Curtiss XF13C

The Curtiss XF13C was a prototype for a fighter aircraft that could be converted between a parasol wing monoplane and a biplane while in service, reflecting uncertainty in some Naval circles about the best configuration for a fighter aircraft

The aircraft was ordered on 23 November 1932 as a ship-borne fighter. In the XF13C-1 configuration it was a parasol wing cabin monoplane, with the wing mounted on top of the enclosed cockpit, and a retractable undercarriage that pull back into the front of the fuselage. When it was completed in December 1933 it was powered by a 600hp Wright XR-1510-A2 twin-row radial engine, but this was soon replaced by a 700hp SGR-1510-12. The aircraft was armed with one .30in and one .50in fixed forward firing machine gun, and was equipped with arrester gear, making it suitable for carrier operations.

The aircraft was completed as the XF13C-2 sesquiplane, with a small lower wing that increased wing area from 204.3 sq ft to 281.7 sq ft (the upper wing being two and a half times larger than the lower). It made its maiden flight, as a sesquiplane, in December 1933.

The lower wing was quickly removed and the aircraft made its first flight as the XF13C-1 on 7 January 1934. The monoplane version was faster and generally superior although the sesquiplane did have a shorter take-off run and better low-speed handling.

The aircraft was delivered to the Navy on 10 February 1934, in its monoplane configuration. After spending a year with the Navy it was returned to Curtiss in February 1935 for modifications. The most obvious of these was a reduction in the height of the vertical tail, after the Navy discovered that the tail was too tall to pass under the wings of another F13C, making it harder to use in the cramped conditions on a carrier. The modified aircraft, the XF13C-3, underwent tests that lasted until October 1935. 

Engine: Wright XR-1510-12 two-row radial engine
Power: 700hp at 7,000ft
Crew: 1
Span: 35ft 0in
Length: 25ft 9.5in
Height: 9ft 9.5in
Empty weight: 3,241lb
Loaded weight: 4,141lb
Max speed: 242mph 
Climb Rate: 2.5 mins to 5,000ft
Service ceiling: 25,050ft
Armament: Two machine guns

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 February 2013), Curtiss XF13C ,

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