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Curtiss 18-T Wasp

Kirkham Fighter / Kirkham 18T

 

Curt-18T-01
Curtiss 18-T-1 AS40065
 
Designed by Charles B Kirkham, the Curtiss 18-T two-seat fighter triplane was ordered by the US Navy on 30 March 1918 when a contract was placed for two prototypes. The first (AS40065) was flown on 7 May 1918. Designed around the Curtiss-Kirkham K-12 water-cooled 12-cylinder engine of 350 hp and four-blade prop, the 18-T was a clean aerodynamic design by contemporary standards and featured a monocoque three-ply fuselage and side radiators positioned between the lower wings. The proposed armament was two forward-firing synchronized 7.62mm Marlin machine guns and two 7.62mm Lewis guns on a Scarff mounting in the rear cockpit.
 
The 18-T initially suffered some tail heaviness which was corrected by applying five degrees of sweepback to the wings for further trials. A max speed of 262km/h was achieved with full military load in August 1918, the 18-T being acclaimed as the world's fastest aeroplane as a result.
 
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Curtiss 18-T-1 A-3325
 
The US Navy promptly ordered two examples, the first (A3325) of which was delivered in February 1919 with a single float undercarriage.
 
In the summer of 1919, the first Army prototype (AS40054) was fitted with longer-span two-bay wings, these having a span and area of 12.38m and 37.16sq.m respectively and 5° of sweepback were added, and in this form the aircraft became the 18T-2 (A3326), the short-span version becoming the 18T-1 (AS40059). The 18T-2 established a world altitude record of 34,610 ft / 10640m on 18 September 1919 (pilot Roland Rohlfs), and a second 18T-2 was built by Curtiss for export to Bolivia, where it arrived in 1920.
 
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Curtiss 18-T-2 Rohlf's altitude setter A-3326
 
Both Navy ships, used as land racers, crashed at the 1923 NARs.
 
 Curt18t
 
18T-1
Engine: Curtiss-Kirkham K-12, 350 hp
Wingspan: 9.70 m / 31 ft 10 in
Length: 7.11 m / 23 ft 4 in
Height: 3.02 m / 9 ft 11 in
Wing area: 26.76 sq.m / 288.04 sq ft
Take-off weight: 1383 kg / 3049 lb
Empty weight: 898 kg / 1980 lb
Max. speed: 265 km/h / 165 mph
Cruise speed: 145 mph
Stall: 58 mph
Ceiling: 22,000 ft
Seats: 2
 
18T-2
Engine: Curtiss D-12, 400hp
Wingspan: 40 ft 7 in
Length: 28 ft 3 in
Speed: 139 mph
Ceiling: 21,000 ft

 

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