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[1]

The Travel Air 2000/3000/4000 (originally, the Model A, Model B and Model BH[1] and later marketed as a Curtiss-Wright product under the names CW-14, Speedwing, Sportsman and Osprey), were open-cockpit biplane aircraft produced in the United States in the late 1920s by the Travel Air Manufacturing Company. During the period from 1924-1929, Travel Air produced more aircraft than any other American manufacturer, including over 1,000 biplanes (some estimates range from 1,200 to nearly 2,000).[2][3][4][5][6]

Design and development[edit]

Primary design and development[edit]

The original Travel Air Model A was engineered chiefly by Lloyd Stearman—with input from Travel Air co-founders Walter Beech, Clyde Cessna, and Bill Snook—largely as a metal-framed improvement of his immediately previous design of the wood-framed, metal-cowled Swallow New Swallow biplane, with elements of the best fighter aircraft of World War I, the metal-framed German Fokker D-VII. Most subsequent Travel Air biplanes were derived, directly or indirectly, from the original Model A.[2][3][4]

(NOTE: An interim design, the Winstead Special was derived by the Winstead brothers from an initial metal fuselage frame developed at Swallow by Stearman and Walter Beech, and subsequently discarded by Swallow. The rejection of the metal frame concept, by Swallow president Jake Moellendick, triggered the departure of Stearman and Beech, and the creation of Travel Air.)[2][4]

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.

In common with the Fokker D-VII, the rudder and ailerons of first Travel Air biplanes had an overhanging "horn" to partially aerodynamically counterbalance the aerodynamic resistance of the controls when deflected, to provide a lighter control feel, and a more responsive aircraft. This gave Travel Airs their distinctive "elephant ear" vertical tails, and the similarly counterbalanced ailerons were also referred to as "elephant ear" ailerons—leading to the airplane's popular nicknames "Old Elephant Ears" and "Wichita Fokker." Some subsequent models were offered without the counterbalance, providing a cleaner, more conventional appearance and less drag. Elevator forces were trimmed out by use of an inflight-adjustable horizontal stabilizer.[2][4][5][7]

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.

Compared to other civilian ("commercial") open-cockpit biplanes of the era, Travel Airs were noted for their quality of construction, reliability, durability, speed, efficiency, payload and passenger capacity (two passengers in a small bench seat in the front cockpit, plus pilot in the rear cockpit—versus most biplanes of the era, which could only accommodate a single passenger in the front cockpit). They were also noted for superior comfort and easy flying. These various distinguishing characteristics led Travel Air to outsell all rivals by 1929.[3][4][8]

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.[9][10] The Beslers are thought[by whom?] to have sold the plane to the Japanese[who?] in 1937.[11]

Curtiss-Wright production[edit]

Following Travel Air Manufacturing Company purchase in August 1929[12] 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.[8][13][14]

Operational history[edit]

In addition to a wide range of normal aircraft applications, and conspicuous use in a minor South American war, Travel Air biplanes also saw extensive use in early motion pictures.

Normal Operations[edit]

During the 1920s and very early 1930s, Travel Air biplanes were the most widely used civilian biplanes in America (not counting war-surplus military trainers re-purposed for civilian use) -- with the arguable exception of their chief competitors, WACO biplanes. (Travel Air production ended in the mid-1930s, under the Curtiss-Wright Corporation).[2][3][4]

Initially, Travel Air biplanes were very widely used for executive transport, wealthy-sportsmen adventures, air taxi and air charter service, light air cargo tramsport, and some bush flying. Many were also used in barnstorming: exhibition and stunt flying, selling recreational rides, and early air racing.[2][3][4][6]

Commercial opeartors found the Travel Air biplanes very versatile and useful, owing to their substantial payload, simple and reliable systems, rugged construction and (for the times) substantial speed and efficiency.[2][3]

Towards the end of their useful lives (the late-1930s through the early 1970s), they were heavily used for the harsh work of bush flying and cropdusting, and Travel Air biplanes were among the most heavily used cropdusters in America—perhaps second only to the World War II surplus Stearman Kaydet biplanes (also designed by Lloyd Stearman).[2][6][15][16]

Today, most remaining Travel Air biplanes are regarded as treasures, having been carefully restored at substantial cost, and are used sparingly and carefully for personal recreation and/or modern-day barnstorming (exhibition flying and selling rides).[2][5][7][17]

Military Operations[edit]

The Osprey, a Travel Air biplane variant by Curtiss-Wright, was armed with bomb racks and machine guns, and supplied to Bolivia, who used them in the 1933 Gran Chaco War with Paraguay (in violation of a U.S. arms embargo, for which Curtiss-Wright's was eventually successfully prosecuted). Numerous plane-makers attempted to get their aircraft into the war, for publicity, and the Osprey initially benefitted the most from this international competition. Fitted with single machine guns fore (fixed) and aft (moveable), and bomb racks, the rugged, reliable Ospreys were the preferred mounts of the Bolivian pilots—of several competing aircraft supplied. The resulting heavy use led to high losses—half of the original 12 units being lost in accidents or action, another 5 or so were employed, though precise outcomes are unclear, owing in part to repairs on some of the "lost" aircraft, which were returned to service. However, the action brought favorable publicity and credibility to Curtiss-Wright aircraft.[8][13][14]

Movie Industry[edit]

Travel Air biplanes were widely used in 1920s/1930s war movies, particularly to represent the airplanes they were patterned after: Germany's Fokker D-VII fighter, the top fighter of World War I. In the motion picture industry, they were known as "Wichita Fokkers." In fact, Hollywood's demand for Travel Air biplanes was so intense that Travel Air's California salesman, Fred Hoyt, coaxed Travel Air co-founder and principal airplane designer, Lloyd Stearman, to come to Venice, California in 1926 to exploit the movie industry demand for his aircraft by starting a short-lived independent Stearman Aircraft Company (re-opened back in Wichita in 1927).[2][5][5][7][18]

Some of the many movies using Travel Air biplanes (2000 and 4000, in particular) included:[18][19]

Variants[edit]

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
A
original wing with "elephant-ear" ailerons
A
Axelson engine
B
"standard wing" with Frise-type ailerons and three fuel tanks
C
Curtiss engine
D
"speedwing"
E
revised "standard wing" with a single fuel tank
K
Kinner engine
L
Lycoming engine
Travel Air 2000
first production model
SC-2000
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.
A-4000
powered by a 150-hp (112-kW) Axelson engine
B-4000
powered by a 220-hp (164-kW) Wright J-5 engine
BC-4000
floatplane version
B9-4000
powered by a 300-hp (224-kW) Wright J-6-9 engine
C-4000
powered by a 170-hp (127-kW) Challenger engine
E-4000
powered by a 165-hp (123-kW) Wright J-6-5 engine
K-4000
powered by a 100-hp (75-kW) Kinner K5 engine
SBC-4000
floatplane version
W-4000
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).[20]
CW-A14D Deluxe Sportsman
Three-seat version with 240 hp (180 kW) Wright J-6-7 engine and NACA cowling (5 built).[20]
CW-B14B Speedwing Deluxe
Version with 300 hp (220 kW) Wright J-6-9 engine (2 built).[20]
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

Operators[edit]

Military operators[edit]

 Bolivia
20 purchased 1933–34.[21]
 Colombia
3 from 1932.[21]
 Ecuador
2 CW-14Rs purchased 1931.[21]
 Panama
2 acquired 1931.[21]
 El Salvador
3 from 1933.[21]
 Venezuela
3 CW-14Rs purchased 1932.[21]

Aircraft on display[edit]

Museum aircraft include:[22]

Surviving aircraft[edit]

A number of Travel Air biplanes and monoplanes participated in the 2003 National Air Tour,[23][24][25] and the 2008 American Barnstormers Tour.[25][26]

A Travel Air 2000, stored since 1937, was restored and flown in 2014.[5]

An airworthy Travel Air 4000 is flown regularly by Northwest Airlines captain Clay Adams, (a.k.a. "Nostalgic Wings"), at airshows and fly-ins around the nation, selling rides.[27] Along with other Travel Air biplanes, Adams' 4000 participated in the 2003 National Air Tour[23][24] and the 2006 and 2008 American Barnstormers Tour, which Adams organized.,[26][28] and flew in 2003 for the TV-documentary film The Barnstormers[29]

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.[30]

Specifications (CW-A14D)[edit]

Data from Specifications of American Airplanes[31]

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)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 155 mph (249 km/h; 135 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 132 mph (212 km/h; 115 kn)
  • Stall speed: 56 mph (90 km/h; 49 kn)
  • Range: 530 mi (461 nmi; 853 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,500 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes
  1. ^ a b c Simpson 2007, p. 553
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Phillips, Edward H., book: Travel Air: Wings Over the Prairie, 1982, Wind Canyon Books, ISBN 9780911139174. (revised ed., Flying Books International, 1994, Eagan, MN, ISBN 0-911139-17-6)
  3. ^ a b c d e f Phillips, Edward H., "An Abridged History of Travel Air," March, 2000, Travel Air Log, as reproduced on the TARA-History page of the Travel Air Restorers Association, retrieved January 28, 2017
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Bissionette, Bruce, The Wichita 4: Cessna, Moellendick, Beech and Stearman, 1999, Aviation Heritage, Destin FL ISBN 0-943691-50-8
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Wilkinson, Stephan, "'Wichita Fokker' Takes Flight," February 28, 2014, Aviation History, as posted on HistoryNet.com retrieved January 7, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Cooper, Ann Lewis and Sharon Rajnus, Stars of the Sky, Legends All,, 2008, Zenith Imprint, ISBN 9781610607520, retrieved January 28, 2017
  7. ^ a b c d "1929 Travel Air 4000," exhibit notes, Fantasy of Flight Museum, retrieved January 28, 2017
  8. ^ a b c Hagedorn, Dan and Antonio L. Sapienza, Aircraft of the Chaco War 1928-1935, Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., Atglen, Pa., 1997
  9. ^ "World's First Steam Driven Airplane" Popular Science, July 1933, detailed article with drawings
  10. ^ George & William Besler (April 29, 2011). The Besler Steam Plane (YouTube). Bomberguy. 
  11. ^ Where have all the Dobles gone, The Steam Automobile, Vol 7 No 1, Spring 1965, page 23
  12. ^ Simpson 2001, p. 553
  13. ^ a b "Book Review: Aircraft of the Chaco War 1928-1935 (Dan Hagedorn and Antonio L. Sapienza)," August 11, 2001, Aviation History Magazine in HistoryNet.com, retrieved January 28, 2017
  14. ^ a b Colangelo, Anthony J., "Constitutional Limits on Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: Terrorism and the Intersection of National and International Law," Harvard International Law Journal, Volume 48, Number 1, Winter 2007, retrieved January 28, 2017
  15. ^ "The Travel Air 4000 – a Working Ag Plane," May 19, 2014, The Heidrick Ag Museum, retrieved January 28, 2017
  16. ^ "Travel Air 4000 1928-1936," in "Aircraft By Type," Delta Museum, retrieved January 28, 2017
  17. ^ "What's New," page, Travel Air Restorers Association website, retrieved January 28, 2017
  18. ^ a b Harris, Richard, "Early Movies" sub-section, "Motion Pictures" section, Wichita Aircraft in TV, Video & Film, website of The Wichita Aviation Centennial. retrieved Janualry 28, 2017
  19. ^ "Aviation Films," Aerofiles.com
  20. ^ a b c Bowers 1979, p. 404.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Hagedorn 1992, p. 72.
  22. ^ Ogden 2007, p. 541
  23. ^ a b 2003 National Air Tour official website, retrieved 7 January 2017.
  24. ^ a b Sargent, Sparky Barnes, "Back to Blakesburg," October 6, 2013, General Aviation News, retrieved January 7, 2017
  25. ^ Godlewski, Meg (editor), "Relive the Golden Age of Aviation: You, too, can be a barnstormer-or just fly with one," February 16, 2007, General Aviation News, retrieved 7 January 2017.
  26. ^ Clark/Nikdel/Powell (2013-10-17). "1929 Travel Air 4000". Fantasy of Flight. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
  27. ^ Aviation March 1936, pp. 82–83.
Bibliography

External links[edit]

Media related to Travel Air 2000 at Wikimedia Commons