Travel Air 2000

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2000, 3000, 4000, CW-14, Sportsman, Osprey
Curtiss Wright Travel Air E4000 OTT2013 D7N8754 BEA 003.jpg
Travel Air 4000, at landing
Role biplane aircraft
Manufacturer Travel Air, Curtiss-Wright
Designer Lloyd Stearman
First flight 13 March 1925[1]
Introduction 1925
Primary user private owners, aerial sightseeing businesses
Produced 1925-1930
Number built approx 1,300[2]

The Travel Air 2000/3000/4000 (originally, the Model A, Model B and Model BH)[3] and later marketed as a Curtiss-Wright product under the names CW-14, Speedwing, Sportsman and Osprey), were aircraft produced in the United States in the late 1920s by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. Travel Air produced more aircraft during the period from 1924-1929 than any other manufacturer.[4]

Design and development[edit]

The types shared a common structure of a conventional single-bay biplane with staggered wings braced by N-struts. The fuselage was of fabric-covered steel tube and included two open cockpits in tandem, the forward of which could carry two passengers side-by-side.

Like other aircraft in the Travel Air line, it was available with a variety of different, interchangeable wings, including a wing shorter and thinner than the rest known as the "Speedwing" designed, as the name suggests, for increased cruise speed. Travel Air entered a specially-modified Model 4000 (designated 4000-T) in the Guggenheim Safe Aircraft Competition of 1930, but it was disqualified.

Steam powered[edit]

In 1933 a Travel Air 2000 was modified by George and William Besler where the usual inline or radial gasoline piston engine was replaced by an oil-fired, reversible 90° angle V-twin angle-compound engine of their own design, which became the first fixed-wing airplane to successful fly using a steam engine of any type.[5][6] The Beslers are thought to have sold the plane to the Japanese[who?] in 1937.[7]

Curtiss-Wright production[edit]

Following Travel Air Manufacturing Company purchase in August 1929[8] by Curtiss-Wright, the Model 4000 continued in production into the early 1930s as the CW-14, and the range was expanded to include a military derivative dubbed the Osprey. This was fitted with bomb racks, a fixed, forward-firing machine gun, and a trainable tail gun. These aircraft were supplied to Bolivia and used during the Gran Chaco War, which eventually led to Curtiss-Wright's successful prosecution for supplying these aircraft in violation of a U.S. arms embargo.


Model B
Travel Air Model A fitted with a Wright J-6 piston engine.

Like other Travel Air aircraft, Model 4000 variants were distinguished by letters prefixed (or occasionally affixed) to the basic designation to denote different engine and wing fits. These letter codes included:

Travel Air 2000 with Curtiss OX-5 engine airworthy at the Historic Aircraft Restoration Museum, Dauster Field, Creve Coeur, Missouri, in June 2006
Travel Air 3000
Travel Air 4000
Travel Air 4000 at Fantasy of Flight.
Travel Air E-4000
original wing with "elephant-ear" ailerons
Axelson engine
"standard wing" with Frise-type ailerons and three fuel tanks
Curtiss engine
revised "standard wing" with a single fuel tank
Kinner engine
Lycoming engine
Travel Air 2000
first production model
powered by a 160-hp (119-kW) Curtiss C-6 engine
Travel Air 3000
powered by a 150-hp / 180-hp (112-kW / 134-kW) Hispano-Suiza Model A or Model engine.
powered by a 150-hp (112-kW) Axelson engine
powered by a 220-hp (164-kW) Wright J-5 engine
floatplane version
powered by a 300-hp (224-kW) Wright J-6-9 engine
powered by a 170-hp (127-kW) Challenger engine
powered by a 165-hp (123-kW) Wright J-6-5 engine
powered by a 100-hp (75-kW) Kinner K5 engine
floatplane version
powered by 110-hp (82-kW) Warner Scarab engine

Curtiss-Wright models built[edit]

CW-14C Sportsman
Version with 185 hp (138 kW) Curtiss Challenger engine (1 built).[9]
CW-A14D Deluxe Sportsman
Three-seat version with 240 hp (180 kW) Wright J-6-7 engine and NACA cowling (5 built).[9]
CW-B14B Speedwing Deluxe
Version with 300 hp (220 kW) Wright J-6-9 engine (2 built).[9]
CW-B14R Special Speedwing Deluxe
Single-seat racer built for Casey Lambert with supercharged Wright R-975 engine (1 built)
CW-C14B Osprey
militarized version with Wright R-975E engine
CW-C14R Osprey
militarized version with Wright J-6-9 engine
CW-17R Pursuit Osprey
CW-B14B with uprated engine; possibly not built


Military operators[edit]

20 purchased 1933–34.[10]
3 from 1932.[10]
2 CW-14Rs purchased 1931.[10]
2 acquired 1931.[10]
 El Salvador
3 from 1933.[10]
3 CW-14Rs purchased 1932.[10]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Museum aircraft include:[11]


An airworthy Travel Air 4000 resides in the collection of Fantasy of Flight in Polk City, Florida. In 1997, this aircraft was used by the U.S. Postal Service to help commemorate the first day issue of a series of airplane stamps. With the local Postmaster on board, owner Kermit Weeks delivered the first ever airmail in the history of Polk City; probably the last as well.[12]

Specifications (CW-A14D)[edit]

Data from Specifications of American Airplanes[13]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 2 passengers
  • Length: 23 ft 7 in (7.19 m)
  • Wingspan: 31 ft 0 in (9.45 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m)
  • Wing area: 248.0 sq ft (23.04 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,772 lb (804 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,870 lb (1,302 kg)
  • Fuel capacity: 58 US gal (48 imp gal; 220 L)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright Whirlwind , 250 hp (190 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 155 mph (249 km/h; 135 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 132 mph (115 kn; 212 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 56 mph (49 kn; 90 km/h)
  • Range: 530 mi (461 nmi; 853 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,486 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 553
  2. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 553
  3. ^ Simpson 2007, p. 553
  4. ^ Wings Over The Prairie, Ed Phillips, 1994
  5. ^ "World's First Steam Driven Airplane" Popular Science, July 1933, detailed article with drawings
  6. ^ George & William Besler (April 29, 2011). The Besler Steam Plane (YouTube). Bomberguy. 
  7. ^ Where have all the Dobles gone, The Steam Automobile, Vol 7 No 1, Spring 1965, page 23
  8. ^ Simpson 2001, p. 553
  9. ^ a b c Bowers 1979, p. 404.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Hagedorn 1992, p. 72.
  11. ^ Ogden 2007, p. 541
  12. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (2013-10-17). "1929 Travel Air 4000". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  13. ^ Aviation March 1936, pp. 82–83.

External links[edit]

Media related to Travel Air 2000 at Wikimedia Commons