The Aeromarine 39 became the first American aircraft to land on a moving carrier in 1922.
Authored By: JR Potts, AUS 173d AB and Dan Alex | Last Edited:
Credit: An Aeromarine 39 goes airborne with witnesses present.
Credit: An Aeromaine 39B comes in for a historic landing aboard the USS Langley
Credit: A distance shot of the Aeromarine A39B landing on the deck of the USS Langley
In 1917, the United States Navy entered into a contract with the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company for a new twin-seat biplane trainer aircraft. From the period spanning 1910 to 1924, Aeromarine delivered various aircraft types for civilian and military service - mailplanes, floatplane fighters and night time bombers among the group. With its key location near the Atlantic - its facilities were at Keyport, New Jersey - Aeromarine held perfect access to designing and developing aircraft intended t fly over water. The USN request was met by the Aeromarine 39 design and was eventually used as a land- and water-based trainer. Production totaled 150 aircraft.
The Aeromarine 39's design and construction was highly conventional for the period. It featured a slab-sided fuselage with seating for two in line. Its biplane wing arrangement included an upper and lower wing section, these supported by parallel struts and cabling for strength and control. The engine was fitted at the front of the fuselage in the usual way and drove a two-bladed wooden propeller. The empennage consisted of a single vertical tail gin with its applicable horizontal tailplanes. The undercarriage came in two forms depending on the service needed - for seaborne operations, pontoon floats were featured with a quick-removal capability, allowing a twin-wheeled undercarriage with tailskid arrangement to be used for land-based service of the aircraft.
Of the 150 total aircraft manufactured by Aeromarine, the initial fifty units were outfitted with the Hall-Scott A-7 engine of 100 horsepower (same as on the Standard J-1 trainers) as well as twin floats. These later came to be known as the "Aeromarine 39A" for the line went on to include a revised variant - the Aeromarine 39B. The 39B model held a modified floatplane undercarriage that featured a single pontoon with outboard floats instead. The engine was now switched over to a Curtiss OXX series system of 100 horsepower due to the Hall-Scott's propensity to catch fire. The vertical tail unit was granted more surface area for improved controlling. Dimensions included a length of 9.25 meters, a wingspan of 14.3 meters and a height of 4 meters. Maximum speed was 73 miles per hour with a range of 273 miles and service ceiling up to 8,200 feet.
The Aeromarine 39 soldiered on as time wore on - even into the early interwar years preceding World War 2 (1939-1945) and following World War 1 (1914-1918). World War 1 ended with the Armistice of November 1918, bringing the bloody conflict to a formal close. The Aeromarine 39s in service lived out the rest of their days from then on. Some examples ended in service with the Chinese.
It was during this after-war period that an Aeromarine 39 made American naval history when - On October 26, 1922 - Lieutenant Commander Godfrey deCourcelles Chevalier -piloted his Aeromarine 39 onto the deck of the USS Langley (CV-1/AV-3) as it steamed forward at 10 knots. Chevalier successfully landed his aircraft on the moving vessel - marking the first such landing on an American carrier.
Status Retired, Out-of-Service
[ 150 Units ] : Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company - USA
China; United States
- Navy / Maritime
30.35 ft (9.25 m)
46.98 ft (14.32 m)
14.76 ft (4.5 m)
(Showcased structural dimension values pertain to the Aeromarine 39A production model)
1,940 lb (880 kg)
2,504 lb (1,136 kg)
(Showcased weight values pertain to the Aeromarine 39A production model)
1 x Hall Scott A-7 piston engine developing 100 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the Aeromarine 39A production model)
73 mph (117 kph; 63 kts)
8,202 feet (2,500 m; 1.55 miles)
273 miles (439 km; 237 nm)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the Aeromarine 39A production model; Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database)
(Showcased armament details pertain to the Aeromarine 39A production model)
Aeromarine Model 39A - Twin-Float Seaplane; fitted with 1 x Hall-Scott A-7 engine of 100 horsepower.
Aeromarine Model 39B - Twin-Float Seaplane; fitted with Curtiss OXX water-cooled V-8 engine; increased wingspan; single-pontoon outrigger floats; enlarged vertical tail.
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