NC Flying Boats

proceedings-first-issueOne of the many interesting projects done by the USS Midway (CV-41) Carrier Museum Library  is the ongoing partnership with the Naval Institute Proceedings in Annapolis, Maryland.  The Naval Institute got funding to digitize every issue of the Proceedings.  CDR Phil Eakin (USN Ret) led the charge with volunteers of  Midway Proceedings Summary Project to provide keywords and summaries for every article in each each Proceedings issue since it’s beginning in 1874.  The jounal is one of the oldest continuously published magazines in the United States.

Phil recently shared the summary of the NC Flying Boats from the 4th Quarter, 1919 issue of Proceedings.  The NC Flying Boat was the first plane to fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

The summary was written by “Steve Sheldon, a full-time NCIS agent at 32nd Street Naval Station. It is just background on the flying boats’ design and construction but provides a different angle on the cross-ocean jaunt.”

The summary and the link to the actual article:

This 53-page article relates the author’s first-hand account of the design and construction of the Navy, Curtiss (NC) Flying Boats. The article includes numerous illustrations and photos of aircraft designs and construction techniques. On America’s entry into WWI in April 1917, no definite air policy or program existed. Two months later, a joint Army-Navy team was ordered to Europe to study air matters among the principal governments arrayed against Germany and to recommend development of an American air service. The author was a member of that team. After carefully studying aircraft types in England, France and Italy, the team concluded kite balloons should be tethered to destroyers for observation and flying boats used for patrol and to bomb submarines. After discussions, Chief of Navy Construction and Repair, Rear Admiral Taylor, issued requirements for the design and construction of flying boats with capabilities far beyond current types. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation was the only aeronautical manufacturing company with a force capable of handling the requirements. On award of contract, the Curtiss organization worked out all design and construction details under navy supervision. Curtiss would build four aircraft, designated NC-1 through NC-4. Numerous technical problems were attacked, especially regarding the use of aluminum or wood for wing strut and other foundational parts. Navy engineers contributed much to the NC design, especially regarding hull design and construction. Design concepts were rigorously tested and improved by subjecting scale models to wind tunnel testing at the Washington Navy Yard. NC-1 was delivered in September 1918. Modifications were made for subsequent models included changes in tail section configuration and addition of a fourth engine. Though details of NC-2 through NC-4 are not discussed the author concludes, “Such is the story of the design and construction of the NC flying boats. The performance of these machines in the recent trans-Atlantic flight, both in the air and on the water, shows the excellent results that may be obtained by the application of real engineering principles of design to the solution of problems seemingly as impossible of solution as was this one when first proposed by Admiral Taylor.”  Keywords: Naval Aviation history.

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