Military History Books
by Harold A. Skaarup   www.SilverHawkAuthor.com   
 
Canadian Warplanes 2: The Biplane Era, Curtiss and Curtiss-Reid biplanes biplanes

Curtiss and Curtiss-Reid biplanes

Data current to 18 Nov 2019.

(City of Vancouver Archives Photo)

Curtis HS-2l, RCAF Reg. No. G-CYDU, dropping a parachutist, ca 1920. 

 (Photo courtesy of the Shearwater Aviation Museum)

Curtiss HS-2L (Serial No. 1876) being launched at Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, 1918.

 (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss HS-2L (Serial No. G-CYAH) on the water.  

 (RCAF Photo)

Curtiss HS-2L, RCAF (Serial No. G-CAAC) on the water. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 338992)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CADQ, Ontario Provincial Air Service, 1925. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643591)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CYDS, Canadian Air Board, 1 July 1921.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643587)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CYDT, Canadian Air Board, Victoria Beach, Manitoba, 3 Aug 1921. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3643588)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CYDT, Canadian Air Board, Victoria Beach, Manitoba, 3 Aug 1921.  

 (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CACT, Northern Air Service. 

 (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss HS-2L, G-CAAC, Laurentide Air Service, on the water, cA 1920s.  

 (Author Photos)

Curtiss HS-2L, Laurentide Air Service, hull (Serial No. A1876), (2901-H2, wings of NC652), G-CAAC.  This is the only complete HS-2L in the world. It is a reconstruction of G-CAAC La Vigilance, which belonged to Laurentide Air Service Limited, the world’s first bush-flying company.  The original La Vigilance was the company’s first aircraft; it was built in 1918 and made the first bush flight in Canada in 1919.  That same year, Stuart Graham, Canada’s first professional bush pilot and a member of Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame, began his civilian career in La Vigilance, and his wife, Madge Graham, became the first Canadian woman to participate in flight when she accompanied him between Nova Scotia and Quebec.  On 2 September 1922 La Vigilance crashed into Foss Lake, Ontario, where it remained until 1967, when Donald Campbell of Kapuskasing reported the location of the wreck at the bottom of the lake.  The hull, along with metal parts and fittings from the aircraft, was retrieved by the Museum during a salvage operation between 1968 and 1969.  The original hull was preserved separately and is displayed next to the reconstructed aircraft, which was built using parts from three different HS-2Ls.  Restoration of this HS-2L lasted from 1970 until 1986, making it the largest and longest restoration project the Canada Air & Space Museum has undertaken.  (CA&SM)

Curtiss HS-2L (30) Reg. Nos. G-CYAE-G-CYAH, G-CYBA, G-CYBB, G-CYDR-G-CYDU, G-CYDX, G-CYDY, G-CYEA, G-CYEB, G-CYED, G-CYEF, G-CYEJ-EL, G-CYGA, G-CYGL-GU.

 (City of Vancouver Archives Photo, AM640-S1-: CVA 260-2057)

Curtiss JN-4D trainer, ca 1918. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3263321)

Curtiss JN-4.

 (Library & Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194479)

Curtiss JN-4, C332, in flight.

 (Library & Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390045)

Curtiss JN-4D formation, ca 1918.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390048)

Curtiss JN-4 (C282), Ottawa, 26 Aug 1918. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390073)

Curtiss JN-4, C282, Winnipeg, Toronto, 27 Aug 1918.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3408621)

Curtiss JN-4, Victory Loan Parade, 1917. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3408632)

Curtiss JN-4, Victory Loan Parade, 1918.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390042)

Curtiss JN-4, Long Branch, Quebec, 13 Oct 1915. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404197)

Curtiss JN-4 aircrew gunnery training, Camp Borden, 1917. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404272)

Curtiss JN-4 Lewis Gun, aerial gunnery training, Camp Borden, 1917. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404263)

Curtiss JN-4 with .303-inch Vickers Machine Gun mounted for training, School of Aerial Gunnery, Beamsville, Ontario, 1918.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404168)

Curtiss JN-4 with synchronized .303-inch Vickers MG, Camp Borden, 1917. 

  (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss JN-4D, No. 13. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.  3390052)

Curtiss JN-4, RFC, School of Aerial Gunnery, Camp Beamsville, Ontairo, 1918.  

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390045)

Curtiss JN-4D formation flight, ca 1920s. 

  (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss JN-4D. 

 (Author Photo)

Curtiss/Canadian Aeroplanes JN-4 Canuck, RFC (Serial No. C1347), G-CAAI, G-CATE, "City of Edmonton".  Reynolds Aviation Museum, Wetaskiwin, Alberta.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.  3390051)

Curtiss JN-4s fitted with skis, Camp Leaside, Ontario, 1917. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No.  3404496)

Curtiss JN-4s fitted with skis, Camp Leaside, Ontario, 1917. 

  (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

Curtiss JN-4D, G-CYDC. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194478)

Lecture on rigging, using a Curtiss JN-4 Canuck, No. 4 School of Aeronautics, University of Toronto, Ontario, ca. 1917.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3194478)

Class on construction using a Curtiss JN-4 fuselage, No. 4 School of Aeronautics, University of Toronto, Ontario, ca. 1917.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404213)

Class on construction, Hart House, No. 4 School of Aeronautics University of Toronto, Ontario, 1917-18.  Sopwith Camel, RAF B.E.2, RAF F.E.2 Gunbus, Curtiss JN-4, de Havilland D.H.4.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404545)

Curtiss JN-4 used as an air ambulance, Camp Leaside, Ontario, RFC, 1918.  

(Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3404546)

Curtiss JN-4 used as an air ambulance, Camp Leaside, Ontario, RFC, 1918. 

Curtiss JN-4 Canuck (Jenny), (10) Registration No’s G-CYCN-CP, DC-DG, DV, DW. 

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3204718)

Curtiss-Reid Rambler Mk. I, CF-ABT, Cartierville, PQ, 1931.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3390108)

Curtiss Reid Rambler Mk. II, RCAF Reg. No. G-CYXC.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 3256155)

Curtiss Reid Rambler Mk. II, RCAF Reg. No. G-CYXC.

Curtiss-Reid Rambler Mk. I (7), (Serial Nos. 145-150), A62 (ex CF-BV), Mk. II (2) Reg. Nos. G-CYXC, G-CYXD, for a total of 9 aircraft.

 (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

 (Photo courtesy of the Canadian Aviation Preservation Association)

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5107543)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver two-seat scout bomber and dive bomber aircraft in French Aéronavale colours, being delivered across the border between Canada and the USA at Houlton, Maine, and Woodstock, New Brunswick, prior to Dec 1941.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5107544)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver two-seat scout bomber and dive bomber aircraft in French Aéronavale colours, being delivered across the border between Canada and the USA at Houlton, Maine, and Woodstock, New Brunswick, prior to Dec 1941..

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5107675)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver two-seat scout bomber and dive bomber aircraft in French Aéronavale colours, being delivered across the border between Canada and the USA at Houlton, Maine, and Woodstock, New Brunswick, prior to Dec 1941.

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo, MIKAN No. 5107677)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver two-seat scout bomber and dive bomber aircraft in French Aéronavale colours, being delivered across the border between Canada and the USA at Houlton, Maine, and Woodstock, New Brunswick, prior to Dec 1941.  The Mobilgas sign behind the pole was a filling station beside the US Customs Office.

When the Second World War began in 1939, Britain and France sent envoys to the USA to buy military aircraft.  Early in 1940, the French government placed an order with Curtiss-Wright for 90 Curtiss SBC-4 Helldiver biplanes. In order to aid them, on 6 June 1940, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Administration ordered the US Navy to fly 50 SBC-4s of the Naval Reserve that were at the time in use by the Navy, to the Curtiss-Wright factory in Buffalo, New York where the 50 planes were to be refurbished to French standards.  This included removing all US markings on instruments and equipment, replacing the American machine guns with French 7.7-mm (.303-inch) Darne machine guns and repainting the aircraft in French camouflage colours and national markings.  Once converted, the aircraft were to be delivered to RCAF Station Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where they were to be loaded onto the French aircraft carrier Béarn.

Several neutrality acts had been passed by the US Congress and signed into law and the Neutrality Act of 1939 allowed for arms trade with belligerent nations (Great Britain and France) on a "cash-and-carry" basis.  This arrangement allowed the the USA to sell materiel to belligerents, as long as the recipients arranged for the transport using their own ships or planes and paid immediately in cash.  Because of this provision, the US could not fly military aircraft into Canada; they had to land in the US and be towed across the Canada–US border.  The 50 aircraft were flown from Buffalo, New York to Houlton Airport, Maine via Burlington, Vermont and Augusta, Maine. Houlton is on the Canada–US border and local farmers used their tractors to tow the planes into New Brunswick, where the Canadians closed the Woodstock highway so that aircraft could use it as a runway.  The Helldivers were then flown to RCAF Station Dartmouth.

 (USAAC Photo)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldivers in the colours of the French Aeronavale on the Ramp.

 (Jum Bates Photo)

Curtiss SBC-4 Helldivers of the Aéronavale, being delivered via an RCAF barge, to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

The 50 SBC-4s were to be flown to RCAF Station Dartmouth in groups of three.  One of the first groups that left encountered rain and fog while flying between Buffalo and Albany, New York and one of the aircraft crashed.  The remaining 49 aircraft were successfully flown to Nova Scotia to be loaded onto Béarn and the light cruiser Jeanne d'Arc.  Because of space limitations, only 44 of the SBC-4s could be carried on FR Béarn; because she also had 25 Stinson Model HW-75s (also known as Stinson 105s), 17 Curtiss H75-A1s (US Army Air Corps P-36 Hawk and six Brewster F2A-2 Buffalos for the Belgian Air Force.  The Jeanne d'Arc carried 14 crated, unassembled aircraft, eight Stinson Model HW-75s and six Curtiss H75-A1s.

The two ships sailed from Halifax on 16 June 1940 bound for Brest, France.  Two days later, Brest fell into German hands and both ships were ordered to Fort-de-France, Martinique, in the French West Indies, an island in the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea.  They arrived on 27 June, five days after France surrendered to the Germans.  The SBC-4s were unloaded and rolled to a field at the Pointe des Sables region and stored in the open.  Under tropical climatic conditions, the aircraft stored in the open slowly rotted, became no longer airworthy and were eventually scrapped.

 (RAF Photo)

Curtiss Cleveland Mk. I, RAF (Serial No. 2669M).

Five of the French aircraft could not fit on FR Béarn and were left at RCAF Station Dartmouth.  In August 1940, the RAF acquired them, designated them "Cleveland Mk. Is" and shipped them to England on the aircraft carrier HMS Furious They were assembled at RAF Burtonwood, Lancashire, and delivered to RAF Little Rissington, Gloucestershire and later used by No. 24 (Communications) Squadron at RAF Hendon, Middlesex, in the UK.  These aircraft were never used operationally and became ground trainers.  (https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Curtiss_SBC_Helldiver)