Curtiss-Wright CW-19

The Curtiss-Wright CW-19 began life as a civilian cabin cruiser but soon became a light military aircraft , and the basis of the CW-21 Demon fighter and CW-22 / SNC-1 Falcon light attack and trainer.


The CW-19 was developed in response to a request from the Bureau of Air Commerce, which wanted aircraft companies to develop light aircraft for the civilian market using the most advanced construction methods. Curtiss responded with the Model CW-19. This was a low wing monoplane, with an all metal fuselage, and a strong wing that would late be used on the CW-21 and CW-22 with very few changes. The wing had a tapered leading edge and straight trailing edge. On the CW-19 it was given a fixed undercarriage, with the main wheels carried within large spats. The later aircraft used a variety of types of retracting wheels.

The CW-19L had a standard cabin cruiser layout, with the two crew sitting side by side behind a windscreen, and with car style doors on either side. It was powered by the 90hp Lambert R-266 and had a Curtiss-Reed fixed pitch propeller. The sole example was purchased by the American government in 1935.


The CW-19L was felt to be rather under powered, so it was re-engined with a 145hp Warner Super Scarab. This improved its performance, but made it too ‘hot’ for most private pilots, so development of the civil version ended, and Curtiss focused on the military version instead. It isn’t clear if the CW-19L and CW-19W used the same airframe or not.


The resulting CW-19R kept the wings and undercarriage of the earlier versions, but with a modified fuselage. The most obvious change was that the cabin cockpit was replaced with a standard military style tandem arrangement, with a sliding canopy. The military version was given larger and more powerful engines, so the size of the fuselage reduced just behind the engine. The tail was also modified, with the vertical area increased, and the horizontal surfaces moved slightly forward. The overall dimensions remained the same. The CW-19R could carry up to four guns – one fixed forward firing gun in the fuselage, two carried on the outboard side of the undercarriage and one rear firing flexibly mounted gun. They could also carry bomb racks under the wings. The CW-19R was normally powered by a 350hp Wright R-760E2 Whirlwind, but could take a 450hp engine.

One CW-19R was sent to China in the summer of 1937 as a demonstrator. This aircraft was probably purchased by the Chinese Air Force, but it was lost in a crash on 5 January 1938 and two American pilots were killed. Some sources say that twenty aircraft were sold to China, but this is a misreading of the detailed Curtiss Aircraft, which states that twenty were sold ‘to China and South American Countries’. The South American aircraft included ten to Bolivia, two to the Dominican Republic and six to Equador.

Either Three or Five CW-19Rs were sold to Cuba.


The CW-A19R was an unarmed version of the CW-19R, that could be powered by the same engines as the standard US Army basic training aircraft of the period. This version was also registered for the civilian market for use as a possible racer. Three were built  - one as a demonstrator, one that sold privately, and one that was used as the basis for the sole Curtiss-Wright CW-23.

Related Aircraft

Curtiss-Wright CW-21 Demon

The CW-21 Demon was a lightweight single seat fighter that used the wings from the CW-19, with a new fuselage. It was exported to  the Dutch East Indies where it saw service against the Japanese and to China, although none of these aircraft entered service.

Curtiss-Wright CW-22/ SNC-1 Falcon

The CW-22/ SNC Falcon was a light attack aircraft and basic trainer that was exported to the Dutch East Indies, Turkey and Latin America, as well as being produced in larger numbers as a basic trainer for the US Navy.

Curtiss-Wright CW-23

The Curtiss-Wright Model CW-23 was a prototype for a Basic Combat aircraft, a new Army specification for an armed advanced trainer. It was based on the CW-19R, although built using the third CW-A19R. It was powered by a 600hp Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, and gained the inward retracting undercarriage of the CW-21B. It kept the tandem seating of the CW-19R, but with a fixed cockpit canopy, and car type doors. The CW-23 was heavier that the CW-19R, but also much faster, with a top speed of 330mph. The single example was tested by the Army in 1939, but not placed into production. 

Engine: Wright R-760E2
Power: 350hp
Crew: 2
Span: 35ft
Length: 26ft 4in
Height: 7ft 2in
Empty weight: 1,992lb
Gross weight: 3,500b
Max speed: 185mph
Climb Rate: 1,890ft/ min
Service ceiling:
Armament: One to three fixed and one flexibly mounted machine gun
Bomb load: Unspecified

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 June 2020), Curtiss-Wright CW-19 ,

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