Military Factory logo

Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat)

United States (1918)
Picture of Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft
Picture of Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft Picture of Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft
+ Images
This entry's gallery contains additional pictures. Click to View.

Only ten Curtiss NC aircraft were purchased during its production run and utilized primarily by the United States Navy over the Atlantic.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 9/13/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

World War 1 in Europe prompted all military industries to develop and produce various solutions to ongoing (and some new) problems. The United States eventually formally sided with the Allied powers and began shipping goods and men to Europe in 1917 though these vessels were under constant threat from the dreaded German U-boat submarines plaguing Atlantic waters. In response, the US Navy called for a long-range flying boat that could cross the vast distances of the Atlantic and provide cover for supply ships while also patrol against the German marauders.

The charge eventually fell to the capable Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company concern who had already garnered much experience in the design of boat-like flying boats in years prior (the Curtiss H-16 being one prime example). Production of a new type of flying boat began in 1918 to which a first flight occurred on October 4th, 1918. The Curtiss concern worked to exacting specifications as put forth by the United States Navy Board of Construction and Repair and the result was a large biplane airframe powered by multiple engines. The series took on the designation of Curtiss NC ("NC" for "Navy Curtiss") and initially appeared in a three-engined form as the "NC-1". The US Navy had on order a total of four NC aircraft (NC-1, NC-2, NC-3 and NC-4). The NC was completed with full sleeping quarters and radio facilities for the intended long range flights. In November of that year, the NC-1 set a world record by transporting no fewer than 51 passengers.


Picture of the Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft
Picture of the Curtiss NC (Nancy Boat) Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft


Design-wise, the Curtiss NC was very standard for the time, showcasing a very workmanlike appearance. The aircraft featured a boat-like hull for sea operations to which the NC could take-off and land on water as needed. The smooth fuselage was slung under the large biplane wing arrangement that sported parallel struts and lines of cabling for the various control surfaces and reinforced structural points. Small pontoon-like structures were affixed to the lower wing ends to counter tipping when on water. The initial NC-1 mark held three engines fitted side-by-side-by-side at the center of the wing assemblies, this between the upper and lower wing planes. All three engines operated in a "puller" (or "tractor") arrangement. In the NC-2 and later, the three engines benefitted from a fourth engine mounted in a "pusher" arrangement (4 x Liberty L-12 water-cooled V-12 engines of 400 horsepower each). The empennage consisted of a twin-boom design structure with a biplane tailplane section encompassing three vertical tail fins. All six crew positions were open-air including a circular cockpit position at the extreme front end (bow) of the fuselage. The pilot's cockpit was set just aft of this position and ahead of the wing assemblies. A third open-air cockpit was set aft of the wings. Top speed was 90 miles per hour which put it on par with the earlier fighter mounts of the war. Range was out to 1,400 miles while the aircraft could manage a service ceiling of 4,500 feet. While generally unarmed, the NC series could fit aerial machine guns in the front and rear cockpit positions for self-defense. Conceivably, a wartime NC aircraft would have also been outfitted with bombs for attacking submarines and surface warships.

In November of 1918, the Armistice was signed, bringing an end to the fighting in Europe. As such, there was no great need for large-scale military aircraft procurement as in the months before. The US Navy still sought its large flying boat aircraft and development of the NC proceeded as planned (only the NC-1 was delivered to the US Navy before the end of the war). Ultimately, the NC-1 was joined by the NC-2, NC-3 and NC-4 marks. NC-2 was damaged during trials and never flew again while the NC-4 achieved first flight on April 30th, 1919. The remainder aircraft were then used in the first transatlantic flight in May of 1919 which ended with only the NC-4 reaching the intended airstrip at Lisbon, Portugal (by way of Newfoundland and the Azores). NC-1 crashed with her crew being rescued while NC-3 was forced down and "floated" her way to the Azores. Beyond this endeavor, the NC series led a utilitarian life in service to the US Navy. The Navy eventually contracted for six more NC aircraft (NC-5, NC-6, NC-7, NC-8, NC-9 and NC-10) and procurement of these marks continued into the 1920s.

Like the wartime JN-4 "Jenny" biplane trainer, the Curtiss NC series was better known as the "Nancy" or "Nancy Boat" for its "NC" in the designation.






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.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (85mph).

    Graph average of 75 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 NC-4 (Nancy Boat)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
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
10
10


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

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


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
National Flag Graphic
Origin: United States
Year: 1918
Type: Long-Range Flying Boat Biplane Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
Production: 10
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 NC-4 (Nancy Boat) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
6


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
68.24 ft


Meters
20.8 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
125.98 ft


Meters
38.4 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
24.41 ft


Meters
7.44 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
16,006 lb


Kilograms
7,260 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
28,001 lb


Kilograms
12,701 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
4 x Liberty 12A inline piston engines (3 x puller; 1 x pusher) developing 400 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
85 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
137 kph


Knots
74 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,461 mi


Kilometers
2,352 km


Nautical Miles
1,270 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
24,934 ft


Meters
7,600 m


Miles
4.72 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

OPTIONAL:
1 x 0.30 caliber machine guns in flexible bow cockpit.
1 x 0.30 caliber machine gun in flexible stern cockpit.

OPTIONAL:
Assumed bombload during war time.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• NC (Navy Curtiss) - Base Series Designation
• NC-1 - Initial production model; 3 x Liberty V12 engines in tractor configuration; appearing in October 1918.
• NC-2 - Second production model; damaged in accident and cannibalized for parts thereafter; 4 x Liberty V12 engines (3 x puller; 1 x pusher); post-war.
• NC-3 - Third production model; post-war
• NC-4 - Fourth production model; appearing in April 1919; completed first transatlantic flight in May 1919; post-war.
• NC-5 - Fifth production model; post-war
• NC-6 - Sixth production model; post-war
• NC-7 - Seventh production model; post-war
• NC-8 - Eighth production model; post-war
• NC-9 - Ninth production model; post-war
• NC-10 - Final production model; post-war