The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, albeit not non-stop.

Curtiss NC-4 Nancy Boat "1917"

TypeCurtiss NC
ManufacturerCurtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Manufactured1917
SerialA2294
First flight30 April 1919
Owners and operatorsU.S. Navy
In service1919–1920
Flights7
Total hours21379
Preserved atNational Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida

 




Curtiss Aircraft

Curtiss NC-4 (NANCY) was a
Curtiss NC flying boat "1917"

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Curtiss NC-4 flying boat "1917"

The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, albeit not non-stop. The NC designation was derived from the collaborative efforts of the Navy (N) and Curtiss (C). The NC series flying boats were designed to meet wartime needs, and after the end of World War I they were sent overseas to validate the design concept.

The aircraft was designed by Glenn Curtiss and his team, and manufactured by Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, with the hull built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Corporation in Bristol, Rhode Island.

In May 1919, a crew of United States Navy and US Coast Guard aviators (https://cgaviationhistory.org/1919-nc-4-transatlantic-flight/) flew the NC-4 from New York State to Lisbon, Portugal, over the course of 19 days.

Design

The transatlantic capability of the NC-4 was the result of developments in aviation that began before World War I. In 1908, Glenn Curtiss had experimented unsuccessfully with floats on the airframe of an early June Bug craft, but his first successful takeoff from water was not carried out until 1911, with an A-1 airplane fitted with a central pontoon. In January 1912, he first flew his first hulled “hydro-aeroplane”, which led to an introduction with the retired English naval officer John Cyril Porte who was looking for a partner to produce an aircraft with him to attempt win the prize of the newspaper the Daily Mail for the first transatlantic flight between the British Isles and North America – not necessarily nonstop, but using just one airplane. (e.g. changing airplanes in Iceland or the Azores was not allowed.)

Emmitt Clayton Bedell, a chief designer for Curtiss, improved the hull by incorporating the Bedell Step, the innovative hydroplane “step” in the hull allowed for breaking clear of the water at takeoff. Porte and Curtiss were joined by Lt. John H. Towers of the U.S. Navy as a test pilot.

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Curtiss NC-4 "1917"

The NC-4 is property of the Smithsonian Institution, since it was given to that institution by the Navy after its return home. However, this aircraft was too large to be housed in either the older Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building in Washington, D.C., or in its successor, the 1976-completed National Air and Space Museum main building, also in Washington. A smaller model of the NC-4 is kept in the Milestones of Flight Gallery in the National Air and Space Museum, a place of honor, along with the original Wright Flyer of 1903;

Specifications

    • Crew: 5
    • Length: 68 ft 2 in (20.78 m)
    • Wingspan: 126 ft (38 m)
    • Height: 24 ft 5 in (7.44 m)
    • Empty weight: 16,000 lb (7,257 kg)
    • Gross weight: 28,000 lb (12,701 kg)
    • Powerplant: 4 × Liberty L-12 V-12 water-cooled piston engines, 400 hp (300 kW) each
    • Maximum speed: 85 mph (137 km/h, 74 kn)
    • Endurance: 14 hours 48 minutes
    • Service ceiling: 2,500 ft (760 m)
    • Time to altitude: 2,000 ft (610 m) in 10 minutes
    • Power/mass: 0.06 hp/lb (0.099 kW/kg)

    Armament

    • Machine guns in front and rear cockpits; Provision to carry depth charges in wartime

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The NC-4 was a Curtiss NC flying boat that was the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, albeit not non-stop.