The Curtiss MF was a single seat flying boat introduced to replace the older Model F, and that saw some service after the end of the First World War.
The Curtiss Model F was one of the earliest effective flying boats to be developed, and had evolved from the Curtiss Flying-Boat No.2, the first successful flying boat. It was a biplane, with a single pusher engine. It was produced in a number of different versions, ending with a 1917 model that introduced new controls and a more powerful Curtiss OXX engine.
The first attempt to replace the Model F was the Curtiss Model BA. This was an odd design, with a tractor engine and the two man crew sitting behind the wings. This was rebuilt as a pusher, with the crew in front of the wings. The original version became the Model BAT, the second version the Model BAP. The BAP became the basis of the Model MF.
The Curtiss MF was developed from the Model BAP, with minor improvements. Like many flying boats of the period it had a flat sided fuselage, with the wider boat hull attached as sponsons. This resembles the system developed by John Porte of the RNAS, in which the fuselage was built in two sections – a simple box structure for the main fuselage, which could be built fairly easily, and a separate boat hull that was attached to it. This method was used on the British Felixstowe F.2A, and the American built Curtiss H-16 and looks very similar to the fuselage of the MF.
The Curtiss MF combined the new fuselage with unequal span wings similar to those of later Model Fs, but with a wider wingspan. It used the same Curtiss OXX engine as the 1917 version of the Model F. It carried a crew of two, sitting side by side in an open cockpit.
The Curtiss MF interested the US Navy, which placed an initial order for six examples. This was followed by a second order for 47 aircraft, but only 16 of these were delivered before the contract was cancelled after the end of the war. However the Model MF was enough of an improvement as a trainer on the Model F for the Naval Aircraft Factory to built another 80 after the end of the war.
Curtiss also made an attempt to sell the MF on the civilian market, as the Curtiss Seagull. This version used a variety of engines, including 160hp Wright-Hispano or Curtiss K-6 engines, and could carry up to four people. Curtiss also produced an amphibious version. However the Seagull wasn’t a commercial success, especially after the Navy began to sell off surplus MFs.
Engine: Curtiss OXX
Crew: 2 – pilot and instructor
Span: 49ft 9in
Length: 28ft 10in
Height: 11ft 7in
Empty weight: 1,850lb
Gross weight: 2,488lb
Maximum take-off weight:
Max speed: 72mph at sea level
Climb Rate: 10min to 2,400ft
Service ceiling: 4,100ft
Range: 345 miles