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Curtiss 55 Kingbird / JC-1 / RC-1
Designed by Theodore Paul Wright and Al Wedburg, the Curtiss Model 55 Kingbird was a twin-engine airliner with a fuselage derived from the single-engine Curtiss Thrush. The Kingbird had two engine nacelles mounted on the struts on either side of the fuselage that braced the wing and the outrigger undercarriage. A distinctive design feature was the aircraft's blunt nose, located behind the propeller arcs. This allowed the engines to be mounted closer to each other and to the aircraft's centerline, therefore minimising asymmetrical thrust in case of an engine failure. For the same reason, the Thrush's single tailfin was replaced by twin tails on the Kingbird, and the main production model, the D-2 fitted a second horizontal stabilizer and elevator between these fins.
The prototype Kingbird C performed the first flight in May 1929 with two Curtiss Challenger motors with 185 hp each.
Kingbird C
The prototype was followed by two Kingbird D-1s with Wright Whirlwind J-6-7 motors of 225 hp. Airline "Eastern Air Transport" ordered a series Kingbird D-2; two D-1 modified in D-2.
Kingbird D-2
The only Kingbird D-3 took off in the summer of 1931 with two 330-horsepower Whirlwind J-6-9 engines.
Modernization was carried out before the first three Kingbird were assembled. Kingbird C became Kingbird J-1 with Whirlwind J-6-7 motors with 240 hp; the first Kingbird D-1-Kingbird J-2 with Whirlwind J-6-7 motors; the second Kingbird D-1 turned into a Kingbird J-3 with 300-hp Whirlwind J-6-9 motors, which was used to transport mail.
Selling for $25,555 each, Eastern Air Transport was to be the Kingbird's main operator, flying 14 of them for a few years. The United States Marine Corps also purchased an examplein 1931, first designating it JC-1, then RC-1 and using it as an air ambulance. Apart from some improvements to their requirements, it was the usual eight-seater Kingbird D-2. Others were operated by Turkish Airlines (under former official name: State Airlines Administration).
First flying in 1929, 19 were built in total.
Kingbird C
Prototype powered by 185 hp (138 kW six-cylinder Curtiss R-600 Challenger engines. One built, but found to be underpowered. Later converted to Kingbird J-1.
Kingbird D-1
Second and third prototypes (previously Kingbird J-3 and J-2) powered by 225 hp nine-cylinder Wright Whirlwind J-6-7 radial engines. Later converted to D-2 standard.
Kingbird D-2
Production aircraft with two 300 hp (224 kW) Whirlwind J-6-9 engines. 14 built plus two converted from D-1s.
Kingbird D-3
One-off Curtiss executive transport. Two 330 hp (246 kW) Whirlwind J-6-9 engines. Seats for five passengers.
Kingbird J-1
First prototype after re-engined with Whirlwind engines.
Kingbird J-2
Third prototype, J-6-7 engines.
Kingbird J-3
Second prototype, J-6-9 engines.
Single Kingbird D-2 for US Navy, originally ordered as JC-1 (J for utility), but delivered as RC-1 (R for transport).
Engines: 2 × Wright J-6-9 Whirlwind, 300 hp (224 kW) each
Wingspan: 54 ft 6 in (16.61 m)
Wing area: 405 ft2 (37.6 m2)
Length: 34 ft 10 in (10.59 m)
Height: 10 ft in (3.04 m)
Empty weight: 3,442 lb (1,561 kg)
Gross weight: 5,202 lb (2,360 kg)
Maximum speed: 142 mph (229 km/h)
Cruise speed: 112 mph (180 km/h)
Landing Speed: 54 mph / 86-8 km/hr
Range: 415 miles (668 km)
Service ceiling: 16,000 ft (4,880 m)
Rate of climb: 850 ft/min (4 m/s)
Crew: one, pilot
Capacity: seven passengers

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