Model Airplane News
June, 1966

Model Airplane News Cover for June, 1966 by Jo Kotula Curtiss SOC2 Seagull

Curtiss SOC2 "Seagull"
Model Airplane News Cover Art for June, 1966
by Jo Kotula
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The Curtiss SOC Seagull was a United States single-engined scout observation biplane aircraft designed by Alexander Solla of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the United States Navy. The aircraft served on battleships and cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. The wings folded back against the fuselage for storage aboard ship. When based ashore the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear. Curtiss delivered 258 SOC aircraft, in version SOC-1 through SOC-4 beginning in 1935. The SOC-3 design was the basis of the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) SON-1 variant. The NAF delivered 64 aircraft from 1940.

 The Curtiss SOC2 Seagull Flotation landing configuration    The Curtiss SOC2 Seagull Flotation Gear Patent No. 2,064,674      The Curtiss SOC2 Seagull Wheeled Landing Gear Configuration

Curtiss SOC2 "Seagull"
Flotation Gear Patent No. 2,064,674
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By the end of the decade, the SOC had replaced its predecessor throughout the fleet and production came to an end in 1938. By 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U Kingfisher and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation SO3C Seamew. However, the SO3C suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The SOC, despite being a craft from an earlier generation, went on to credibly execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions. When operating from ocean vessels, returning SOCs would land on the relatively smooth ocean surface created downstream of the vessel as it made a wide turn, after which the aircraft would be winched back onto deck, as shown in the following video.

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