Model Airplane News|
Model Airplane News Cover Art for July, 1955
by Jo Kotula
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This airplane is a stage in aircraft development that began in 1924 as Curtiss Hawk (Navy F6C and Army P-1)
Photos of the Curtiss Gulfhawk
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The 1932 the Gulfhawk 1A, a "souped up" F6C, was purchased in 1930 by the legendary Al Williams, formerly a chief Navy test pilot. The plane was rebuilt with all-metal fuselage, and painted a distinctive orange. It was flown by Williams for exhibitions promoting Gulf Oil Company products.
Williams lived and breathed aviation and wrote regular columns for newspapers and magazines. He found a club called Junior Aviators which ultimately counted 460,000 members. With Gulfhawk, he staged some 600 air shows consisting of aerobatics with a dive bombing demonstration as finale. (It used live practice bombs against a cardboard"fort" with black gunpowder inside. As the bombs hit, powder was detonated and hut "destroyed" to delight of the audience.
Ernst Udet, a WWI German ace, was impressed with accuracy of dive bombing and bought 2 Hawks to take back to Germany. During WWII, became number-two man for aircraft production and was instrumental in having Ju 87 Stuka, the Do 17, and He 111 designed with heavier structure required for dive bombing. Although initially successful, the added weight required for dive bombing reduced payload and performance in other missions, particularly defense. Williams' dive bombing technique may have helped Luftwaffe initially but, in the long run, the weight penalty probably hurt them.
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