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Curtiss Model N

The Curtiss Model N was a military trainer used primarily by the United States Navy during World War I.

The Model N was a two-seat biplane similar to the Model J, differing in the airfoil and placement of the ailerons, which were mounted between the wings.

It was powered by a 90-100 hp Curtiss OX inline engine.

Due to legal issues with the Wright brothers over the use of ailerons, the sole Model N was modified by locking the ailerons and increasing dihedral to seven degrees in an effort to prove that aircraft could be flown without ailerons or wing warping.

The most prolific variant, the N-9, was a floatplane equipped with a single central pontoon mounted under the fuselage.

A small float was fitted under each wingtip.

With the additional weight of the pontoon, a number of structural and aerodynamic changes were required, the design of which made use of wind tunnel data developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, meaning the N-9 was the first American naval aircraft to incorporate wind tunnel data directly into its design.

The wingspan was stretched an additional ten feet (three metres), the fuselage was lengthened, the tail surfaces were enlarged, and stabilizing fins were added on top of the upper wing.

The N-9 was initially powered by a 100 hp (75 kW) Curtiss OXX-6 engine.

Curtiss was awarded an initial contract for 30 aircraft in August 1916, and an additional 14 were ordered by the United States Army, which maintained a small seaplane operation.

It quickly became apparent that the aircraft was underpowered, so Curtiss replaced the engine with a 150 hp (112 kW) Hispano-Suiza, manufactured in the United States under license by Wright-Martin’s Simplex division (later Wright Aeronautical).

The aircraft was redesignated N-9H.

A total of 560 N-9s were built during World War I, most of which were “H” models.

Only 100 were actually built by Curtiss.

Most were built under license by the Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Fifty others were assembled after the war, from spare components and engines by the U.S. Navy at Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida.

The first flight of the Model N took place in 1915.

The United States Army purchased the aircraft for evaluation, but Curtiss repossessed it due to legal issues with the Wright brothers.

Over 2,500 U.S. Navy pilots received their seaplane training in N-9s.

Besides this primary role, though, the aircraft was also used to help develop shipborne aircraft operations during World War I, especially the development of ship-mounted launch catapults.

In 1917, several N-9s were provided to the Sperry Gyroscope Company for conversion to the Hewitt-Sperry Automatic Airplane configuration, flight testing the new autopilot components intended to be used in pilotless “aerial torpedoes”.

The U.S. Navy retired the N-9s in 1927 as more modern trainers became available.


Model N

1914 two-seat trainer powered by 100 hp (75 kW) Curtiss OXX engine, similar to Model J but with different airfoil section.

One built for US Army.

Later rebuilt as Model O with side-by side seating.

Model N-8

Production version of N for US Army, powered by 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-2 engine.

Equivalent to JN-3.

Four built 1915.

Model N-9

Two-seat single-engined trainer floatplane.

Model N-9N

Powered by a 150 hp (112 kW) Wright A piston engine.

Model N-9C

The original N-9 floatplane with the 100 hp (75 kW) engine, later became known as the N-9C.

Model N-9H

Main production variant powered by 150 hp (112 kW) Hispano-Suiza

Murray-Carnes all steel airplane

This aircraft was an all-steel development of the Curtiss N-9 requested by Secretary Daniels of the Navy Department in 1918 from the J.W. Murray Mfg. Co. of Detroit.

Model O

The Model O was a rebuilt Model N with side-by-side seating and a Daimler engine.





30 ft 10 in (9.40 m)


53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)


10 ft 11 in (3.33 m)

Wing area

496 sq ft (46.1 m2)

Empty weight

2,140 lb (971 kg)

Gross weight

2,750 lb (1,247 kg)


1 × Wright-Hisso A V-8 water-cooled piston engine,

150 hp (110 kW)


2-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller


Maximum speed

78 mph (126 km/h, 68 kn)

Service ceiling

6,600 ft (2,000 m)

Time to altitude

3,240 ft (990 m) in 10 minutes.

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