In a flying boat, the main source of buoyancy is the fuselage, which acts like a ship’s hull in the water. Most flying boats have small floats mounted on their wings to keep them stable. All large seaplanes have been flying boats, their great weight supported on their hull.

American Flying Boats 1913

Curtiss Model F

Curtiss Model F
Curtiss Model F-4 – 1913

The Curtiss Models F made up a family of early flying boats developed in the United States in the years leading up to World War I. Widely produced, Model Fs saw service with the United States Navy under the designations C-2 through C-5, later reclassified to AB-2 through AB-5. Several examples were exported to Russia, and the type was built under licence in Italy.

In configuration, these were biplane flying boats powered by a single engine mounted amongst the interplane struts and driving a pusher propeller. The pilot and a single passenger sat side-by-side in an open cockpit. The wing cellule was derived from the Model E landplane and was of two-bay, unstaggered, equal-span construction with large ailerons mounted on the interplane struts and extending past the span of the wings themselves. The earliest examples of this design were built and sold by Curtiss in 1912 without any designation applied to them; the Model F name only coming into use the following year. Confusingly, Curtiss also used the designation Model E to refer to some early machines in this family, although these were quite distinct from Curtiss landplanes that bore this same designation and all but identical to the Model Fs.
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Curtiss Model F 1917
  • Role: Utility flying boat
  • Manufacturer: Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
  • Designed by: Glenn Curtiss
  • First flight: 12 January 1912
  • Primary users:
  • United States Navy
  • Russian Navy
  • Italian Navy
  • Number built: over 150
  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss OXX-3 V-8, 100 hp (75 kW)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 1⅜ in (13.75 m)
  • Wing area: 387 ft² (36.0 m²)
  • Length: 27 ft 9¾ in (8.47 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 2⅞ in (3.42 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,860 lb (844 kg)
  • Gross weight: 2,460 lb (1,116 kg)
  • Maximum speed: 69 mph (111 km/h)
  • Range: 851 miles (1370 km)
  • Endurance: 5 hours 30 min
  • Service ceiling: 4,500 ft (1,370 m)
  • Rate of climb: 230 ft/min (1.2 m/s) 2,300 ft (700 m): 10 min
  • Crew: Two


  1. Curtiss Model F. (2010, October 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from;=390334667
  2. The Great War Society Aircraft of the A E F Curtiss F Boat Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from
  3. Virtual Aircraft Museum Curtiss Model F 1913 Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from
  4. Aerofiles Those Curtiss Boats Retrieved 12:59, November 1, 2010, from
  5. Bowers, Peter M. (1979). Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam. ISBN 0 370 10029 8.
  6. Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. pp. 193, 278.
  7. The Curtiss Flyleaf. Hammondsport, New York: Glenn H. Curtiss Museum of Local History. 1987.
  8. World Aircraft Information Files. London: Bright Star Publishing. pp. File 891 Sheet 43.

American Flying Boats 1917

Curtiss Model H

Curtiss Model H-12
Curtiss Model H-12

The Curtiss Model H was a family of classes of early long-range flying boats, the first two of which were developed directly on commission in the United States in response to the £10,000 prize challenge issued in 1913 by the London newspaper, the Daily Mail, for the first non-stop aerial crossing of the Atlantic. As the first aircraft having trans-Atlantic range and cargo-carrying capacity, it became the grandfather development leading to early international commercial air travel, and by extension, to the modern world of commercial aviation. The last widely produced class, the Model H-12, was retrospectively designated Model 6 by Curtiss’ company in the 1930s, and various classes have variants with suffixed letters indicating differences.

Having transatlantic range and cargo carrying capacity by design, the first H-2 class (soon dubbed "The Americans" by the Royal Navy) was quickly drafted into wartime use as a patrol and rescue aircraft by the RNAS, the air arm of the British Royal Navy. The original two "contest" aircraft were in fact temporarily seized by the Royal Navy, which later paid for them and placed an initial follow-on order for an additional 12 — all 14 of which were militarized (e.g. by adding gun mounts) and designated the "H-4" (the two originals were thereafter the "H-2" Models to air historians). These changes were produced under contract from Curtiss’ factory in the last order of 50 "H-4s", giving a class total of 64, before the evolution of a succession of larger, more adaptable, and more robust H-class models. This article covers the whole line of nearly 500 Curtiss Model H seaplane flying boat aircraft known to have been produced, since successive models – by whatever sub-model designation – were physically similar, handled similarly, essentially just being increased in size and fitted with larger and improved engines — the advances in internal combustion engine technology in the 1910s being as rapid and explosive as any technological advance has ever been.
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Curtiss Model H-12A
  • Role: Experimental flying boat
  • Manufacturer: Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
  • First flight: June 1914
  • Introduction: 1917
  • Retired: 1918
  • Primary users:
    • United States Navy
    • Royal Naval Air Service
  • Number built: 478
  • Developed from: Curtiss Model E
  • Variants:
    • Felixstowe F.1
    • Felixstowe F.2
  • Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Eagle I, 275 hp (205 kW) each
  • Wingspan: 92.71 ft in (28.26 m)
  • Wing area: 1,216 ft² (113.0 m²)
  • Length: 46.5 ft in (14.18 m)
  • Height: 16.5 ft in (5.03 m)
  • Empty weight: 7,293 lb (3,609 kg)
  • Gross weight: 10,650 lb (5,550 kg)
  • Maximum speed: 85 mph (137 km/h)
  • Endurance: 6 hours
  • Service ceiling: 10,800 ft (3,292 m)
  • Rate of climb: 336 ft/min (1.7 m/s)
  • Crew: Four
  • Armament:
  • Guns: 4 × .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns on flexible mounts
  • Bombs: 4 × 100 lb (45 kg) or 2 × 230 lb (105 kg) bombs below the wings


  1. Curtiss Model H. (2010, August 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 22:05, October 31, 2010, from;=381703213
  2. The Aircraft: Curtiss H.12
  3. Curtiss H.12
  4. Curtiss H-4 America
  5. Reproduction Curtiss H-1 America Flies-September 2008
  6. Roseberry, C.R. "Glenn Curtiss: Pioneer of Flight". Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1972. ISBN 0-81560-264-2.
  7. Shulman, Seth. "Unlocking the Sky: Glen Hammond Curtiss and the Race to Invent the Airplane". New York: Harper Collins, 2002. ISBN 0-06-019633-5.
  8. Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. "United States Navy Aircraft since 1911", Second edition. London: Putnam, 1976, pp. 106–107. ISBN 0-370-10054-9.
  9. Taylor, Michael J.H. "Jane’s Encyclopedia of Aviation". London: Studio Editions, 1989, p. 281. ISBN 0-71060-710-5.
  10. Thetford, Owen. "British Naval Aircraft since 1912", Fourth edition. London: Putnam, 1978, pp. 80–83. ISBN 0-370-30021-1.
  11. "World Aircraft Information Files: File 891", Sheet 44–45. London: Bright Star Publishing, 2002.

American Flying Boats 1918

Curtiss NC

Curtiss NC - 1918
Curtiss NC – 1918

The Curtiss NC (Navy Curtiss, nicknamed "Nancy boat" or "Nancy") was a flying boat built by Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and used by the United States Navy from 1918 through the early 1920s. Ten of these aircraft were built, the most famous of which is the NC-4, the first airplane to make a transatlantic flight. The NC-4 is preserved in the National Museum of Naval Aviation, at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Manufacture of the "NCs" began in 1918 during World War I. The U.S. Navy wished for an aircraft capable of long ocean flights, both for Anti-submarine warfare patrol, and if possible with capability to fly across the Atlantic Ocean under their own power to avoid having to be shipped through ocean waters menaced by German submarines. This was very ambitious given the state of aviation at the time.
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Curtiss NC-4
  • Role: long-range patrol
  • National origin: United States
  • Manufacturer: Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
  • First flight: 4 October 1918
  • Primary user: United States Navy
  • Number built: 10
  • Powerplant: 4 × Liberty L-12 400 hp (300 kW) water-cooled V-12 engines, 400 hp (298 kW) each
  • Wingspan: 126 ft 0 in (38.40 m)
  • Wing area: 2,380 ft² (221 m²)
  • Length: 68 ft 3 in (20.8 m)
  • Height: 24 ft 6 in (7.49 m)
  • Empty weight: 15,874 lb (7,260 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 21,500 lb (9,772 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 27,386 lb (12,422 kg)
  • Maximum speed: 90 mph (78 kn, 152 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 62 mph (54 kn, 100 km/h)
  • Range: 1,470 mi (1,278 nmi, 2,352 km)
  • Service ceiling: 4,500 ft (1,370 m)
  • Wing loading: 11.5 lb/ft² (56.3 kg/m²�)
  • Power/mass: 0.06 hp/lb (10 W/kg)
  • Crew: six
  • Armament: Machine guns in bow and rear cockpits


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  2. "II – A Boat With Wings". The flight across the Atlantic. Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation. Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation. 1919. pp. 24. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  3. Curtiss NC the Virtual Aircraft Museum Retrieved 15:33, February 9, 2011, from
  4. "The U.S. Navy Flying-Boat, N.C. 1" (PDF). Flight XI (20): 637-639. May 15, 1919. No. 542. Retrieved January 12, 2011. Contemporary technical description of the NC-1 in its original three-engine configuration, with photographs and drawings.
  5. Holmes, Tony. Jane’s Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide. London: Harper Collins, 2005. ISBN 0-0071-9292-4.
  6. Steirman, Hy and Glenn D. Kittler. The First Transatlantic Flight, 1919, (originally "Triumph"). New York: Richardson & Sterman, 1986. ISBN 0-931933-19-0.
  7. Wagner, Ray. American Combat Planes. New York: Doubleday, 1982, ISBN 0-385-13120-8.