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Curtiss SC Seahawk


The Curtiss SC Seahawk, developed by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company, served as a reconnaissance seaplane for the United States Navy in World War II.

As the war progressed and peace was restored, the Seahawk gradually took over the roles previously fulfilled by the Curtiss SO3C Seamew and Vought OS2U Kingfisher.

Work commenced in June of 1942, subsequent to a solicitation for observation seaplane proposals from the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics.

Curtiss presented the Seahawk design on 1 August 1942, and was granted a contract for two prototypes and five service test aircraft on 25 August.

A production order for 500 SC-1s was placed in June 1943, before the prototypes took their inaugural flight.

Although primarily designed to accommodate the pilot, a sleeping area was included in the rear section of the fuselage to facilitate rescue operations or personnel transportation.

The wings of the aircraft were equipped with two 0.5 inch (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns, while the underwing hardpoints allowed for the carriage of 250 lb (113 kg) bombs or surface-scan radar on the right wing.

Notably, the wings were foldable for convenience.

However, the main float, originally intended to house a bomb bay, experienced significant leakage issues when utilised for that purpose.

Consequently, it underwent modifications to serve as an auxiliary fuel tank instead.

On 16th February 1944, the inaugural flight of the XSC-1 prototype occurred at the Curtiss plant in Columbus, Ohio.

The flight-testing phase persisted until 28th April, when the final pre-production aircraft, one of seven, embarked on its maiden flight.

Subsequently, nine additional prototypes were constructed, featuring a modified cockpit and an additional seat, designated SC-2.

However, the production of this series was not pursued.

The initial batch of Seahawks, which marked the commencement of serial production, was delivered to USS Guam on 22 October 1944.

All 577 aircraft manufactured for the Navy were equipped with conventional landing gear and transported to the appropriate Naval Air Station.

Subsequently, floats were installed as required to enable their service.

The Seahawk possessed the versatility to accommodate either float or wheeled landing gear, making it arguably the finest floatplane scout employed by the United States during World War II.

However, due to its prolonged development period, it entered active duty too late to participate significantly in the war.

It was not until June 1945, during the pre-invasion bombardment of Borneo, that the Seahawk finally engaged in military operations.

As the war drew to a close, seaplanes gradually lost their appeal, leading to the Seahawk’s eventual replacement by helicopters.

The Seahawk’s appearance adhered to the tri-colour camouflage and markings specified by the US Navy regulations of 1944, 1945, and subsequent postwar regulations.






SC-1 float-equipped.




Facility for single stretcher patient


36 ft 4.5 in (11.087 m)


41 ft 0 in (12.50 m)


16 ft 0 in (4.88 m) on beaching gear

Wing area

280 sq ft (26 m2)



NACA 23017


NACA 23010

Empty weight

6,320 lb (2,867 kg)

Gross weight

9,000 lb (4,082 kg)


1 × Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine,

1,350 hp (1,010 kW)


4-bladed constant-speed propeller


Maximum speed

313 mph (504 km/h, 272 kn) at 28,600 ft (8,700 m)

Cruise speed

125 mph (201 km/h, 109 kn)


625 mi (1,006 km, 543 nmi)

Service ceiling

37,300 ft (11,400 m)

Rate of climb

2,500 ft/min (13 m/s)



2 × .50 in (12.70 mm) M2 Browning machine guns


2 × 325 lb (147 kg) bombs under wings.


Curtiss Aircraft 1907-47-Peter M Bowers.

Curtiss Company Profile 1907–1947-Martyn Chorlton.

The Official Monogram US Navy & Marine Corps Aircraft Color Guide-1940-1949-John M Elliot.

United States Navy Aircraft since 1911-Gordon Swanborough & Peter M Bowers.

US Army Navy Journal of Recognition Issues 13-16.

US Navy Floatplanes of World War 2 In Action-Squadron Signal 203.

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