberty engines, armed with four machine guns, and carried a crew of four or five-a pilot, one or two observers, a mechanician and a wireless operator.

Plans for the H-16 had to be completely redrawn to fit the production methods employed by the Factory. While the Curtiss Company's experienced foremen and skilled workmen did not need absolutely clear, detailed drawings of every minor part, the inexperienced NAF employees required complete information. This careful and thorough redrawing of the plans, which required the better part of two months, was the work of the Factory's first Chief Engineer, George R. Wadsworth, a major in the Signal Corps, USA, serving in this capacity while on active duty.

On March 27, 1918, just 228 days after ground was broken and only 151 days after receipt of the original plans, the first NAF-built H-16 made its initial flight. A few days later, this aircraft and another H-16 were shipped to Killingholme, England, for war service overseas. These were the first of 50 authorized under the Factory's original contract, the last of which was completed on July 7.

By December 1917, expansion of the planned operating program required an upward revision of scheduled aircraft procurement. The new schedule called for delivery of a total of 864 twin-engine flying boats of the H-16 or similar type by January 1, 1919. The total requirement exceeded not only the number on order but also the capacity of existing manufacturing plants. An enormous expansion of the Naval Aircraft Factory was therefore authorized. It was estimated that $3,250,000 would be required to build the new facilities. Subsequently, an additional $500,000 was needed to cover the cost of a hangar and certain waterfront improvements. In addition to the hangar, there was to be a six-story concrete storehouse and a three-story office building the assembly building was to be enlarged. When, in June 1918, the original plant was in full production, the new one was very nearly completed. The total space available upon completion was 888,935 square feet, of which 500,000 square feet were used in the manufacture and assembly of aircraft.

Almost before this construction program began, the NAF on February 28, 1918, received an order to produce 100 H-16's in addition to the 50 it was already building. Because there was hardly time to wait for the completion of the new buildings, an ingenious plan of sub-contracting was devised. By it, the facilities of many small manufacturers were put under contract to produce wing panels, boat hulls and other more minor parts which were delivered to the Factory for assembly. By the summer of 1918, when production was at its height, the assembly plant was drawing parts from the Victor Talking Machine Company, seven yacht builders, two small aircraft factories, a number of furniture factories and automobile and sheet metal products factories. Except for the two small aircraft shops, all these plants had been drawn into the work by the Naval Aircraft Factory organization which maintained branch offices in each of its contributory plants. In addition to the nearly 3,700 persons directly engaged at the Naval Aircraft Factory, there were some 7,000 others employed in the manufacture of parts.

The Navy’s Flying Cannon

Majestic Monstrosity. A Naval Aircraft Factory N-1 struggles to get airborne.

Built to counter the German U-boat threat in World War I, the Naval Aircraft Factory N-1 never fulfilled its purpose.

In a peculiar contravention of American capitalist principles, the U.S. Navy established its own aircraft production facility—the Naval Aircraft Factory—in Philadelphia in October 1917. Its first product was the Curtiss H-16 flying boat, 150 of which were produced under license. By the end of March 1918, NAF-built H-16s were flying anti-submarine patrols over European waters. Apart from the license-produced Liberty Engine de Havilland DH-4, the H-16 was the only American-built aircraft to serve in the American Expedition­ary Forces over Europe during World War I.

It was not long, however, before the NAF initiated development of an original aircraft design. Designated the N-1, it was the first Navy airplane designed specifically for the attack role, as well as one of the most unusual aircraft ever developed for that service. To understand why it looked the way it did requires an understanding of the weapon it was designed to employ.

The Davis Gun, the world’s first successful recoilless cannon, fired a shell from its muzzle while simultaneously firing a charge of lead balls and grease out the rear of the gun to cancel out the recoil. Designed by Navy Com­mander Cleland Davis in 1910, it came in bores of 40mm, 62mm and 76.2mm, firing shells of 2, 6 and 12 pounds, respectively. Since the Davis Gun was a single-shot weapon, a Lewis machine gun was frequently attached to it to aid in lining up on the target before firing the shell.

Although unwieldy, the Davis Gun, with a Lewis machine gun attached to aid in aiming, worked better than the airplane meant to carry it. (National Archives)

During WWI Britain experimented with mounting the Davis Gun in the noses of various aircraft. It briefly appeared on the Handley Page O/100 bomber and the Curtiss HS-2L flying boat for potential use by the Royal Naval Air Service against submarines. In May 1916, Robey Company Ltd. began work on a large single-engine biplane designed by J.A. Peters, with two Davis gunners perched in nacelles on the upper wing to attack Zeppelins. On its first test flight in May 1917, however, the Robey-Peters Davis Gun Carrier crashed into a local mental hospital. The pilot was unhurt, but Robey apparently considered this a bad omen and burned the prototype.

Another unusual aircraft intended for anti-Zeppelin duties, the Supermarine P.B.31E quadruplane had a glazed enclosed cabin accommodating up to five men and a sleeping berth for off-duty crewmen. Powered by two 100-hp Anzani 9-cylinder radial engines, it was intended to stay up for nine to 18 hours, waiting to intercept Zeppelins with its Davis gun or two Lewis machine guns atop the upper wing. First flown in February 1917, it was promptly rejected because its 60 mph speed and 60-minute climb to 10,000 feet made it slower than its intended prey.

After the United States entered the war in April 1917, the Navy also became interested in using the Davis Gun as an airborne weapon against U-boats. But whereas the British had adapted large maritime-patrol flying boats to carry the gun, the NAF built an aircraft specifically for that purpose. Designed by Jerome Hunsaker, the N-1 was a large, two-seat, single-engine pusher floatplane powered by a single 330-hp Liberty engine. Although the pusher configuration was obsolescent by that time, it was considered necessary in this case in order to provide a roomy cockpit in the nose from which the gunner would have a clear field of fire for his bulky Davis Gun.

The N-1 was a clumsy-looking biplane with the upper wing mounted flush with the top of the fuselage and the tail surfaces supported by a latticework of four longerons and bracing struts in order to clear the propeller. The lower wing was mounted well below the fuselage, and the twin main floats were attached to a spindly set of struts well below that. The gunner stood in the bow of the nacelle, an arrangement that provided him with a perfect view and field of fire. The N-1 was 37 feet 8 inches long, with a 51-foot wingspan. Its ceiling was 7,800 feet, and while the maximum speed is not speci­fied, it could not have been much above 100 mph.

The N-1 looked both top-heavy and flimsy, so it’s hardly surprising that in May 1918 the first prototype was damaged beyond repair when its landing gear collapsed as it was about to take off. Thus postponed, the N-1’s first flight was achieved by the second prototype on July 27.

Two more N-1s were built and flown after the war, in July 1919. Reports of the resulting flight trials indicate that while the Davis Gun mounting worked well enough, the aircraft itself was unsatisfactory. The engine overheated frequently while taxiing, and takeoffs were difficult when the N-1 was loaded with more than a half-hour’s worth of fuel, which was clearly insufficient for its proposed mission of anti-submarine patrol. Conse­quently, the N-1 was deemed operationally useless, and both the aircraft and the concept were rejected.

The NAF continued to produce aircraft, most famously the N3N biplane basic trainer of World War II, more familiarly known to naval aviation cadets as the “Yellow Peril,” of which about 1,000 were built. In May 1956, the Naval Aircraft Factory became the Naval Air Engineering Facility (Ship Installations), at which point it ceased airplane production and development activities.

This feature appeared in the May 2017 issue of Aviation History. Subscribe here!


Every Christmas, the late Otto Schnering, owner of Cary-based Curtiss Candy Company Farms, threw a large company party in the bullpen of the farm, although, judging by the sentiments of former employees, it was more of a family affair.

Schnering "was very well-liked," Dean Dunn, a former employee said. "It was a big family."

Now, 28 years after the farm was sold to G.D. Searle, and subsequently moved to Elburn, several former employees have joined together to publish a 172-page book that tells the history of the farm. The book includes 165 photographs.

Readers got their first look at the finished product Dec. 20, when the book rolled off the presses.

"There area lot of people living around the valley today . . . that worked for the farm (which ran along Cary-Algonquin Road). That's the reason we're writing this," Dunn said. "At one time, it was estimated about half the town of Cary worked at the farm or was employed with it in some way."

Nancy Johnson Helmar of Cary, one of the co-authors of the book, grew up on the farm, where her father was employed caring for the chickens, turkeys and ducks.

Helmar remembered the farm as a fun place where she and her friends got together for baseball games and roller skating. She told how each year, horseback-riding competitions were held for the kids.

Helmar said that the farm was self-sufficient. It included a private well and dump, and Schnering gave free eggs, milk and chickens to the employees. He also dug and stocked several trout ponds on the property.

Helmar remembered growing up on the farm and wrote that portion of the book. But, internationally the farm was renowned for its top-quality cattle, Belgian horses, Shropshire sheep and Yorkshire hogs. It also was a leading enterprise in the field of artificial insemination of cattle.

According to Dunn, Schnering founded the farm in 1942 to produce milk for his candy products. At one time, Schnering's operation included 10,000 acres of farmland in four counties north and west of Chicago.

Schnering died in 1953, and the farm continued to operate until 1968.

"I called the kids that lived on the farm," Helmar said, "and found out what they were doing (when the book came out). I haven't seen them since I was a kid, but you never lose those friendships. They're friends for life."

7 thoughts on &ldquo Curtiss Candy Co., est. 1916 &rdquo

I have a vintage Baby Ruth vendor jacket in very good condition that I am ready to sell. It was just appraised at $600-$800. If you know of someone interested, please let me know.

I have a picture of the Curtiss Wagon with ponies pulling it. It looks to be at some outdoor event. My grandfather worked for Dicksfield farm in Gurnee, IL. The farm raised and showed horses. This picture was in his album. If anyone wants to see
it, let me know. [email protected]

Do you have a old photo of “Royal Flush” candy bar ?

I don’t see a mention of the Curtiss pony and wagon team which performed at horse shows, rodeos, store openings and promotional events. My father staged a photo event of the horses checking in to the famous Rice Hotel in Houston. Photos were of the ponies standing at the front desk, getting on an elevator and standing in a room. It made the city newspapers. Ponies were named after seven dwarfs iirc. My father started working for Curtiss in the 1930s as a salesman in Milwaukee where he had moved looking for work. He worked the bars and stores. Eventually he returned to Texas becoming a district manager over several states. Curtiss had an office and warehouse in Houston. After that was closed, he worked out of Dallas where Curtiss had a small candy factory. He remained with Curtiss until Curtiss was sold and the new owners eliminated some upper management staff. I still have lots of his photos from the time. I also remember a promotion where a large Baby Ruth candy Bar, about 2 or 3 feet long and maybe a foot in diameter toured grocery stores where customers would submit their guesses as to how many peanuts were inside. I don’t remember the prize.

I have recently come across a cotton sack with red writing, which states, “Curtiss Baby Ruth 5 cents.” I would like to know what year these were manufactured.

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