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Curtiss SC Seahawk

United States (1944)
Picture of Curtiss SC Seahawk Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft

Despite its floatplane pedigree, the impressive Curtiss SC Seahawk reconnaissance-minded floatplane displayed fighter-like performance.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss SC Seahawk Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/6/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

World War 2 (1939-1945) required an equal victory over the sea as it did over land, particularly for nations dependent on free access to critical ocean spaces of the world - nations such as the United States, Britain, and the Empire of Japan. In response to this need, a slew of floatplane and flying boat aircraft were fielded during the grand conflict and these designs ranged from prewar offerings to all-new developments. As the fighting raged on in the Pacific, the United States Navy (USN) looked to strengthen its stock of serviceable reconnaissance-minded floatplanes. One endeavor produced the Curtiss SC "Seahawk" of which 577 were ultimately built. First flight of the type was recorded on February 16th, 1944 with service introduction following that same year. It served into the post-war years and was not retired until 1949.

As early as 1942 the prospect of a new floatplane was in the works for the USN. America had been at war since the events of Pearl Harbor back in December of 1941 and reinforcement of all branches of service was now the call of the day. Preliminary interest led to the USN contracting Curtiss Aeroplane to develop a pair of prototypes based on a new floatplane design submission. The contract was signed on August 25th, 1942, less than a month after the company had submitted their proposal and this also included an order for several service test aircraft to evaluate the viability of the new airplane under service conditions.

As was the practice with many aviation products seen during the war years, Curtiss Aeroplane was already granted a serial production contract even before the first prototype had gone airborne - such was the expediency at which many aircraft designs evolved during the war. The USN called for 500 examples of the floatplane to be produced.

Curtiss unveiled a working form in time and this was designated "XSC-1". Its design was largely conventional as it featured a cylindrical fuselage, seating for one crew, and a standard single-finned tail unit. The monoplane wings were low-set under the aircraft and its undercarriage was dominated by a large central float housing a retractable wheeled undercarriage. The large float was originally designed to double as a bomb bay but this feature was dropped in favor of more internal fuel for increased operational range. Smaller floats were affixed under each wing element for stabilization on choppy water. Power was served from a Wright R-1820-62 "Cyclone" 9-cylinder supercharged radial piston engine driving a four-bladed propeller through 1,350 horsepower. Dimensions included a wingspan of 12.5 meters, a length of 11 meters, and a height of 4.9 meters.
While the aircraft was designed to be crewed by a sole operator, there was an integral rest/recovery area in the fuselage to serve downed pilots after at-sea rescues.

Standard armament was modest - 2 x Browning M2 heavy machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mountings. Each wing was also allocated a hardpoint for the carrying of a single 250 lb conventional drop bomb. The aircraft could therefore be used to attack targets of opportunity as needed in addition to flying in its defined reconnaissance role. The starboard side wing could also support an externally-mounted radar fit which increased the tactical value of the aircraft considerably.

Getting its start back in 1942, the XSC-1 product gestated for a lengthy period by wartime standards for it was not until October of 1944 that the series was officially in active service. They were formally designated as SC-1 "Seahawk" and were delivered with fixed wheeled undercarriages before having their standard floatation gear added upon arrival. First examples were delivered to the USS Guam, an Alaska-class cruiser commissioned in September of that same year.

In practice, Seahawks proved excellent floatplanes for naval military service and came to be highly regarded in their field of expertise. However, its protracted development period limited its availability during much of the war, its first notable actions not occurring until June of 1945. By this time, the war in Europe had ended and Japan would capitulate a few months later, bringing a formal end to the war.

Beyond the SC-1 production model there existed the proposed SC-2 - a version featuring a second crewman with appropriately revised cockpit and canopy. This version was not acted on despite some nine prototypes being commissioned.

The SC-1 held a maximum speed of 315 miles per hour with a cruising speed nearing 125 mph. Its range was out to 625 miles with a service ceiling up to 37,300 feet. Rate-of-climb was a useful 2,500 feet per minute.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (313mph).

    Graph average of 300 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
577
577


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Origin: United States
Year: 1944
Type: Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
Production: 577
Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
United States
Historical Commitments / Honors:

Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
36.38 ft


Meters
11.09 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
41.01 ft


Meters
12.5 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
18.01 ft


Meters
5.49 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
6,321 lb


Kilograms
2,867 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
8,999 lb


Kilograms
4,082 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone radial piston engine developing 1,350 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
313 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
504 kph


Knots
272 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
631 mi


Kilometers
1,016 km


Nautical Miles
549 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
37,303 ft


Meters
11,370 m


Miles
7.06 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
2,500 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
762 m/min

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft heavy machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (2):

STANDARD:
2 x 0.50 cal (12.7mm) fixed, forward-firing heavy machine guns.

OPTIONAL:
2 x 100- or 250 lb general purpose bombs held underwing.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• XSC-1 - Prototype Designation; two examples produced.
• SC-1 - Initial Produciton Model Designation; 566 examples produced; introduced in 1944.
• SC-2 - Improved two-seat SC-1; nine examples produced; appearing in 1946.