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Curtiss SC Seahawk


Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft


United States | 1944



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



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 05/06/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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.

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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.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Curtiss SC-1 Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft.
1 x Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone radial piston engine developing 1,350 horsepower driving four-bladed propeller unit at the nose.
Propulsion
313 mph
504 kph | 272 kts
Max Speed
37,303 ft
11,370 m | 7 miles
Service Ceiling
631 miles
1,016 km | 549 nm
Operational Range
2,500 ft/min
762 m/min
Rate-of-Climb
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Curtiss SC-1 Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
36.4 ft
11.09 m
O/A Length
41.0 ft
(12.50 m)
O/A Width
18.0 ft
(5.49 m)
O/A Height
6,321 lb
(2,867 kg)
Empty Weight
8,999 lb
(4,082 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Armament
Available supported armament and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Curtiss SC Seahawk Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft provided across 2 hardpoints.
STANDARD:
2 x 0.50 cal (12.7mm) fixed, forward-firing heavy machine guns.

OPTIONAL:
2 x 100 lb or 250 lb general purpose bombs held underwing.


X
X
Hardpoints Key:


Centerline
Wingroot(L)
Wingroot(R)
Wing
Wingtip
Internal
Not Used
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Curtiss SC Seahawk family line.
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.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Curtiss SC Seahawk. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 577 Units

Contractor(s): Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 400mph
Lo: 200mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (313mph).

Graph Average of 300 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
577
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 1
Image of the Curtiss SC Seahawk
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
SEARCH & RESCUE
MARITIME / NAVY
RECONNAISSANCE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Curtiss SC Seahawk Scout Floatplane / Air-Sea Rescue Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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