Navy TS-1

The Navy TS-1 was a small scout aircraft that was the first US Navy fighter specifically designed to operate from an aircraft carrier. The TS-1 was designed by the Bureau of Aeronautics, but most were produced by Curtiss. It was an unusual looking biplane, with gaps between the fuselage and both the upper and lower wings.

The wings were un-staggered and of equal chord. The upper wing was level, the lower wing had a slight dihedral. The fuel tank was carried in a bulge in the centre section of the lower wing.  The wings were connected by diagonal struts, which removed the need for bracing wires. It was powered by the 200hp Lawrence J-1 air-cooled radial engine, which later became the Wright Whirlwind.

Navy TS-1 of VF-1, USS Langley (CV-1), 1923
Navy TS-1 of VF-1,
USS Langley (CV-1), 1923

The TS-1 could operate as a land plane, with a standard fixed undercarriage, or as a float plane. The TS designation stood for Turret Scout, suggesting that it was designed to operate from platforms mounted above gun turrets, but it was actually built for use on the new carrier USS Langley, which was commissioned early in 1922. Curtiss was awarded a contract to produce 34 TS-1s, and the first arrived in May 1922, two months after the Langley. The Naval Aircraft Factory produced another five standard TS-1s to make sure that Curtiss weren't overcharging the Navy.

The TS-1 served with Squadron VF-1, which operated it as a land plane from the USS Langley, and with floats from battleships (during 1925-26). The TS-1 was also used as a float plane by Squadron VO-1, which operated it from battleships, cruisers and destroyers from 1922 (starting with tests on the USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294)). None of these ships carried catapults, so the TS-1s were lowered into the water using cranes before taking off from the sea.

Navy TS-1 Scout Aircraft in Formation, 1920s
Navy TS-1 Scout Aircraft in Formation, 1920s

Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 Floatplane on USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294)
Naval Aircraft Factory TS-1 Floatplane on USS Charles Ausburn (DD-294)

The Naval Aircraft Factory produced four examples of two experimental versions of the TS alongside the five standard TS-1s. The TS-2 used a 240 Aeromarine engine and the TS-3 used a 180hp Wright-Hispano E. Two examples were produced of each type.

The second TS-3 was converted into the TR-2 race. It was given a different aerofoil and entered unsuccessfully into the 1922 Curtiss Marine Trophy Race. It was then modified again and used as a racing trainer during the 1923 Schneider Cup.

The final version of the TS was an all-metal aircraft produced by Curtiss as the F4C-1.

Landplane Specifications
Engine: Lawrence J-1 (later Wright J-4)
Power: 200hp
Crew: 1
Span: 25ft 5/16in
Length: 22ft 1 3/16in
Height: 8ft 11 15/16in
Empty weight: 1,239lb
Gross weight: 1,927.5lb
Maximum take-off weight:
Max speed: 131mph
Cruising speed: 104.8mph
Climb Rate: 1,280ft/ min
Service ceiling: 14,400ft
Range: 448 miles
Armament: One fixed forward firing 0.30in Browning machine gun

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 February 2013), Navy TS-1 ,

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