|The Curtiss SC-1 "Seahawk" was
designed to meet the need for a reconnaissance seaplane that could be
launched from US Navy battleships and cruisers. Designed as a
single-seat aircraft the SC-1 could theoretically hold its'
own against enemy fighters.
The SC-1 was the last of the scout observation types and was the most
highly developed with vastly improved performance over earlier types.
Power, range and armament had doubled its usefulness. It was highly
maneuverable, had two forward firing .50 cal. guns,
large flaps and automatic leading edge slats for improved slow speed
characteristics, and radar carried on the underside of the starboard
wing proved highly successful during search missions. Space needed
for stowage of the aircraft aboard ship was minimized by folding the
wings back manually, making
the overall width equal to the span of the horizontal tail surfaces.
Built in Columbus, Ohio, the SC-1 was initially fitted out with a fixed
wheel undercarriage. It was then was ferried to Naval bases where the
The SC-1 was liked by some pilots and disliked by others, but
generally well accepted. It could out climb an F6F "Hellcat" to 6,000
ft. and out-turn the F8F "Bearcat".
Losses with the "Seahawk" were high, caused mostly by the extremely
hazardous conditions in which they operated. With too hard a water
landing the engine would drop, causing the propeller to cut through the
Several mishaps occurred due to a faulty auto-pilot system. Aircraft
and pilots were lost due to unknown landing accidents. It wasn't until
one pilot "walked away", that it was discovered that the auto-pilot was
taking over on landings. As a result, all automatic pilot systems were
made inoperative on all SC's. (For more information see U.S.S. Little
Rock "Collision at Sea and other Underway Hazards"
During the height of their career, crews aboard ship looked with
pleasure at the "Seahawks" aft on the catapults as their "Quarterdeck
The SC-1 first flew in February 1944 and 950 were
ordered, later decreased to 566 because of the Victory in the
Pacific. It continued in service for a number of years after the
war as trainers, eventually being replaced by helicopters.
(Click drawing for a larger view)
|Paint Scheme: Post Jan
Speed - Cruise:
Speed - Max:
Take off wt:
Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone 9
280 sq. ft.
2 - 50 cal. Machine Guns,
1 - 650 lb. Bomb
|Upper surfaces: Non-specular
Sea Blue (#35042).
Mid surfaces: Non-specular Intermediate Blue (#35164).
Lower surfaces: Non-specular Insignia White (#37875)
glossy Seablue (# 15042),
with white numbers and letters & red bar
in U.S. insignia in four positions.
Curtiss SC-1 Pre-Flight, Launch and Recovery Photos
SC-1 on catapult with wings extended.
(Note tie-down gear.)
Pre-launch briefing ?
SC-1 just prior to leaving catapult
Curtiss SC-1 in flight
Official US Navy Photo
SC-1 taxi-ing in smooth water
Official US Navy Photo
Making a rough water approach alongside USS Alaska
Official US Navy Photo K3725
An SC-1 approaching towed sled
SC-1 on sled alongside USS Alaska (Engine is
Official US Navy Photo K3747
On the sled. Preparing for recovery
SC-1 being hoisted by ship's crane
(USS Wilkes-Barre CL-103)
SC-1 stowed on launcher with wings folded.
SC-1 being launched from an un-named ship.
Photos Of SC1's On the USS Little Rock
(Click on photo to enlarge)
USS Little Rock SC-1
taxis alongside for pick-up
(Photo from Arkansas Traveler)
in SC-1 cockpit
on SC-1 wing.
USS Little Rock CL-92
pilot with crew
SC-1 on Catapult
SC-1's Victor Division (Photo #1)
Unknown, Thorsby, Unknown, Pate, Chief Storms, Chief (?),
Kneeling: Unknown, Walde Lindemann, Unknown, Unknown, Duffy, DuFrane,
Photo #1 courtesy
of Walde Lindemann
|An interesting note:
Photo #1 on the left
was sent to us by ship-
mate Walde Lindemann.
Standing in the rear, at
the far right is Ens. Robert
Friedlein, an SC-1 pilot.
Photo #2 on the right
was sent to us by Thomas
Friedlein, the brother of SC-1
pilot Robert Friedlein.
However Photo #2 doesn't
show ENS Friedlein!
(So, we've emailed a higher
resolution copy of Photo
#1 to Thomas Friedlein.)
SC-1's Victor Division (Photo #2)
Standing: Unknown, Thorsby, Unknown, Pate, Chief Storms, Chief
(?), Unknown, Dolan
Kneeling: Unknown, Walde Lindemann, Unknown, Duffy, DuFrane,
#2 courtesy of Thomas Friedlein
Walde Lindemann with his
scratch-built model of SC-1
SC-1 being retrieved
by ship's crane
SC-1 on catapult while CL-92
is moored pierside in Venice.
Note that plane's port wing
is in stowed position.
SC-1 making approach to
towed sled. Note extended catapult with crew member directing approach
ship's wake used to
SC-1 on port catapult
secured (hopefully) for
Ens. Logan on float of his SC-1
Motor Whale Boat from ship prepares to tow
Ens. Logan is standing
on SC-1 float.
A great photo
of an SC1 launch from USS LITTLE ROCK CL 92. The photo shows the plane
at the moment it leaves the catapult cradle. Note the crew covering
their ears as protection from the noise of the SC1 engine and the
photo of an SC1 launch
from LITTLE ROCK. This photo shows the plane clearing the lifelines a
moment after the it left the catapult.
The USS LITTLE ROCK's Motor Whale Boat
prepares to tow
an inverted SC-1.
This is possibly the plane flown by Ensign Logan as noted in the Walt
Nebiker photos above.
The men who flew Little
Charles "Charlie" R. , LTJG (See photo below)
• Frank, Jules ("Senior Aviator") (See Schultz)
• Friedlein, Robert "Bob", Ens.
(See Walde Lindemann photos
• Hoffman, B. F., LTJG / LT (See "Arkansas
Traveler" 09 Jul 47, 17 Sep 47)
• Logan, Ens. (See Nebiker photos above.)
• Merriman, W. R. , Ens (See Breslin's comments)
report and photos)
• Sandoval, E. E., LT (See "Arkansas Traveler" 17 Sep 47)
• Smith, H. L., Ens. (See "Arkansas Traveler" 09 Jul 47)
• Wheeler, O. E.,
LT (See Christmas Menu 1947)
The above photo, in the 1945-1949 Cruise Book, reads
who died in the line of duty."
After extensive research we have learned that Lt(jg) Fitzpatrick died
in a crash of his SC-1
on New Year's Eve day 1946 off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, New Jersey
(For more info see "Accidents,
Collisions and other Underway Hazards" page
From: Al Yoder,
"I don't remember Lt. Fitzpatrick being killed. I have the names of two
other pilots, Lt. B.F. Hoffman & Lt. E.E. Sandoval. These two
got lost and landed on the calm ocean off Newport. I think I remember
were located somehow and the Destroyers and Little Rock took off at
speed. The impressive thing was that after an hour the Rock passed all
the Destroyers and arrived at the downed aircraft, & recovered
I don't know any other details."
20 Jun 08
From: John Breslin, S1/C 1945-46
".... from my "Air, Aft" lookout post behind the highest aft director,
witnessed and described, (on SP phone), our only complete aircraft loss
during my time aboard. Ensign W. R. Merryman was landing one of
our scout planes south of Cuba, on the smoothed-over water surface our
always created for landings, by making a slowed-down sliding
turn. As Ens. Merryman was taxiing up towards our towed recovery
netted sled, his
plane suddenly nosed over, engine still turning and tail straight up in
the air. The pilot was pitched forward out of his cockpit, into a
clear sea, teeming with hundreds of visible sharks. I reported
sharks immediately on my SP phone, but they were also clearly visible
all parts of our ship. The OD immediately ordered the rescue
whaleboat's crew not to enter the water, but when the swimming pilot
was not able to grasp
the boathook, my buddy and bunk-neighbor, (whose rack was directly
the aisle), immediately dove over his bow and swam to the pilot who was
losing consciousness. Grasping the pilot's life vest
"Sully", or Cox. W. M. Sullivan, swam closer to the whaleboat and then
helped push the limp pilot aboard, as others pulled him in.
did get a Life Saving Medal for risking a plunge into shark-infested
against orders." (Click HERE for more
details and photos.)
S1/C C Div. 1945-46
Regarding the 8/4/45 loss of our plane.... I remember that
incident quite well as I was on duty on bridge and witnessed the
accident. Prior to the accident an object was reported in the water.
(The) crew manned the 40mm to sink object. It was shortly after that
incident, that as we were preparing to retrieve our aircraft, the pilot
approached the ship to land, hit a wave, and capsized. Being on duty on
the bridge I was called as part of rescue crew that manned the whale
boat to retrieve pilot. On that day the weather was fine.
29 Apr 2013
Don Slack, S1/C 1946-47
"As near as I can remember, Lt. Fitzpatrick was lost when he landed
being catapulted off the aft stern practicing take-offs and landings in
13 Jun 08
CDR. MC, USN (Ship's
From a letter dated Oct, 29, 1945: (While in Puerto Rico... )
"I had a
unique experience, and one that will remain with me as long as I
live. Jules Frank - our senior aviator took me up with him in a
two seater plane called an SNJ - an advanced trainer with a 500 hp
motor and retractable landing gear..... during our flight we used
up 65 gallons of 91 octane gasoline at 30 cents per gallon to the Navy
- and all for the asking for me."
The Men Who Maintained our SC-1's
• Lindemann, Walde
• Chief Storms
Your input is vital to this article.
Some thoughts from others about the Curtiss SC1
"LAST OF A BREED"
"Aloha, Charley, Aloha"
by Patricia Groves
November 1974 Issue
Although U.S. Navy observers were present at the Army's first military
trials in september, 1908, until 1910 the official Navy Department
position was that "the development of an aeroplane has not progressed
sufficiently at this time for use in the Navy." (1)
Then, on Nov. 14, 1910, when Gene Ely flew a Curtiss pusher off a
specially constructed deck on the cruiser Birmingham and landed safely
ashore, the secretary of the Navy was finally persuaded to recommend to
Congress the "maintenance of an aerial corps."
Two months later, Ely landed a Curtiss pusher on the deck of the USS
Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay, and stayed aboard for nearly an hour
before returning safely to the San Francisco Peninsula. Then, within a
matter of days, Glenn Curtiss made the first successful flight with an
airplane capable of "taking off and alighting upon the water."
By February 17, the Pennsylvania was anchored off San Diego, and
Curtiss felt sufficiently comfortable with the technique to fly up to
and land alongside the cruiser, and be hoisted aboard. His
"hydro-aeroplane" was then lowered back into the water, and after
restart (in itself a major accomplishment), it was flown back to
Curtiss' winter quarters on North Island.
Even before these early experiments in launching airplanes from ships,
the world's naval authorities were divided into two camps. One held
that it would be better to make a ship self-sufficient by providing
space for the launching and landing of seaplanes on battleships, with
aviators aboard each ship, while the other faction felt it would be
better to have regular "seaplane carriers" which would provide ship
squadrons with an air service.
But this posed a problem. It would be illogical to expect a cruiser in
action to slow down in order to launch or hoist in an airplane. Yet,
having capital ships independent would, on the other hand, keep from
concentrating all air equipment on one ship which could be destroyed by
enemy action, depriving the whole squadron of an air service. On the
horns of a dilemma, the Navy explored its options.
While the aircraft carrier (per se) evolved with a glamour and
tradition peculiar to its circumstances, the air arm of capital ships
of the fleet traveled a somewhat oblique course.
After a soggy false start, Lt. T.G. Ellyson and a Curtiss AH-3 were
launched from a compressed air catapult on Nov. 12, 1912. Although
speedy recovery of an aircraft while under way at sea would pose a
problem until 1933, launching techniques continued to improve through
experience and the technological surge that came with World War I. By
the middle Twenties, the more efficient black powder catapult was
perfected, and installed on various warships during major overhaul.
Early air units were then assigned from various land-based Observation
and Scouting (or VO/VS) squadrons.
Not only was it an insult to the "purity" of ship design, but the
installation of aviation paraphernalia (catapult, crane) necessarily
resulted in dislocation of sailors and their equipment. And naval
aviators were (and still are) referred to as "brown shoes" while real
sailors were in the "black shoe" Navy.
On April 18, 1933, the first successful sea-underway recovery came when
Lt. G. A. Ott landed an O2U alongside the USS Maryland, and taxied up
onto a "sled" (somewhat like a cargo net) being dragged by the
battleship. (2) When a hook on his float was caught in the webbing, Ott
cut power and let the airplane settle back and be carried along with
the ship. A cargo hook was lowered, and the plane hoisted aboard.
During the Thirties, U.S. Navy aircraft, equipment, and launch and
recovery techniques improved and changed as mission requirements slowly
solidified. Due to a shortage of shore-based facilities in the Pacific,
the aircraft carrier developed. There was a brief but disastrous
flirtation with dirigibles (which also carried airplanes aboard).
Land-based equipment was acquired for expanding naval air stations. And
then there were the shipborne seaplanes of the VO/VS squadrons in the
Fleet Battle and Scouting Forces.
When the European powers squared off against one another in the opening
days of World War II, world naval strategy was pretty much a
continuation of the 1914-1918 War. Battleships, although vulnerable to
attack within range of land-based planes, were still considered "the
backbone of the fleet," and superior on the high seas. (3)
But, by mid-1941, it became all too apparent that with or without
battleships, a surface fleet couldn't perform its traditional role
unless it commanded the air above the sea. Some two weeks after the
U-boat sinking of the British battleship, HMS Barham, in the
Mediterranean, Japanese carrier-based aircraft attacked Pearl Harbor,
clobbering much of the American battleship inventory.
By this time, U.S. cruisers and battleships carried from two to four
seaplanes assigned to various Observation and Scouting squadrons.
Already a curious breed, the VO/VS squadrons became more so after
December. After Pearl Harbor. these warships then operated as a unit of
ship and airplane. And aviation duties of the men aboard were in
addition to regular shipboard assignments, making them, in a sense,
neither fish nor fowl. (4)
For most of the war, the VO/VS squadrons performed their "eyes of the
fleet" duties in standard Navy floatplane reconnaissance and scouting
aircraft - the lumbering two-seat Curtiss SOCs and Vought OS2Us. But
since these slower airplanes were vulnerable, the Navy issued a bid
invitation on a single-seat, scouting float plane which would perform
much like a fighter. (5)
In June, 1942, Curtiss-Wright Corp. submitted a proposal for an
airplane with combined armament and performance sufficient to fly
combat against most aircraft, yet still slow enough to shadow the enemy
fleet for long periods of time. Called the Seahawk, its prototype (the
XSC-1) was first flown Feb. 16, 1944, and production was under way by
that summer. (6)
Introduced into squadron service in October, 1944, the SC-1s patrolled
the skies over the Atlantic and Pacific fleets, searching for bogies
above and below, spotting for naval gunfire, and performing air-sea
rescue duties. If troops being convoyed overseas viewed such seaplanes
catapulted off battleships and cruisers as a curiosity, so did the
When war became peace, the VO/VS squadrons rapidly decreased in number.
By April, 1949, the last one was decommissioned, and those SC-1s that
remained (out of 567 produced) were scrapped, moth-balled or assigned
to training units.
But, in the meantime, many SC-1s and aviators had been catapulted into
the wild blue, and scooped up out of the sea. One was Lt(jg) Charles E.
Roth, USN, who, by the time he reported to the USS Providence in 1947,
was fully qualified to wear a black shoe on one foot and a brown one on
the other. (7)
An Annapolis graduate and assistant navigator on the Augusta at war's
end, he signed up for flight training. Pleased that a qualified deck
officer should show so much interest in one of the lesser sciences, the
Navy Department granted his wish. Charley was sent to flying school and
indoctrinated into the whole nine yards.
But tradition dies hard in the Navy. When it became apparent that the
potential admiral showed no inclination to get back into full-time
black shoes, the ingrate was dropped into the first available VO
squadron to ponder the error of his ways.
But with Charley, a tour on the USS Providence (with its SC-1s) was
fine. He liked ships and he liked airplanes. Shoes were just something
to keep the holes in your socks from showing.
In spite of its ungainly appearance, the SC-1 was maneuverable, easy to
fly, and in slow flight - magnifique! Although imbued with a forgiving
nature, it was, nevertheless, an airplane one had to stay with all of
the time. Any fiddling around with your E6B, for instance, resulted in
unusual attitudes for the unwary. (Autopilots had been removed.)
On a water takeoff, all one could see was cowl, because up front a
buxom R-1820-62 engine was turbo-supercharged and ready. You say you
want to go? OK. Give it full right rudder, aim 20° to the right of
the wind, and 1,350 horses will take you in a screaming arc to the
left. Surprising, perhaps, but a joy to power-starved VO/VS pilots
whose only alternative was the lackluster OS2U, so underpowered that in
calm water, it was in danger of being passed by the average swimmer.
On the day an SC-1 pilot makes his first sea-underway recovery, he is
performing before divine Providence - and the crew as well.
The first thing is to find the ship. Preferably, your ship. But,
assuming the navigation has been reasonably accurate and the gentlemen
on board truthfully conveyed their intended course (a nagging doubt
that is not entirely without foundation), then that gray sliver riding
a sea of blue below is your target. By her hull number (82) shall ye
know her. It is indeed the Providence, and how could a 610-foot length
of steel seem so small?
Dropping down and circling at about 300 feet overhead will be
interpreted as either a request to be shot out of the sky or, a request
to come aboard. In the absence of black puffs of smoke, you may assume
that preparations are under way to accept you, and the captain will so
signify by running up the "C" (or "Charley") flag.
Below you, 10,000 tons of ship is traveling at about 15 knots, or
standard speed, and this must be reduced to eight knots before you can
hope to get aboard. So first, the captain will turn the ship 45 degrees
out of the wind to the right. After he's done that, down comes the
Then, just as you're flying alongside him, he'll start a 90° turn
through the wind. What you're going to do now is whack that airplane
around and make a 360 + 90° turn as he's doing his 90. And, as he's
turning, he's translating - skidding, knocking the tops off the waves,
so that if everything works out perfectly, he winds up 45° out of
the wind to the left, and you're landing into the wind across his slick.
When you touch down, you're lined up right about amidships and aimed
right at him. As you skip across the wake, the numbers will get bigger
and bigger and bigger until all you can see is 82 staring you right in
Then, at just the right moment, you will stop, because if you don't you
will go off into the rough and everyone will jeer. So stop, and turn
into the ship, and begin chasing down the sled they're towing.
Now, even though it's about this time that the cooks usually come out
and throw garbage over the side, do you take this personally? No,
indeed, you just keep watching for that sled.
It's about 12-15 feet long and 3 feet wide, canvas-backed with heavy
rope cross straps. Taxi up onto the sled, and cut power - for only the
daring keep their engine running. Then, as the airplane drifts back,
the hook on the bottom of your float will engage one of the ropes. If
not, immediately begin chasing that ship across the wide blue sea.
But, assuming success, pull the release on the top of the cowl, and two
doors will open to reveal the hook-up mechanism. Although you're
bouncing along, stand up in the cockpit - gracefully please - and reach
up for the hook that the bo'sun is aiming right at your head. Grab it
and hook onto the plane.
As the crane reels you in, you may think you've aged 30 or 40 years,
but the whole procedure has taken only about three or four minutes.
Occasionally, especially in a rough sea, you'll bounce out of the sled.
If you think eight knots is slow, look at a ship that's doing eight
knots while you're doing zero, and you know you're 2,000 miles from the
nearest land. Now that's lonesome!
Immediately, you'll have this terrible desire to get that engine going.
And you're faced with a hot engine start. Well, there's a cartridge
starter on the airplane, and you've got some shotgun-like shells with
you. Even though the airplane is bobbing up and down like a cork and
that ship is getting smaller and smaller in the distance, remember,
they're going to keep right on driving that boat. So get out one of
those cartridges and somehow find your knife.
With nerves of steel, carefully remove the wad that's on the front of
the cartridge. Now, peel the cartridge halfway down, and throw out half
of the powder. Put the reduced charge into the breech mechanism for the
starter. See it? It's right there, right straight in front of you. But
There's a safety diaphragm that's built into the breech mechanism, and
it's supposed to contain everything in case over-pressuring occurs when
it's fired. Should that happen, the diaphragm is supposed to keep the
breech from blowing and coming back, and, while not exactly mortally
wounding you - good-bye fun and games.
So, before you fire, a suggestion - wiggle around in the cockpit; get
out of the way as best you can, and pray as you slip in that charge.
Then, if all goes well, as you fire, the engine will start up right
away, and you can begin chasing down the ship that's now a tiny speck
upon the horizon.
1. Henry Woodhouse, Textbook of Naval Aeronautics
(New York City, Century Co., 1917.)
2. NAVAIR 00-80P-1, United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1970
(Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1970.)
3. Peter Padfield, The Battleship Era (New York City, David McKay Co.,
4. Fred C. Dickey, Jr., "The SlingShot Flyers," (Journal of the
American Aviation Historical Society (Vol. 6, No. 2, 1961.) Only adding
fuel to the Devil's Island syndrome associated with the VO/VS
squadrons, was the paperwork set-up of these units. Without any close
attachment to ordinary naval aviation channels, they often experienced
great difficulty getting resupplied. The VO/ VS squadrons (according to
Dickey) became adept at filling their own requisitions. When the
Providence was inventoried in 1947, it was found to contain, among
other oddities, a box of parts for the left flaps of several SNJs.
5. Thetford & Maycock, Aircraft of the Fighting Powers, Vol. VI
(England: Harborough Publishing Co., Ltd., 1945.)
6. Curtiss-Wright Corp., Airplane Division Report No. 20499 (Second
Revision) Nov. 24, 1944.7. Charles E. Roth
If you had a part in the SC-1's life on the USS Little Rock, let either
or Art Tilley
know. We'd like to add your photo(s) or comments to this page.