Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company

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Curtiss Aeroplane & Motor Company, Ltd
Type Public
Industry manufacturing
Founded January 1916
Defunct 1929 (became Curtiss-Wright Corporation)
Headquarters Buffalo, New York
Number of locations 3
Key people Glenn H. Curtiss
founder & president
Products aircraft
Revenue US$1,566 million
Employees 21,000 (1916)

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was an American aircraft manufacturer that went public in 1916 with Glenn Hammond Curtiss as president. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the company was the largest aircraft manufacturer in the United States. After Curtiss left the company, it became part of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

History[edit]

Curtiss-Herring flying machine photographed in Mineola, New York.

In 1907, Glenn Curtiss was recruited by the scientist Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, to be among the founding members of Bell's Aerial Experimental Association (AEA), with the purpose of helping establish an aeronautical research and development organization.[1] According to Bell, it was a "co-operative scientific association, not for gain but for the love of the art and doing what we can to help one another."[2]

In 1909, the AEA was disbanded[3] and Curtiss formed the Herring-Curtiss Company with Augustus Moore Herring on March 20, 1909,[4] which was renamed the Curtiss Aeroplane Company in 1910.[5][6]

Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company[edit]

, Curtiss 160 hp Reconnaissance Biplane

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company was created on January 13, 1916 from the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York and Curtiss Motor Company of Bath, New York. Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts, became a subsidiary in February 1916.[7]

With the onset of World War I, military orders rose sharply, and Curtiss needed to expand quickly. In 1916, the company moved its headquarters and most manufacturing activities to Buffalo, New York, where there was far greater access to transportation, manpower, manufacturing expertise, and much needed capital. An ancillary operation was begun in Toronto, Ontario that was involved in both production and training, setting up the first flying school in Canada in 1915.[8]

Curtiss was instrumental in the development of U.S. Naval Aviation by providing training for pilots and providing aircraft. The first major order was for 144 various subtypes of the Model F trainer flying boat.[4] In 1914, Curtiss had lured B. Douglas Thomas from Sopwith to design the Model J trainer, which led to the JN-4.[9][10]

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company worked with the United States' British and Canadian Allies. JN-4s were built in Canada, and many were used as trainers in England.[11] In order to complete the large military orders for the Curtiss Jenny two-seat biplane trainer, production shifted to as many as five other manufacturers.

Curtiss military aircraft being tested in College Park, Maryland circa 1912

The Curtiss HS-2L flying boat was used extensively in the war for anti-submarine patrols. Bases were built in Nova Scotia, Canada, France and Portugal for the purpose. The Royal Navy and Curtiss worked together to design flying boats; this culminated with the NC-4, the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, in 1919. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world during World War I, employing 18,000 in Buffalo and 3,000 in Hammondsport, New York. Curtiss produced 10,000 aircraft during that war, and more than 100 in a single week.

Peace brought cancellation of wartime contracts. In September 1920, the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company underwent a financial reorganization and Glenn Curtiss cashed out his stock in the company for $32 million and retired to Florida.[12] He continued as a director of the company but served only as an advisor on design. Clement M. Keys gained control of the company and it later became the nucleus of a large group of aviation companies.[13]

Curtiss seaplanes won the Schneider Cup in two consecutive races, those of 1923 and 1925. The 1923 race was won by U.S. Navy Lieutenant David Rittenhouse flying a Curtiss C.R.3 to 177.266 miles per hour (285.282 km/h).

Piloted by U.S. Army Lt. Cyrus K. Bettis, a Curtiss R3C won the Pulitzer Trophy Race on October 12, 1925, at a speed of 248.9 miles per hour (400.6 km/h).[14] Thirteen days later, Jimmy Doolittle won the Schneider in the same aircraft fitted with floats. Doolittle finished first with a top speed of 232.573 miles per hour (374.290 km/h).

Curtiss-Wright Corporation[edit]

On July 5, 1929, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company became part of Curtiss-Wright Corporation, together with 11 other Wright and Curtiss affiliated companies. One of the last projects started by Curtiss Aeroplane was the ambitious Curtiss-Bleecker SX-5-1 Helicopter, a design that had propellers located midpoint on each of the four large rotors that drove the main rotors. The design, while costly and well engineered, was a total failure.[15]

Curtiss Aviation School[edit]

Curtiss also operated an aviation/flying school at Long Branch Aerodrome in Mississauga, Ontario from 1915 to 1917 before being taken over by the Royal Flying Corps.[16]

Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station[edit]

Glenn H. Curtiss sponsored the Atlantic Coast Aeronautical Station on a 20-acre tract east of Newport News, VA Boat Harbor in the Fall of 1915 with Captain Thomas Scott Baldwin as head. Many civilian students, including Canadians, later became famed WW1 flyers. Victor Carlstrom, Vernon Castle, Eddie Stinson and Gen Billy Mitchell trained here. The school was disbanded in 1922.

Products[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

Other types of aircraft[edit]

Aircraft engines[edit]

Helicopters[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 4–5.
  2. ^ Milberry 1979, p 13.
  3. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 36–37.
  4. ^ a b Gunston 1993, p. 87.
  5. ^ Bell 2002, p. 87.
  6. ^ Casey 1981, p. 37.
  7. ^ Mondey and Taylor 2000, p. 197.
  8. ^ Molson and Taylor 1982, p. 23.
  9. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 103, 123–124, 134–136, 174–175.
  10. ^ Casey 1981, pp. 176–179.
  11. ^ Casey 1981, p. 196.
  12. ^ Rosenberry 1972, p. 429.
  13. ^ Studer 1937 p. 352
  14. ^ "Curtiss R3C-2." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. Retrieved: February 10, 2010.
  15. ^ "New Plane May Fly Straight Up In The Air." Popular Science, September 1930.
  16. ^ Long Branch

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bell, Dana, ed. Directory of Airplanes, their Designers and Manufacturers. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 2002. ISBN 1-85367-490-7.
  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Casey, Louis S. Curtiss, The Hammondsport Era, 1907-1915. New York: Crown Publishers, 1981. ISBN 978-0-517543-26-9.
  • Gunston, Bill. World Encyclopedia of Aircraft Manufacturers. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1993. ISBN 1-55750-939-5.
  • Mondey, David, ed., revised and updated by Michael Taylor. The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. London: Greenwich Editions, 2000. ISBN 0-86288-268-0.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: McGraw-Hill Ryerson, 1979. ISBN 0-07-082778-8.
  • Milberry, Larry. Aviation in Canada: The Pioneer Decades, Vol. 1. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: CANAV Books, 2008. ISBN 978-0-921022-19-0.
  • Molson, Ken M. and Harold A. Taylor. Canadian Aircraft Since 1909. Stittsville, Ontario: Canada's Wings, Inc., 1982. ISBN 0-920002-11-0.
  • Sobel, Robert. The Age of Giant Corporations: A Microeconomic History of American Business, 1914–1970. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1972. ISBN 0-8371-6404-4.
  • Roseberry, C.R. Glenn Curtiss: Pioneer of Flight. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, 1972. ISBN 0-8156-0264-2.
  • Studer, Clara. Sky Storming Yankee: The Life of Glenn Curtiss. New York: Stackpole Sons, 1937.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Curtiss Aeroplane Company
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
1916–1929
Succeeded by
Curtiss-Wright Corporation