U.S.S. Little Rock CL 92
and the


31 August, 2021

SC-1 Painting

The Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk was a vital piece of U.S.S. Little Rock CL 92 Armament.
Below are a few facts about this amazing "weapon" and the people who flew and cared for it.

The Aircraft
The Curtiss SC-1 "Seahawk" built by Curtiss-Wright Corporation was designed to meet the need for a reconnaissance seaplane that could be launched from U.S. Navy battleships and cruisers.  Designed as a single-seat aircraft the SC-1 could theoretically hold its' own against enemy fighters.

Intended as a replacement for the Vought SO2U Kingfisher and the Curtiss SOC3 "Seamew", the SC-1's development commenced in 1942. A contract was awarded for two XSC-1 prototypes and five SC-1's for service evaluation.  The first prototype flew on February 16, 1944.  All seven machines had flown by April 28, 1944.  Orders were placed for 950 aircraft, but later decreased to 566 aircraft because of the Victory in the Pacific. (Some data indicates that 112 Seahawks were delivered in 1944, and another 444 in 1945, for a total of 568 aircraft.)

Built in at the Curtiss-Wright plant 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 floats were attached.

The first operational units were assigned to the USS Guam CB-2 in October 1944.  The first reported action involving an SC-1 was in Borneo, in June of 1945.

 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".

During the height of the airplane's career, crews aboard ship looked with pleasure at the "Seahawks" aft on the catapults as their "Quarterdeck Messerschmitts".

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 float. 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" page.)

It continued in service for a number of years after the war as trainers, eventually being replaced by helicopters.

The SC-1 was the last of the scout observation types and was also the last single-engine float plane built by Curtiss-Wright Corporation. It was also the most highly developed float plane 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.

Curtiss SC-1 Profile Drawing

(Click drawing for a larger view)

Paint Scheme: Post Jan 1943
Speed - Cruise:
Speed - Max:

Time to 20,000 ft:

Horse Power:
Wing area:
Wing load:
Weight empty:
Take off weight:
Weight with Armament:

130 mph
315 mph at 28,600 ft.
238 mph at sea level
625 miles (at 125 mph)
8.3 minutes
37,300 ft.

Wright R-1820-62 Cyclone 9
air-cooled radial design
1350 hp
36' 5"
280 sq. ft.
32.19 lbs/ft2
6320 lbs.
7900 lbs.
9000 lbs..
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)

Paint Scheme:
Overall glossy Seablue (# 15042),
with white numbers and letters & red bar
in U.S. insignia in four positions.

Serial Numbers (*)
                  XSC-1: 35298-35300
SC-1: 35301-35797;  93302-93367
SC-2: 119529-119538
(*) Exact numbers of each model are not available with existing
data.  However, it would seem that the following totals are good
approximations for each aircraft type built:

   XSC-1: 3,   SC-1: 563,  SC-2: 10

Note: The SC-2 was a 2-seat airplane.

Curtiss SC-1 Pre-Flight, Launch and Recovery Photos

SC-1 On Catapult

SC-1 on catapult with wings extended.
(Note tie-down gear.)

SC-1 Prior to Launch

Pre-launch briefing ?

SC1 Pre-Launch

Pre-launch preparations

SC-1 Being Launched

SC-1 just prior to leaving catapult

SC-1 In Flight

Curtiss SC-1 in flight

SC1 Landing

SC-1 landing
Official US Navy Photo

SC-1 Taxi-ing

SC-1 taxi-ing in smooth water
Official US Navy Photo
SC-1 Rough Water Approach

Making a rough water approach alongside USS Alaska
Official US Navy Photo K3725

SC-1 Approaching Sled

An SC-1 approaching towed sled
SC-1 on sled

SC-1 on sled alongside USS Alaska (Engine is stopped.)
Official US Navy Photo K3747

On Sled

On the sled. Preparing for recovery

Recovery of SC-1

SC-1 being hoisted by ship's crane
(USS Wilkes-Barre CL-103)

SC-1 Stowed Wings Folded

SC-1 stowed on launcher with wings folded.

SC1 ship launch

SC-1 being launched from an un-named ship.

Photos Of  SC1's On the USS Little Rock

(Click on photo to enlarge)

CL 92 SC1 Taxiing

A USS Little Rock SC-1 taxis alongside for pick-up
(Photo from ship's paper "The Arkansas Traveler")

Walde Lindemann Photos
(Read Walde Lindemann's story below.)

Linde In Cockpit

Walde Lindemann
in SC-1 cockpit

Linde on Wing

Walde Lindemann
on SC-1 wing.

Pilot with Crew

USS Little Rock CL 92
pilot with crew

SC1 on Catapult

Walde Lindemann
on catapult

SC1 on Catapult

SC-1 on Catapult

Victor Division

SC-1's Victor Division (Photo #1)

Standing: Unknown, Thorsby, Unknown,
Pate,  Chief Storms, Chief (?),
John Dolan,  Ens. Robert Friedlein (*)

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.)

(*) Note:
Ens. Robert Friedlein unfortunately was killed in an accident while flying off the USS Missouri on 01 Oct 1948. His obituary can be seen on this website's "Honor Roll".

Victor Division Picture #2

SC-1's Victor Division (Photo #2)

Standing: Unknown, Thorsby, Unknown,
Pate,  Chief Storms, Chief (?),
John Dolan

Kneeling: Unknown, Walde Lindemann,
Unknown, Duffy, DuFrane, Overstreet

Photo #2 courtesy of Thomas Friedlein
the brother of Robert Friedlein (*).

Linde with SC1 Model

Walde Lindemann ADAN with his
scratch-built model of an SC-1


My interest in aviation all started at a young age when I heard my uncle Capt. Ernie Pretsch was a pilot and had a flight training and crop dusting business at Roosevelt Field in the 1930s. During the beginning of WWII I carved and finished fighter planes out of solid balsa wood from kits. I later built rubber band and larger flying models powered by miniature gas engines.

On February 26,1946 at the age of 17, joined the US Navy. After boot camp I was sent to the Philadelphia Navy yard to serve aboard a light cruiser, the USS Little Rock, CL 92. Little did I know the ship had two Curtiss SC-1 Seahawks aboard and sitting on catapults. The aviation unit was a separate division on the ship. After a short time I requested to be transferred to the aviation unit but had to wait for an opening. Finally it came through and I became an " Airdale", and in my glory .

Working and studying hard, within a year I became an Aviation Mechanist Mate Striker and plane captain. I now had my own Seahawk to care for. As plane captain I was responsible for preparing the aircraft for flight. I fIrst had to turn the four bladed propeller to distribute the oil in the engine. I then sat in the cockpit with my check list and checked that all the moveable surfaces, flaps, elevator, ailerons, and rudder were working. I then put a shotgun cartridge in to the breech. Switch on, throttle in the right position and you hope the engine fIres off. The engine is warmed up, all gauges and the magnetos are checked and the throttle run to full RPM for a few seconds. If all is OK the pilot climbs into the cockpit, does a brief check, and gives a thumb up ready for takeoff. The ship then heads into the wind with the catapult at a 15 degree angle over the water. With full power on the pilot gets word from the signal man and on the upward roll of the ship the plane is released. A 5" power cartridge would fIre near the end of the catapult and the aircraft would be launched out over the water.

After its mission the aircraft would head back and prepare to land. Again the ship would turn into the wind cutting the waves to form a smooth surface for the aircraft to land behind the ship. A netted sled is lowered from the ship and is caught by a hook under the front main float of the aircraft. A crane on the ship lowers a hook that is attached onto the aircraft by the pilot. The aircraft is then lifted back onto the catapult. The Seahawk was built in Columbus, Ohio with fixed landing gear and then flown to a seaplane base to have the main and wing tip floats installed. The floats were manufactured by the EDO Float Co. at College Point, NY. EDO was one of the many Long Island companies that manufactured parts for aircraft made here.

When I had time and when we were in port I took flying lessons at a local airport in Norfolk, V A. I received my pilots' license and on long weekends flew into Roosevelt Field. The plane was an Aeronca Chief, two place. Later I flew a four place 150 HP Stinson Voyager and float planes at Reynolds Channel in Long Beach.

I left the service in 1949. My ship was decommissioned and in 1960 recommissioned as a Missile Cruiser, CLG 4. It was the only Cleveland Class light cruiser left and after 15 years of service was decommissioned again. Some time later the city of Buffalo, NY bought it from the government and it became a museum attraction at the Buffalo Naval Marine Park on the Erie River.

After the service I changed from aviation to carpentry and retired in 1990. I became a volunteer at the Cradle of Aviation Museum and helped restore many of the airplanes that are on display in the museum. For ten years I also flew Y4 scale radio control flying models. Yes, I built an 18 % scale Curtiss SC-1 Seahawk. I thank my friend Herb Wickman, my draftsman, also a volunteer at the Cradle who drew the plans for my Seahawk. I also had to build the catapult for my plane, 18 % scale, 14 ft. long.

The above article was originally published in the Long Island Early Fliers Club in the JAN / FEB 2005 issue.

Walt Nebiker Photos
SN, 4th Division, 1947-1948

SC1 On Crane

SC-1 being retrieved
by ship's crane

SC1 In Venice

SC-1 on catapult while CL 92
is moored pierside in Venice.
Note that plane's port wing
is in stowed position.

SC1 Makes Approach

SC-1 making approach to
towed sled. Note extended catapult with crew member directing approach and
ship's wake used to
smooth seas.

SC1 In Heavy Seas

SC-1 on port catapult
secured (hopefully) for
heavy weather!

Ens. Logan on SC1 Float

Ens. Logan on float of his SC-1

CL 92 MWB approach

Motor Whale Boat from ship prepares to tow SC-1.
Ens. Logan is standing
on SC-1 float.

Roger Oosterink Photos
DC3, R Division, 1947-1948

SC1 Launch from USS Little Rock

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 catapult charge.

SC1 Launch from USS Little Rock

Another great photo of an SC1 launch from LITTLE ROCK. This photo shows the plane clearing the lifelines a moment after the it left the catapult.

SC1 Salvage Attempt

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.

SC-1 Accidents (non-USS Little Rock related)
The photos below were obtained from the National Naval Aviation Museum,
U.S Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.

(No information pertaining to the circumstances or personnel involved was available from the museum.)

SC-1 Field Crash Photo #1

SC-1 Crash in Cornfield (Photo #1)
SC-1 Field Crash #2

SC-1 Crash in Cornfield (Photo #2)

SC1 on trailer

Wrecked SC-1 on Flatbed Trailer

SC-1 Crash 1945

Wrecked SC-1 in Field
(ca. 1945)

SC-1's in the News

Seaplane Rescues F6F Pilot
Small SC-1 Outstrips Larger Planes

Although the SC-1 Seahawk is not supposed to be a rough- weather plane, it rescued a downed Hellcat pilot from the turbulent and cold Atlantic off Nantucket Island recently while a Coast Guard PBY and a Navy B-17 from VX-4 orbited over- head.

    The pilot of the rescue plane, Lt.(jg) B.A. Hoffman was from the aviation unit of the U.S.S. Little Rock CL 92.  He was taking off from Quonset Point ramp when he heard the rescue reports coming in, so he proceeded to the scene. He made the landing and rescued the pilot who was near death from exposure.

    The rescue by the little cruiser float plane was a source of satisfaction to its proponents, who sometimes feel observation aviation is a Navy stepchild, according to the Little Rock aviation unit.

(Source unknown)
VO Squadron Serves Fleet
Seaplane Makes First GCA Landing

VO-2,  ATLANTIC --- The observation pilot-plane "pool" idea for the fleet has gotten off to a good start with this newly formed squadron providing detachments for numerous operations.

    The Mediterranean Fleet, the USS Worcester shakedown, Second Task Fleet operations and cruises by the Missouri, Little Rock, Providence and Albany have provided "jobs" for the squadron.  Under the new plan, instead of each cruiser and battleship having its own observation planes and pilots, they "borrow" them from VO-2 when they need them.

    Squadron pilots are busy with instrument and cross-country training at its Norfolk base. This training came in handy recently when two SC-1 pilots were caught in instrument weather near Quonset and had to come in by GCA at Boston. This is believed the first "live run" GCA approach ever completed by VO-type aircraft.

(Source unknown)

The men who flew USS Little Rock's SC-1's

Fitzpatrick, Charles "Charlie" R. , LTJG (See photo below)
Frank, Jules ("Senior Aviator")  (See Schultz)
Friedlein, Robert "Bob", Ens. (See Walde Lindemann photos above.)
Hoffman, B. A., LTJG  (See "Arkansas Traveler" 09 Jul 47, 17 Sep 47)
 Logan, Ens.  (See Nebiker photos above.)
Merryman, Wayne R. , Ens (See Breslin's comments)  (See accident 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)

Lt. Fitzpatrick & Unknown Pilot

The above photo, in the 1945-1949 Cruise Book, reads
"Lieutenant Fitzpatrick (left) 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

Crew Recollections:

From: Al Yoder, FC2/C, 1946-1949

"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 they were located somehow and the Destroyers and Little Rock took off at high speed. The impressive thing was that after an hour the Rock passed all the Destroyers and arrived at the downed aircraft, & recovered them. 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, I witnessed and described, (on SP phone), our only complete aircraft loss during my time aboard.  Ensign Wayne R. Merryman was landing one of our scout planes south of Cuba, on the smoothed-over water surface our ship 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 bright, clear sea, teeming with hundreds of visible sharks.  I reported the sharks immediately on my SP phone, but they were also clearly visible from 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 across the aisle), immediately dove over his bow and swam to the pilot who was losing consciousness.   Grasping the pilot's life vest collar, "Sully", or Cox. W. M. Sullivan, swam closer to the whaleboat and then helped push the limp pilot aboard, as others pulled him in.  "Sully" did get a Life Saving Medal for risking a plunge into shark-infested waters against orders." (Click HERE for more details and photos.)
August 2008

From: Anthony Mastroianni, 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

From: Don Slack, S1/C 1946-47

"As near as I can remember, Lt. Fitzpatrick was lost when he landed after being catapulted off the aft stern practicing take-offs and landings in the North Atlantic".
13 Jun 08

From: Arthur Schultz, CDR. MC, USN (Ship's Doctor) 1945-46
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

Some thoughts from others about the Curtiss SC1

"Aloha, Charley, Aloha"

by Patricia Groves

American Aircraft Modeler Magazine
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 sailors.

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 under powered 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 Charley flag.

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 the face.

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. Literally.

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 wait!

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., Inc., 1972.)

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

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