Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Curtiss Wanamaker Triplane

In 1915, Curtiss was commissioned to develop a new large flying boat to perform the first ever transatlantic flight. Curtiss would develop a massive triplane, designated the Model T, with each successive wing being larger than the one below it. The six-bay wings had a maximum span of 133 feet, and the design was projected to have a loaded weight of about 10 tons. 

The impressive projected endurance and payload capacity of the design caught the attention of the British Royal Navy Air Service, who placed an order for 20 examples. Original plans called for six engines to drive three propellers, but the planned engines were not ready when the prototype was completed, so the aircraft was shipped across the Atlantic for testing by the British. There, it was fitted with four Renault 240hp engines, (only to be refitted with four 250 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engines), making it the first ever American-built four-engined aircraft. 

When the Model T took flight for the first time in 1916, it was the largest flying boat in the world. Unfortunately, this flight would be its last. It was damaged beyond repair during its maiden flight, and the RNAS decided to cancel the order for 19 more aircraft.

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