Curtiss Model H75R

Curtiss Model H75R

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Curtiss Model H75R

The Curtiss Model 75R was the third designation given to a Curtiss-owned Hawk that was used to test external superchargers. This aircraft, with the civil registration NX 22028 and Curtiss c/n 12931, had originally been a company-owned Model 75A demonstrator. It then became the Model 75J when it was equipped with an external mechanical supercharger.

Late in 1938 the aircraft was given a new supercharger. This had the supercharger mounted below the nose, just behind the engine cowling, and the intercooler under the trailing edge of the wing. In January 1939 this aircraft, as the Model H75R, was submitted to the US Army, but lost out to a turbo-supercharged Seversky XP-41, which entered production as the P-43.

The Navy's Curtiss SB2C Helldiver Was Flawed, But It Sank Japanese Warships

U.S. Navy dive-bomber crews flew the unpopular and flawed Curtiss SB2C Helldiver late in World War II.

It sent Japanese warships to the bottom of the ocean. It pulverized fortifications on Japan’s home islands. The Curtiss SB2C Helldiver dive-bomber left a trail of wreckage in its wake, the debris and detritus of a devastated foe. Yet, the Helldiver is remembered today mostly as an unpopular latecomer to the war, a less than stellar performer built by an aircraft company in decline.

A round, blue tube squatting on a tiny tailwheel carrying a pilot and radioman-gunner in tandem behind a 1,900-horsepower Wright R-2600 radial engine, the Helldiver with its 49-foot, 9-inch wing span, was dubbed the “Son of a Bitch Second Class,” the “Beast,” and worse by many a pilot who paid more heed to the rumor mill in the ready room than to the performance gauges on his instrument panel. In fact, the plane was neither as bad as its critics said or as good as its manufacturer hoped.

Design Problems of the Helldiver

The engineer running the Helldiver design team was not plane-maker Curtiss-Wright’s iconic Don R. Berlin, who designed the P-40 Warhawk, but the company’s Raymond C. Blaylock. The Helldiver’s career began with problems. The prototype XSB2C-1 made its maiden flight on December 18, 1940, but the prototype was destroyed just days later. Curtiss rebuilt the aircraft, and it flew again in October 1941 but crashed a second time after a month. After production moved to Columbus, Ohio, from Buffalo, New York, the first production Helldiver flew in June 1942.

From the start, the blue warplane garnered a reputation for poor stability, structural flaws, and poor handling. Britain rejected the Helldiver after receiving 26 examples. Lengthening the fuselage by one foot and redesigning the fin fixed the aerodynamic problems, and the stability and structural issues were exaggerated—yet more than one Helldiver broke in half when making a hard tailhook landing on a wooden carrier deck.

After several variations in armament appeared with early Helldivers, the Navy settled on two forward-firing, 20mm cannons in the wing (introduced on the SB2C-1C model) plus the enlisted crew-member’s swivel-mounted twin .30-caliber machine guns. The radioman-gunner could deploy his firepower only by lowering the rear deck of the fuselage immediately ahead of the vertical stabilizer.

The Helldiver offered an internal bomb bay that could accommodate a 1,000-pound bomb and be closed by hydraulically operated doors. Hardpoints under the wings accommodated additional ordnance.

Perhaps the most important change came with an improved propeller. After a 12-foot Curtiss Electric three-blade prop proved inadequate, a four-blade propeller from the same manufacturer with the same diameter and with root cuffs was introduced with the SB2C-3 model—the point at which nearly all imperfections in the design had been smoothed out. The SB2C-4 followed, introducing “cheese grate” upper and lower wing flaps that were perforated like a sieve they enhanced stability.

A Weak Combat Debut

Helldivers flew their first combat mission when Squadron Bombing 17, or VB-17, joined a strike force assaulting the redoubt at Rabaul, New Britain, on November 11, 1943, as part of a larger strike force.

In Target Rabaul, Bruce Gamble tells of the first American to lose his life on a Helldiver combat mission. “One SB2C bellied in off the carrier’s bow [of USS Bunker Hill]. A plane guard destroyer dashed in, but only the rear gunner was recovered. Lieutenant (j.g.) Ralph L. Gunville drowned because his pockets were stuffed with extra rations for the plane’s life raft in the event of a ditching.”

Chuck Downey read a newspaper account of the Helldiver’s combat debut in the New Jersey beach resort town of Wildwood where, in late 1943 and early 1944, the Navy was forming squadron VB-80, or Bombing 80. Some of the pilots in the new squadron (officially formed February 1, 1944) picked up SB2C-1C Helldivers at the Curtiss-Wright factory in Columbus and delivered them to Wildwood. “We knew this aircraft was meant as a replacement for the SBD Dauntless, which won glory at Midway,” Downey said. “Some of the men thought the Dauntless performed better over all, even though the Helldiver was bigger and more powerful.”

George Walsh, another Helldiver pilot in VB-80, initially questioned replacing a proven warplane with a new one. “Early production models of the Helldiver had a lot of defects,” said Walsh. “It was rushed into production at a new factory in Columbus while engineering specifications were constantly being revised.”

Continued Walsh, “The plane weighed eight tons and was a jungle of wires and hydraulic tubes. The latter operated the flaps, folding wings and landing gear. It proved difficult to land on a carrier because of the long nose. This created so many accidents that Admiral ‘Jocko’ Clark rejected the first Helldivers for his squadron on the [carrier] Yorktown and had the SBDs brought back. The ‘Helldiver’ designation was soon replaced. Pilots began referring to the plane as ‘The Beast’ and that pejorative stayed with the plane even after later models proved to be sturdy and reliable.”

When radioman-gunner Jim Samar learned that he would be occupying the back seat of a Helldiver rather than a Dauntless, his initial reaction was disappointment. “Worse than that. I was crestfallen,” Samar said. He, too, was a plank-owner of VB-80, which left Wildwood to go aboard the carrier USS Ticonderoga, made the Panama Canal transit, and stopped briefly in San Diego, where actress Maureen O’Hara, married to a VB-80 officer’s brother, visited the ship. By early summer 1944, VB-80 and Ticonderoga were rehearsing war off the coast of Hawaii and ready to fight.

“Bombed Shipping in Manila Bay”

Ticonderoga joined the Allied invasion of the Philippines. For Helldiver radioman-gunner Samar, the squadron’s first combat mission on November 5, 1944, proved to be the most dramatic. The target was Japanese-held Clark Field near Manila. It was the only time Samar fired at a Japanese warplane—something gunners did rarely in the final year of the war.

A Nakajima Ki-44 Hayabusa fighter, known to the Allies as an Oscar, ambushed the SB2C carrying pilot Lieutenant (j.g.) James W. Newquist and Samar. “I gave him a burst and he left,” Samar said. “I saw my tracers go into his engine. I saw smoke erupt from his engine.” The Oscar fell from view. No one saw whether it went down. Samar did not receive credit for an aerial victory but believes he shot the Oscar down.

Between November 5, 1944, and January 21, 1945, VB-80 launched 26 missions, 11 of which Samar flew, against Japanese targets on Luzon, Formosa (Taiwan), and French Indochina. Samar still has a logbook with cryptic entries such as “bombed shipping in Manila Bay.”

Pilot Chuck Downey remembers this as the period when the front-seater in the SB2C Helldiver mastered the fine art of dive-bombing. “You pulled the handle to open the bomb bay doors,” Downey said. “You watched the Japanese ship slide under the left center section leading edge of your wing. You slowed to dive-brake deployment speed of 125 knots. You performed a split-S to the left [a half-roll, inverted, going into a descending half loop], using rudder and aileron to put into a vertical dive with a maximum speed of 350 knots.”

All of this, of course, was simply the mechanics for dive-bombing. The purpose was to end up near vertical in position to drop bombs into the stack of a Japanese warship. The maneuvers were significantly more uncomfortable for rearward facing radioman-gunners like Samar and were often undertaken while antiaircraft shells were exploding nearby.

Sinking Kiso

On November 13, 1944, pilots of VB-80 attacked the 5,100-ton Kuma-class light cruiser Kiso in Manila Bay.

Said Walsh, “We launched before dawn and each plane rose to slide into squadron formation by the light of a rose colored rising sun, which became visible over the horizon as we gained altitude. We throttled back to a slow climbing speed to conserve fuel and gain altitude. Flying west toward Manila we had to reach 14,000 feet flying over the snow capped mountains of eastern Luzon. Our flight included 24 SB2Cs, two divisions of 12 each. The divisions included sections of three planes in ‘V’ formation, and I led the last section of three planes. We were loaded with 1,000-pound bombs.”

Kiso was the flagship of the Japanese 5th Fleet, Vice Admiral Kiyohide Shima commanding. Dozens of carrier planes from several squadrons had some role in the attack, but Helldiver pilots Downey, Walsh, and Lieutenant (j.g.) Leslie B. Case were the ones who made direct hits with 1,000-pound bombs.

Said Walsh, “At 300 knots the thirty seconds of the two mile dive passed in what seemed to be slow motion speed as black puffs of exploding antiaircraft shells floated by, punctuated by red tracers from machine guns. The dive brakes hold the speed of the plane from approaching high velocity as it would in a free fall or power dive. The pilot is pressed forward against his shoulder straps because the aircraft is held back as if suspended from a rope. There is time to adjust the aiming point by using the elevators and ailerons as the ship grows bigger and bigger in the windscreen. That day there was no wind factor to be compensated.”

Curtiss Electric Motorcycle Is Born

One way or another, the future will be electric. With the debut of Harley-Davidson’s new LiveWire EV-only brand, more and more motorcycles will take on the trend. For Curtiss Motorcycles, luxury marries electrification in a ride. On that note, the brand just rolled out a trailer that showcases the beginning of its new “golden age” of electric motorcycles.

We know that retro-bikes will never lose their charm, and Curtiss Motorcycles seem to combine the vintage look with modern convenience. Formerly known as Confederate Motors, the Alabama-based brand has a rich history dating back to 1907, when Glenn Curtiss set an unofficial world record of 136 mph (219 kph), on a 40 hp (30 kW) V8-powered motorcycle designed and built by himself in Florida.

Sharing the name with its famous aviation pioneer ancestor, the brand tried to keep its heritage and implement it into their bikes, but with a twist. Along with the production of its all-electric motorcycle Curtiss One, it started a path toward electrification with all its future rides.

Titled “Green, Clean, Mod, Cool: A New Age,” the trailer explains the brands’ philosophical narrative as well as Curtiss One, the company’s not only first precision-centered motorcycle, but also its new platform architecture that will serve as the foundation for all its future motorcycles.

Ergonomics played a key role in the making process of the One. Inspired by an aircraft, its core is connected by a 39mm hard-steel axle. Its only moving parts are the oversized output shaft and its wheels. By keeping the radially organized battery cells submerged in coolant, the Curtiss Power Pak acts as a radiator for the whole system.

The bike has no transmission or gearbox. Instead, the power moves directly from its liquid-cooled Axial Flux motor to the rear wheel through a toothed belt drive. There’s no shifting and no clutch involved. Instead, the speed is determined solely by how hard you twist the throttle. The 425 lbs (193 kg) ride has enough juice to deliver 217 hp and 272 lb-ft torque.

Pricing for the Curtiss One starts at $81,000, which marks a pretty high score on the affordability scale. That said, Curtiss Motorcycles aims to bring out Curtiss Two and Curtiss Three in 2022 and 2023, all based on the architecture of the One (and the cost will probably match too).


Het Model D was een tweedekker uitgerust met een onderstel met driewieler op wielen. De constructie was voornamelijk van sparrenhout, waarbij as werd gebruikt in delen van de motordragers en onderstelbalken, met gedoteerd linnen eroverheen gespannen. De steunbalken waren gemaakt van bamboe. Door patenten verhinderd om de vleugelvervormingstechniek van de Wright Brothers te gebruiken om laterale controle te bieden, en aangezien noch de Wrights, noch hijzelf waarschijnlijk op de hoogte waren van de eerdere patentering in 1868 in Engeland, maakte Curtiss geen gebruik van de Juni Bug's "vleugeltip" rolroerconfiguratie, maar in plaats daarvan gebruikte tussen-de-vleugelpanelen "inter-plane" rolroeren, zoals direct afgeleid van zijn eerdere Curtiss No. 1 en Curtiss No. 2 pushers. Uiteindelijk bleek dit een superieure oplossing te zijn. Zowel de interplane als de achterste rolroeren van deze vroege vliegtuigen gebruikten geen hand- of voetbediend mechanisme om ze te bedienen, maar net als de eerdere Santos-Dumont 14-bis die in november 1906 was aangenomen, moest de piloot 'leunen'. -in "de bocht om de rolroeren te bedienen - op de Curtiss-duwers, een dwarsschommelend metalen raamwerk" schouderwieg ", in lengterichting scharnierend aan weerszijden van de pilotenstoel - aanvankelijk als rechte metalen buizen die tegen de bovenarmen van de piloot rusten en later bereikt met "armleuningen" op een vergelijkbare locatie de verbinding tussen de stuurbekabeling van de piloot en het rolroer tot stand gebracht. Bijna alle Model D's werden gebouwd met een duwerconfiguratie, met de propeller achter de piloot. Vanwege deze configuratie werden ze vaak de "Curtiss Pusher" genoemd. Vroege exemplaren werden gebouwd in een canard-configuratie, met liften op stutten aan de voorkant van het vliegtuig naast een horizontale stabilisator aan de achterkant. Later werden de liften in de staarteenheid ingebouwd en werd de canard-oppervlaktestructuur achterwege gelaten, wat resulteerde in wat de Curtiss "Headless" Pushers werd genoemd.

Naast amateurvliegers werd in april 1911 een Model D gekocht door de Aeronautical Division van het US Army Signal Corps als trainer (S.C. No. 2), en door de marine als observatieplatform in de lucht. Een aantal van hen werd ook geëxporteerd naar buitenlandse legers, waaronder de Russische marine. Op 14 november 1910 vertrok Eugene Ely van de USS Birmingham in een Model D. Dit was de eerste keer dat een vliegtuig van een schip was opgestegen. Op 18 januari 1911 landde Ely een Model D aan boord van de USS Pennsylvania​Dit was het eerste vliegtuig dat op een schip landde.

Bij zijn verkiezing in november 1915 werd congreslid Orrin Dubbs Bleakley de eerste regeringsfunctionaris die van zijn thuisstaat naar Washington DC vloog. De reis werd gemaakt in een 75 pk (56 kW) Curtiss tweedekker uit Philadelphia, bestuurd door sergeant William C.Ocker , destijds met verlof van het United States Aviation Corps. De reis duurde 3 uur en 15 minuten, inclusief een ongeplande stop in een tarweveld in Maryland.

RS Models – 92213 – BFC-2 Goshawk Curtiss

On 16 April 1932, the US Navy ordered two prototypes of a new shipboard fighter under the designations XF11C-1 and XF11C-2, with a 700hp Wright R-1820-78 radial. The R-1820-78 Cyclone and mixed structure of the XF11C-2 found favour with the US Navy, and, on 18 October 1932, a production order was placed for 28 F11C-2s, deliveries of which began in February 1933 and were completed in the following May. The fourth aircraft on the contract was completed with a manually-retractable undercarriage as the XF11C-3, subsequently being redesignated XBF2C-1 with adoption of the “bomber-fighter” category in March 1934. Simultaneously, the F11C-2s were redesignated as BFC-2s. Armament comprised two 7.62mm Browning machine guns and a single bomb of up to 227kg or four 51kg bombs could be carried. The BFC-2 remained in US Navy service until 1938.

Curtiss P-6E

This model represents the Curtiss P-6E “Hawk” which was an American single-engine biplane fighter introduced into service in the late 1920’s with the United States Army Air Corps and operated until the late 1930’s prior to the outbreak of World War II. Beginning in 1922, Curtiss began the design on the Curtiss Hawk line. They were produced in two categories, Pursuits and Advanced Trainers. Curtiss’s plan was to create a demand by virtue of the Hawk’s superiority. After demonstrating the Hawk to the US Army Service, they were impressed enough to buy the prototype and to order two additional aircraft. When initial trials were completed, an order for 25 aircraft was placed. DAYTON, Ohio — Curtiss P-6E Hawk at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The aircraft this model represents was a fast and highly maneuverable aircraft for its time. 46 of the P-6E particular model were delivered during the 1931-1932 time period. The total production for all Hawks’ was 717 aircraft. Crew of one Wingspan 31 feet 6 inches Length 25 feet 2 inches Empty weight 2,669 pounds

The American involvement in WWI brought forth numerous manufacturers who began working to meet the heavy demand of war materials demanded in order to meet the needs of the U. S. Government. The United States was far behind the European nations in terms of aviation development and it was in this field, the founders of the Waco Aircraft Company first became acquainted.

Elwood J. Junkin and Hattie Meyers Weaver Junkin Clayton Brukner

Clayton J. Brukner and longtime friend Elwood J. “Sam” Junkin had both dabbled in the aviation field prior to America’s involvement in the war back in Michigan by building several gliders and even taking flying lessons. Seeking opportunities in aviation, they both moved east and went to work for the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company in Nutley, New Jersey and then to the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company in Buffalo, New York. It was here that they became acquainted with several men who would play a prominent role in the formation of the Waco Aircraft Company. While working for Curtiss, Clayt and Sam became acquainted with Harold C. Deuther, Charles W. Meyers, and George E. “Buck” Weaver.

Buck Weaver, test pilot and co-owner and namesake of Weaver Aircraft Company (WACO).

During their off hours, Brukner, Junkin and Deuther began working on a single-seat flying boat powered by a 15 h.p. Hendee engine at the Haley Building at Curtiss. WWI ended in 1918, but the trio decided to remain in Buffalo to finish the flying boat. Charlie Meyers and Buck Weaver decided to seek fortune elsewhere and moved to Lorain, Ohio to form the Ohio Aviation School at Woodruff Field where they invited the trio to join them. Finishing the flying boat in 1919, they began testing but found it was unable to “unstick” itself from the water due to the inadequate power of the engine. Undaunted, Brukner, Junkin and Deuther loaded up the flying boat in a truck driven by fellow co-worked Ed E. Green and moved to Lorain, Ohio to continue testing. Arriving in Lorain on August 10, 1919, they rented a space upstairs in Carek’s Dance Hall and began designing two new aircraft. It was at that time they decided to form the DBJ Aeroplane Company.

The first design was a small single-place biplane known as the DBJ “Scout” powered by the 15 h.p. Hendee that had powered the unsuccessful Baby Flying Boat, as the first model had become known. The “Scout” was completed and was successfully flown but was damaged in an accident while being hopped by Brukner and not rebuilt. The second design was a larger, two-place flying boat powered by a water-cooled inline engine of 40 h.p. This airplane was also completed in short order but it too was not successful in becoming airborne. A third design was begun but soon abandoned due to lack of funds and the group joined Meyers and Weaver in their barnstorming adventure in order to raise the necessary money to keep building airplanes.

In November of 1919, it was decided to merge the assets of the informal DBJ Aeroplane Company into the Weaver Aircraft Company. They commenced work on a totally new design at Carek’s Dance Hall that would become known as the “Cootie”. The “Cootie” was a high-wing parasol-type aircraft powered by a two-cylinder Lawrance A-3 engine of 28 h.p. at 1400rpm. By February 1920, the “Cootie” was completed and was ready for testing. With Buck Weaver at the controls, the airplane was quickly airborne. Buck flew the airplane around locally for about 20 minutes. Returning to the field, a ground fog had begun to arise. As Buck came in to land, one of the wheels settled into a frozen rut and Buck lost control and crashed. The airplane was badly damaged and Buck was badly injured as well when his face smashed into the instrument panel. While Buck was recovering, work began on a second “Cootie” during April 1920 and this time it was redesigned as a biplane. The airplane flew well but they were unsuccessful in finding a buyer.

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I am investing in Curtiss Motorcycle Co. because of their highly reputed motorcycle designs, superior execution, lean operations, and a positioning within the EV marketplace that was brilliantly foresighted and is perfectly timed. Curtiss has rethought and redesigned the motorcycle top-to-bottom around battery electric, and is on task to elevate the entire motorcycling experience and culture to a standard of luxury never seen. Up to this point there has been no actual leader.
Enter Curtiss, master of luxury and inventiveness, and Mr. Matt Chambers, Founder and CEO, master of this market space, and visionary. I know firsthand what Mr. Chambers and his team at Curtiss are capable of, as do motorcycle critics and enthusiasts worldwide. I know their level of commitment, the quality of their work, their motorcycles, and the years of development and detail that has so painstakingly been woven into the fabric of the Curtiss One motorcycle. I have seen the Curtiss One up close, ridden it, and it is a stroke of collaborative genius. It retains the appeal and functionality of a conventional motorcycle, but loses the noise and relentless demand for owner maintenance and rider attention. It is quiet and easy to operate, so your God given senses are clear and undiluted, and your overall sense of freedom, exhilaration, and spiritual solitude are at their peak. Bonus, it is environmentally green!Curtiss One, the bike, makes total sense to me as a rider. Curtiss Motorcycles, the company, makes total sense to me as an investor. The potential upside to this market is massive, and Curtiss intends to prove it, exploit it, and own it.

James Hoegh
Motorcycle Land Speed Record Holder, Bonneville Salt Flats, 2012 to present.
Curtiss Board Member

Curtiss Model H75R - History

(Used from 1942 until the Spring of 1944)

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk was an American single-engine, single-seat, all metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft that first flew in 1938. It was based on the earlier Curtiss P-36 Hawk, having the P-36’s air-cooled radial engine replaced with a liquid-cooled inline engine. Whereas most P-40s had the Allison V-1710 V-12 engine, the P-40Fs and P-40Ls flown by the 79th Fighter Group had Packard-build Merlin engines that provided additional horsepower and a slightly higher service ceiling.

The P-40 was the third most produced American fighter, with 13,738 being built, and was used by most Allied nations and remained in front-line service until the end of the war.

Republic P-47 Thunderbolt

(Used from Spring of 1944 until disbanded in 1947)

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was an American single-engine, single-seat, all metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft, powered by the Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engine. The P-47 had better performance than the P-40 in most areas, with the exception of maneuverability and range. With its robust airframe, powerful radial engine, and armament of eight .50 caliber machine guns, the P-47 was especially proficient in the ground-attack role.

The P-47 was the most produced American fighter of World War II, with 15,636 being built.

​ real look, really fly

The Curtiss P-40 Warhawk is an American single-engined, single-seat, all-metal fighter and ground-attack aircraft. The P-40 design was a modification of the previous Curtiss P-36 Hawk which reduced development time and enabled a rapid entry into production and operational service. The Warhawk was used by most Allied powers during World War II and remained in frontline service until the end of the war. It was the third most-produced American fighter, after the P-51 and P-47 by November 1944, when production of the P-40 ceased, 13,738 had been built, all at Curtiss-Wright Corporation's main production facilities at Buffalo, New York.

P-40 Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps and after June 1941, USAAF-adopted name for all models, making it the official name in the U.S. for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the P-40B and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants.

P-40s first saw combat with the British Commonwealth squadrons of the Desert Air Force in the Middle East and North African campaigns, during June 1941. No. 112 Squadron Royal Air Force, was among the first to operate Tomahawks in North Africa and the unit was the first Allied military aviation unit to feature the "shark mouth" logo, copying similar markings on some Luftwaffe Messerschmitt Bf 110 twin-engine fighters.

The P-40's lack of a two-speed supercharger made it inferior to Luftwaffe fighters such as the Messerschmitt Bf 109 or the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 in high-altitude combat and it was rarely used in operations in Northwest Europe. However, between 1941 and 1944, the P-40 played a critical role with Allied air forces in three major theaters: North Africa, the Southwest Pacific, and China. It also had a significant role in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, Alaska, and Italy. The P-40's performance at high altitudes was not as important in those theaters, where it served as an air superiority fighter, bomber escort, and fighter-bomber. Although it gained a postwar reputation as a mediocre design, suitable only for close air support, recent research including scrutiny of the records of individual Allied squadrons indicates that this was not the case: the P-40 performed surprisingly well as an air superiority fighter, at times suffering severe losses but also taking a very heavy toll of enemy aircraft. The P-40 offered the additional advantage of low cost, which kept it in production as a ground-attack aircraft long after it was obsolete as a fighter.

A History Of Renwal Aeroskin Kits

Renwal had established an extensive line of kits by 1966. They had come out with a unique line of modern armor and military equipment, visible anatomical models, visible V-8s and chassis, nuclear submarines with detailed (if a bit fanciful) interiors and an older line of naval warships. They had introduced a large line of “Collectors Showcase” 1/48th scale cars, started a series of seven modern iterations of classic car designs (Renwal Revivals) plus a super-detailed 1/12 scale Mercedes Benz Gullwing and Ferrari.

Selected Renwal Kits (click any to enlarge)

Notable by their absence up to then were kits of aircraft. This changed in January of 1966 when Renwal issued their first series of model planes kits.

Proudly announced via large two-page ads in model magazines, Renwal called the series “Renwal’s Fabulous Flying Machine Assembly Kits,” a verbose title reminiscent of the previous year’s major motion picture: “Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines.” Inpact of England was the model company associated with the film, but Renwal appeared to be catching a ride on a wave of interest in pre-World War One machinery.

Possibly inspired by the French Brifaut models, the Renwal kits each provided open frameworks of two pioneer aircraft molded in black, to be covered with “silk-span” tissue exactly like that found in flying model kits.

Here are a couple of comparisons between the earlier Brifaut Bleriot and Antoinette kits. The Brifaut is in dark brown to the left, Renwal in black to the right. You’ll note the parts are decidedly similar, but not the same- the Brifaut Antoinette is noticeably larger than the Renwal version, and the parts are arranged on the trees differently. It does look like Renwal may have used the Brifaut kits as inspirations for their own.

Brifaut & Renwal Bleriot and Antoinette Trees (click to enlarge)

I’ve never been able to figure out the large gap in the kit numbers, but, boy, these kits definitely retailed for $1.00—unless you could grab one for 73¢!

I have to admit a personal fondness for the packaging of this series. I really like the look of the boxes with the dramatic sky colors and the fine paintings of the planes. A model box needn’t always have explosions to be appealing. I have not been able to determine who the artist was.

The choice of craft was interesting, too, like the Voisin Farman and the tri-planiest triplane ever issued. These 2-in-1 boxes, being printed wraps (or ‘slicks’) over cardboard, have stood up well over the years, far better than the WWI Aero-Skin kits that followed. They’re still fairly common in the collecting world. Boxes were sealed in cellophane from the factory.

Within a year of their release, Renwal made a change to the information on the box top, highlighting the Aero-Skin process which they had gone to the trouble of trademarking. Both packaging variations can be seen in the first picture. The Aero-Skin name change probably coincided with the release of the WWI planes later in the year. The non-Aero-Skin packages appear to be a little rarer.

Change in Pre-War Box Design

Renwal Curtiss & Avro Contents

Above are the contents of the Curtiss Pusher and Avro Triplane box. Note the liquid cement included with every kit (now frequently missing) I will say that every intact bottle I’ve seen still has cement in it, unlike the corked bottles of cement often found in foreign-made kits of the same vintage. The tissue for covering the models is visible under the parts in the bottom of the box. This particular kit has two inspection slips, but only one bag for the Avro Triplane. The two inspection slips may not be an error I’ve come across the same situation in other Renwal kits. Using a single bag to separate the parts of the two kits also appears to have been standard procedure. Renwal’s instructions are detailed but easy to follow.

Now for the fly in the ointment. If I may quote my book “WWI in Plastic,” they do not have the fragile translucent look of the real planes, but “the overly thick structures necessary in 1/72 scale, coupled with the poor choice of plastic color, made the finished models look like they were constructed out of two-by-fours dipped in creosote”. Somewhat harsh, but I think accurate. Perhaps if Renwal had just chosen a pale tan for the plastic color and supplied pale colored tissue for the covering the results would have been far more appealing. That being said, I really enjoyed building these kits when I was a kid and I don’t think it’s the liquid cement fumes talking! It was a novel experience, and glue-soaked fingers left no marring on the finished model. Here are shots of the parts for all six kits. The parts themselves are crisply molded, and have very little flash. I only wish they had made the trailing edges thinner.

Antoinette & Voisin Farman, Curtiss & AvroTriplane and Wright & Blerioit Parts

One other thing. In 1979 I received a letter from fellow kit collector Bill Slayton who sent the following list and numbers of what he described as individually packaged pre-war Aero-Skin kits:

Now, in all the years since, this is the only reference I have ever come across to there being any packaging for these kits other than the 2-in-1 sets above. The numbering doesn’t conflict with any Renwal kits I know of, but I’ve never seen any other list like it. I don’t recall if Bill said he had some, or if he was looking at some printed catalog or price sheet. Anyway, it’s been over 30 years. I’m going to say this is probably a mistake, but will happily change my mind if something official ever turns up.

Renwal was very enthusiastic about the possibilities of their “Aero-Skin” process. Less than a year after releasing the Pre-War kits, they came out with a full 12 kits of WWI aircraft, designed specifically to take advantage of the Aero-Skin process. What set these apart from the previous series was the full color printing on the enclosed tissue.

Renwal WWI Aero-Skin Box Covers

On a personal note, the father of my best friend at the time had the whole set stored like this in a closet in his son’s room I think it was the first time I’d ever seen a complete set of kits outside of a hobby shop, and it made a profound impression on me.

The packaging of these kits is remarkable. Since they were so different, Renwal felt it necessary to clearly explain what Aero-Skin was, and why you might want to try it. Each box is kind of like a bullet-point presentation explaining and visually illustrating the whole concept. Seen here, Rickenbacker’s Spad XIII.

Each box showed what the included Aero-Skin looked like, along with a short description of how you used it. The cover art included a painting of the plane in question, as well as a portrait of the pilot who flew it. Renwal was never afraid of being educational. Seen below, David Putnam’s Spad XIII.

The one-piece boxes with opening long side panels, made of thin printed cardboard, were unusual in that they had one side panel at a 45 degree angle.

This side panel displayed a coupon to be saved if six were sent in, you got this 14 x 11 poster of the portraits of the Aces, printed on “heavy vellum.” This example is the only one I’ve ever come across.

The aircraft art was done by two illustrators. The following boxes were done by Gene Thomas, an artist who also did book covers: both Nieuports, Putnam’s Spad, Collishaw’s Sopwith Triplane, Gabriel’s Fokker DVII, and Lenz’s Pfalz DIII. Mort Künstler, now a very successful and well-known artist who specializes in painstakingly accurate paintings and portraits of American Civil War subjects, did Rickenbacker’s Spad, Spring’s SE5, McKeever’s Bristol F2b, Richthofen’s Fokker DrI, Roy Brown’s Camel and Hanstein’s Albatros DVa.

I don’t know which artist did the coupon portraits, or whether it was a third artist.

The kits first came out in late 1966, the same year as the film “The Blue Max”. I personally remember this because we went to see the movie, and when I got home I dove in and built Willy Gabriel’s Fokker DVII which I had received in a school Christmas gift exchange.

The kits initially sold for 69¢, going up a year later to 79¢ as shown by these taped on stickers. Probably in 1968 or 69 they had that price printed on properly. They were available from 1966 through 1969.

WWI Aero-Skin Price Variations

In 1969, Renwal broke the set of 12 into 2 sets of 6 and sold them as “Six Famous Fighter Planes of W.W.1.” The assortment of planes was not random it was printed on the cardboard frame that enclosed and displayed the kits.

This is set 2661:474, a set I’ve seen three times. The second set, 2663:474, is one I’ve never seen, so I’m not certain if the cardboard sleeve is the same, or if it might even have a different name. The somewhat odd price number of �” is derived by multiplying 79¢ x 6 usually when a company sells a set, they knock the effective individual price down I would have thought a price of $4.00 would have been a better choice. Maybe that’s why these 6-in-1s are so rare.

Though there were 12 kits in this WWI series, there were only 10 molds: The Spad XIII and Nieuport 17 both had two versions. Now, releasing 10 new kits all at once is a fairly impressive feat, and I think Renwal was able to accomplish this due to the unusual nature of the Aero-Skin kits.

Unlike the first Pre-War series, these WWI kits had solid wings and fuselages, but had deep recessed panels between the ribs, so that the paper fabric would “sag.”

Details like wing radiators, engine louvers and other tiny surface detail was not molded on it was printed onto the fabric, along with an artistic representation of “shine.” This probably made it much easier to mold fuselages and such since they were mostly just smooth polished surfaces.

Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it appears that Renwal decided to use existing kits as “three dimensional drawings” to save them the bother of fully developing original molds. And since these kits had to have the deep depressions between the ribs, no one could accuse them of simply copying other tooling. When one examines what was available at the time, it seems pretty clear that Renwal based the plastic parts on kits from other companies.

I wanted to do a part-for-part analyses of each of the kits. Frankly, I’ve only just started. Some of my Renwal kits are sealed and so I’m reluctant to open them, but here is one example.

Here’s Rickenbacker’s Spad. Like all of the Aero-Skin WWI kits, it is molded in a hard white plastic, snuggly framed. A jar of Testors Liquid Cement, frequently missing, is taped to one of the box flaps. The nicely printed sheet of fabric displays the markings, as well as the missing detail (see the circular radiator on the fabric?) A clear plastic stand is provided with a pylon, scored to allow you to snap it at your chosen altitude to create a multi-level in-flight display.

If you compare the olive drab Revell Spad parts with the white Renwal parts, you can see the unmistakable similarities.

Renwal vs. Revell Spad (click to enlarge)

Note the fuselage panel with the guns molded on, a kind of unusual feature of the Revell Spad, and copied by Renwal.

Also, the Revell Spad had the less common early rounded wingtips which Renwal also mimicked had Renwal created their own mold from drawings, they may have opted for the more typical squarish wingtips.

Also you can clearly see the unnatural look of the uncovered wings with their deep panels.

Renwal and Revell Spad Wings

The Renwal Fokker DrI was based on the Airfix Fokker DrI.

Here we see the author’s 1967 vintage built-up Aero-Skin Fokker Triplane flanked on the left by his Airfix Triplane, and Revell Triplane on the right. It’s easy to see that the Renwal and Airfix Tripes are almost the same size, and sit very similarly. Also, the Revell kit had only just come out yet when Renwal issued theirs.

Even without doing a part-for-part comparison, I think we can safely assume that Renwal based their kits on the following other companies’ kits:

Spad XIII, SE5a, Nieuport 17, Sopwith Camel and Fokker DVII: Revell

Bristol F2b, Fokker DrI and Albatros DV: Airfix

Sopwith Triplane: Possibly Aurora, probably not Revell (theirs came out in late 1966 at about the same time as the Aero-Skin kits).

The surprising Pfalz DIII has always been the most desirable of all of the Renwal kits. It was the only injection molded 1/72 scale kit of this important plane until VeeDay made their limited production version in late 1980. A mainstream Pfalz DIII in this scale didn’t appear until Roden’s 2002 release!

Unfortunately, for all of their cleverness and great packaging, the resulting models just didn’t look as good as standard painted models. The printed details and painted “shine” on the aluminum-doped planes looked artificial. The wings were way over scale thickness. Also, one was limited to the markings they provided. And one was denied the pleasure of putting on decals.

But if part of the joy of a model is the sheer pleasure of assembling them, I will always say that the Renwal kits were a success I remember having a lot of fun just putting them together. I may have to try again one of these days and see whether “grown-up” skill would make a noticeable difference. I know of at least one modeler who used the skin of a Renwal kit on a corresponding Revell kit with pretty nice results.

In late 1967 Renwal issued their final Aero-Skin kits. Using the same techniques as the 1/72 kits, these were molded in 1/48 scale, and probably were the kits most likely to produce successful results.

Renwal 1-48 Aero-Skin Boxes

The packaging is noticeably different. These one-piece end-opening boxes have a window showing the actual Aero-Skin included in the kit.

So, rather than have an illustration of the enclosed fabric as in the previous 1/72 scale series, the bottoms of these boxes all used the same generic illustration, showing, oddly enough, a 1/72 Spad being assembled. That suggests that the packaging was being developed before the kits were ready, which is not unusual by any means. For example, when Aurora did their 700 series photo boxes, the models they photographed were of their previous 100 Series incarnations.

Now, having a big hole in a box made of thin cardboard is a bit of a problem. Opened examples of these kits are almost always a little mangled and frequently missing bits and pieces, especially since the parts were not inside a bag. (If you have one of these, I’d highly recommend sealing everything in a zip-loc bag.) And if the kits are still wrapped in their original cellophane, they can slowly squish over time it’s not called “shrink wrap” for nothing.

Renwal went a little beyond WWI by including a Curtiss F11c Goshawk also the Curtiss Jenny sports a post-WWI advertising paint scheme. The Jenny’s box is 13.75 inches long the other boxes measure 12.5 x 6.5 x 1.5 inches.

Long Box Sides with History

Once again, Renwal didn’t shy away from being educational and included fairly detailed and intriguing histories of the kit subject.

Renwal 1-48 Fokker EIII Contents

Inside the boxes, the jar of liquid cement was stuffed inside a roll of cardboard padded with tissue the Aero-Skin was wrapped around this piece of cardboard. The sprues are not as tidy as in the previous series, and parts are often knocked loose. Many a tail has gone sliding out into oblivion through a gap in the box flap.

1-48 Fokker EIII Wing Ribs

As you can see, the printing extends beyond the pieces to allow for the edges to wrap around. Also, I suspect this jar of cement was used it looks tainted, almost like gold paint!

Again, it appears Renwal used other companies’ kits as ready-researched examples to simplify creation of their own kits. Interestingly, Renwal did not use the 1/48 Merit DH2 as a “model” for their own 1/48 DH2, as illustrated by the distinctly different shape of the fuselage, wings and other bits and pieces. Perhaps they didn’t have access to the Merit kit it’s probably just as well, since it is not terribly accurate.

Instead, it looks like they were more inspired by the parts design of the recently issued Revell 1/72 DH2 note the lower fuselage extending from the leading edge of the lower wing on both kits.

Renwal vs. Revell DH2 (click to enlarge)

Also, note in particular Renwal’s spot-on re-creation and enlargement of Revell’s pilot figure.

Again, I’m not suggesting that all that Renwal did was to copy other kits without including their own refinements. They were smart enough to not use the Aurora Eindecker, (the K&B reissue appears below) which was noticeably over-sized at 1/40th scale, nor did they slavishly copy Revell’s Eindecker with its unusual 3-sided fuselage. They were certainly capable of creating their own tooling from scratch. I think they just took advantage of what was available from other companies to speed up the process of kit creation. By the way, this is a good shot of what a covered Aero-Skin wing looks like.

Some time after the release of these kits, prints of these 3 of the original 5 box art covers were available from an outfit called Shepard Press. They are printed on heavy stock, much like the Renwal Fighter Aces of World War One print, but I don’t know if it’s “vellum.” The prints measure 14.5 x 11 inches.

Renwal Aero-Skin Paintings

I don’t know the artists of the 1/48th artwork, but it would be a fair guess that it was Mort Künstler and Gene Thomas again. I haven’t been able to come up with a link between The Homestead, Shepard Press and Renwal. Perhaps these three prints are from artwork retained by one of the artists who released them on his own? This is pure speculation on my part.

Renwal finally ceased production of all Aero-Skin kits after 1969. They had certainly given it a good shot, but the non-reappearance of this process, at least from them, seems to indicate that it was basically a novelty to the modeling public. Or maybe they just felt it was time to move on to something different. I don’t have dates or anything official, but it appears Renwal changed hands about this time, and their future kit production and packaging suggests a re-direction of the company.

The somewhat lurid title of this installment belies the sad ultimate fate of the Renwal Aero-Skin series.

According to my few Renwal catalogs, what had for decades been Renwal Products Inc. of Mineola , New York by at least 1972 had become Renwal Products Company, A Division of The Learning Aids Group, Inc, PO Box 428 , Burlington New Jersey . Kits of this era are in white photo boxes, and the logo was a red, white and black boxy 8-pointed cross.

By 1974, the company name had become Renwal Products Co. Inc., A Chein Industries Company (see top box).

Renwal Reissue and Original Nieuport 17

Chein was an old American toy company that had started way back in 1903, and specialized in tin toys. They bought the Learning Aids Group who owned Renwal, and apparently by 1974 put their name in the foreground. In 1975 they announced the forthcoming re-appearance of 6 of the Aero-Skin kits, only this time without Aero-Skin. At the time, the hope among modelers was that the kits were going to be re-done as more standard style kits and that among the unspecified 6 kits would be the sought-after Pfalz D-III.

Upon release of the kits in late 1975, it became obvious that Renwal was not the company it had once been. The kits were unchanged except for the tan colored plastic. No Aero-Skin was included or even mentioned. Anyone attempting to build a model without tissue to cover the wings would have ended up with a peculiar looking plane, indeed. The trees were packed in a paper sleeve decals, not terribly good ones, were included.

Renwal non-Aero-Skin Paper Envelope

I’ve never been able to figure out if the company was cynical and figured no-one would notice the utter unsuitability of the parts, or if they were just ignorant. The fact that their own company name is misspelled as “Renwall” on the reverse of the decal sheet might be a clue.

Non-Aero-Skin Brisfit Contents

Below is a comparison of the original boxes with their 1975 replacements.

Renwal Reissues vs Original Aero-Skins

The original box art was retained, albeit modified sometimes even reversed.

Reversed Box Art on the Fokker DVII

The choice of six kits, incidentally, matched those in the 6-in-1 set 2661. That meant the Pfalz did not reappear. John Tarvin of Airframe Vacforms had announced the forthcoming release of smooth wings for the hoped-for Pfalz—needless to say, he cancelled his plans when it did not appear. With the exception of the Bristol F2b which was not available from Airfix in the US at the time, every Renwal subject was matched by a superior Revell or Eldon product.

Roundly (and justifiably) panned in the model press, these may have been a final nail in the Renwal coffin. The company expired in 1976. Renwal’s tooling went to Revell, who thankfully seem to have retained most of Renwal’s best work, like their visible kits, missiles, the nuclear subs and most if not all of Renwal’s military kits. I’d be amazed if the Aero-Skin tooling survives.

In summation, Renwal was a niche company that created some pretty unique lines of kits outside the norm produced by the larger manufacturers. Many of their have survived and actually stood up quite well. The Aero-Skins may not be remembered by modern modelers as anything more than a failed experiment, especially if your only criterion is the overall accuracy of the kit. But I will restate that for myself, the joy of building was as much a part of the equation as the finished product.

Finally, just for fun, a purely speculative picture of the other 6-in-1 set, 2663, albeit in the 2661 sleeve—like I said, the real one may look entirely different—this is only a fantasy.

Renwal 6-in-1 Fantasy Depiction of the Second Gift Set

Brad Hansen has been a model builder since the age of 5 when he built a Bachmann Robin kit while sailing with his family on board a transport ship from California to Hawaii in 1960.