30 June 1930 the firm Curtiss ordered one prototype, which was given the registration number of the Navy А8731. The aircraft had advanced at the time the all-metal fuselage and metal wings covered with fabric. The biplane was equipped with a nine – “star” Wright R-975C WHIRLWIND power of 400 HP, cylinders which closed townend ring.
After Harrigan sat in the cockpit, Lieutenant Howard young. During the third toe-hooks of the fixing mechanism of the aircraft on the trapeze jammed. To release machine sailor airship had to get out on the trapeze and beat with a wrench on the lock hook until then, until the aircraft is unhooked from the carrier. The reason became clear immediately after the examination. On the XF9C-1 set hooks designed for VO-1, but heavier fighter deformed hook stands, and moves the cable that opens the lock when the cutaway, is not enough. The cable was replaced and the flight continued.
7 Aug 1931 ended the construction of the airship AKRON, and on 21 September he made the first flight. Test vehicle program ended after 10 flights. On 3 October the crew of the airship set a world record, lifting into the air 207.
After a flight in Lakehurst and decision-airship military began work on the installation of the trapeze, and in January 1932 the sailors planned to participate in the flying aircraft carrier large naval maneuvers.
In February, the installation of the trapezoid has been completed, and the first toe-hooks XF9C-1 and the N2Y training double for the trapezium of the airship took place on may 3, 1932. The next day on Board the airship, invited the Congress of the Commission on Affairs of the Navy, which are held on Board for 9 hours, watching the flights of Harrigan and Yang XF9C-1.
Legal maneuvers forced the airship to fly across the continent on the West coast of the United States. During the exercise the airship attacked 13 ejection seaplanes 02U CORSAIR, and he was conditionally destroyed. However, AKRON was the first to discover the “enemy”, and within 14 minutes, undetected, watched the ships “enemy”. At this time the role of the flying aircraft carrier was assessed on merit command.
While the Navy was testing the first instance of the XF9C-1, firm Curtiss built a second, more perfect model, the designation XF9C-2. The fuselage of the aircraft remained the same and to improve visibility of the upper wing is raised to 100 mm, giving it a “Seagull” and the engine is lowered by 50 mm. also Changed the design of the main chassis and installed it on pneumatic low pressure, the wheels are covered with fairings. The plane was equipped with more powerful engine Wright R-975E-3 WHIRLWIND in 438 HP with variable-pitch propeller.
14 APR 1932 XF9C-2 made its first flight. The maximum speed of this fighter amounted to 284 km/h, ceiling — 5852 m, and the rate of climb is 515 m/min. However, after the hook has worsened directional stability of the aircraft, designers had to increase the area of the rudder
Evaluating the increased performance characteristics, in October 1931, the military ordered six production aircraft. The total number of ordered machines of the type F9C amounted to eight units with regard to prototypes. This was enough to arm two of the airships, as the hangar was calculated for each of four aircraft. Machines were placed in the corners of the hangar in limbo. To move them to the trapeze used the monorail system with winches.
In the summer of 1932 at the aeronautical base of the Navy Lakehurst arrived four new pilot R. Lawson, X., Miller, F. and F. Trapnell Kivett. At the same time and brought the first aircraft XF9C-2. Training of young pilots began with the study film, starring which starred veterans Harrigan and Yang. Then began training flights on a training N2Y Consolidated company.
Until November 1932, the airship worked as a training base, sometimes distracted by the search operation and repair. At the base are slowly coming serial F9C-2, the last of the ordered side of the fighters flew in January 1933. On Board of all the cars launched a logo designed by a student of art school, depicting two acrobats on the trapeze.
The main result of 1932 has been the introduction of over-the-horizon reconnaissance flights under the name “60 — 60”. According to this method, F9C could safely fly away from the airship for long distances, without fear of losing in the air their base a Secret system of “60 — 60” was quite simple. Two F9C scattered in different directions at angles of 60 degrees relative to the longitudinal line of the airship and supported the speed exactly twice the speed of its air bases. Via any period of time, the pilots were able to turn 120 degrees and to meet his ship.
The first flight of the system “60 — 60” was made on 18 November 1932 and ended in complete success. Implementation of “60 — 60” allowed the airship to “see” 342 620 km2 of sea surface in 12 hours of a flight. 11 March 1933 ended the construction of the second airship, In a solemn ceremony he was given the name MACON.
3 April 1933, the AKRON airship was caught in a thunderstorm, hit the rear part of the water and sank. Of the 76 members of the crew were killed 73, including Admiral Moffett. However, all side F9C fighters and their pilots were at this time on the basis of Lakehurst. At the time of accident AKRON made 73 of flight, flew at the same 1695,8 hours
After this tragedy, the fate of airships in the United States was under a big question. The responsibility to save the prestige of the American ballooning rests on the shoulders of the team and pilots flying aircraft carrier MACON. The first task for them was meeting 25 Italian flying boat S-55 squadron “Atlantic”. The Italians flew at the world exhibition in Chicago and did a stopover in new York. The Americans, jealously relating to the achievements of aviation in other countries, decided to divert the attention of compatriots to the appearance of the giant aircraft carrier airship MACON. When the S-55 dropped anchor, above the Harbor appeared the blimp, which was launched F9C. Floating in the air, pilots brilliantly carried out return to the airship that brought rave press reviews.
The first major task for the pilots F9С were a few naval exercises in the end of 1933. During the “battle” planes were used sparingly, the airship several times fell into the category of destroyed and especially not show. In January 1934 on the airship and aircraft installed a new radio navigation system with a visual indicator in the form of an arrow indicating the direction to the radio source. Thanks to her, the pilots were able to fly away from the ship as far as possible, not using a strict system of “60 — 60”. During testing of radio equipment the aircraft rose from the ground of the aerodrome and on the device I easily found the airship flying at a distance of 100 -130 km.
Eventually the system was adopted. F9С began to make daring flights without the landing gear, which, in principle, it was not necessary to the aircraft airborne and stood on it only for emergency landings. Instead of racks and wheels under the fuselage hung additional fuel tank 114 l of petrol, what theoretically increases the range of up to 362 km, but this distance-side radio station is not allowed to communicate, so F9С don’t usually fly off the airship further 225 km.
The most important event of 1934 was a secret operation planned and brilliantly carried out by captain of the airship the City of Wylie. The plan of operation provided for the interception of the cruisers “Houston” and “new Orleans”. “Houston” was the U.S. President Roosevelt and Wiley wanted to surprise him with the sudden appearance of his ship. Knowing of Roosevelt to the passion of philately, he decided to drop the cruiser bags with the letters of the brand which will be repaid by the post office of the airship. The discharge of the goods entrusted to pilots of airborne aircraft. On 19 June, the aircraft F9C found the squadron and dropped the mail bags.
Pleasantly surprised the President personally thanked the crew of the airship, but the high command of the Navy did not hide his irritation “the secret initiative” and severely reprimanded Wylie, because the combat training of the crew of the airship was not up to par. In the first half of the year the ship took part in seven exercises, two missed, and the exercise has been conditionally shot down 12 times.
After returning to base the pilots continued to train, flying from the airfield. June 27, a plane had escapetravel during a rough landing. The car was restored, but on 12 September, she again had an accident and damaged the right lower wing. Another annoyance occurred on October 11. During toe-hooks pilot of Simpler too much dispersed airplane and crashed into a trapezoid. The suspension caught on the broken harness on the car and the airplane crashed. Worst of all was that in the air waited for another pilot F9C Miller with almost empty tanks. Cautious movements of the rudders to Simpler managed to disengage from the trapeze and make room for his friend.
7 Oct MACON held a successful doctrine in the Navy, completing all tasks and evading attacks dive bombers. Training of the crew of the airship grew, more and more often, the crew began to emerge victorious on different exercises.
February 12, 1935, the airship was in the area of bad weather and sank. During the operation he made 54 flight, flew all 1798,2 hours. This time from 83 sailors were able to rescue 81 people, two were missing. In the hangar of the airship were four cars F9C-2. With the rest of the world of planes was removed obsolete hooks and for some time operated them for training purposes. Up to the present time preserved in only one copy in the Museum of naval aviation, assembled from pieces of the aircraft under the numbers 9056 and 9057.
The design of a fighter F9C-2
Side fighter F9C-2 SPARROWHAWK was a biplane with a metal fuselage. Power set of the wings of duralumin, linen lining. The tail Assembly of an airplane single-fin, all-metal, duralumin covering.
The fuselage is semi-monocoque consisted of two parts. Housed in the front motor mount, oil tank, fuel tank, the attachment of wings and landing gear. In the rear part of the fuselage was the cockpit, instrument, oxygen and radio equipment. In the lower part was the attachment mechanism of the landing hook, used when flying from the deck of an aircraft carrier.
The upper wing is arranged according to the scheme “the Seagull.” On the lower wing surface had two rectangular container in which were placed rubber ballonets. When landing on water, they automatically inflated with carbon dioxide and allowed the machine control. To control the aircraft roll on the upper wing, the ailerons are installed with internal weight compensation. Control wiring cable.
Landing gear for gear the-line airship was a tubular pyramidal frame with a safety strap and a steel hook and lock the carabiner, which was controlled from the cockpit by rope traction.
Landing gear tricycle, tailwheel. Parking angle biplane — 13 degrees. Landing gear steel, with oil damping. For aircraft carrier landing chassis of the car was modified.
For aircraft installed engine company Wright R-975E-3 WHIRLWIND power 438 HP Propeller two-bladed variable-pitch diameter of 2.6 m. Capacity of main fuel tank was 238,5 l, oil tank — 18,9 L. Neck tanks were located in the upper part of the fuselage, in front of the cockpit. Instead of the chassis under the fuselage could be suspended additional fuel tank capacity 114 L.
Armament consisted of two synchronised 7.62 mm machine guns with ammunition 300 rounds per gun. The machine guns installed in the nose of the fuselage, their guns out through the gaps between the cylinders of the engine.
Flight performance onboard the fighter F9C-2 SPARROWHAWK
Length of aircraft, m………………………….6,13
The scope of the upper wing, m……………….7,77
The scope of the lower wing, m…………………7,1
Height (with hook) m……………………..3,23
The upper wing area, m2…………..31,9
The lower wing area, m2…………..20,8
Empty weight, kg…………………………925,1
Maximum takeoff weight, kg …. 1259
Weight without chassis, kg…………………………1145
The maximum flight speed,
The maximum flight speed
without landing gear, km/h………………………….321,8
Max. flight range, km…………….478
Practical ceiling, m………………5850
N. Food reserve was, A. CHECHIN