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Northrop Gamma 2 / UC-100


In January 1932 John Northrop and Donald Douglas formed the Northrop Corporation and the first aircraft from the new corporation was the Northrop Gamma, several of which were built to special order for record-breaking flights and research work. The first two aircraft, a Gamma 2A and a Gamma 2B, were powered respectively by a 585kW Wright and 373kW Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial. Both were delivered at the end of 1932, the first to Texaco who loaned it to Frank Hawks for record-breaking flights.

Gamma NR12265 was built for Lieutenant Commander Frank Hawks of the Texas Company, as a long-range, high speed mail transport in 14/2/33. Named Texaco Sky Chief, it was flown out to the Antarctic via South America to assist with the search for Lincoln Ellsworth when he and pilot Herbert Hollick-Kenyon were declared missing in late 1935. Later sold to “Gar’ Wood and renamed Kinjockety II, it exploded in midair during the 1936 Bendix Trans-continental Race.

The second, 2B NR12269, being the first to fly after being completed in August 1932. Sold in early 1933 to millionair explorer Lincoln Ellsworth, it was shipped to the Antarctic in late 1933 and test flown on skis by Bernt Balchen before being damaged in an unseasonable ice breakup. The aircraft was back in Dunedin, New Zealand, on 28/1/34 for transshipment on to California for repairs. Returned to the United States after the successful trans polar cap flights between 23/11 and 9/12/35, the Gamma was presented to the Smithsonian on 25/4/36.



TWA bought three Gamma 2D aircraft with 529kW Wright Cyclone engines as single-seat mailplanes in 1934. The second was later re-engined with a 578kW Wright and was used by Texaco to test oil temperatures and flows before being sold to the US Army Air Corps, which designated it UC-100.

A number of Gammas were delivered to individual customers, including two to the UK, a 2E for the Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment and a Gamma 2L, the last to be built, was used by the Bristol Aeroplane Co. as a test-bed for its Hercules engines.

The Chinese government ordered 24 Gamma 2E aircraft as light bombers, with 529kW Wright engines. They could carry a 726kg bombload and had four 7.62mm forward-firing machine-guns in the wings, and one rearward-firing in the rear cockpit. A further 25 Gamma 2Es were assembled in China from components provided by Northrop.

Engine: Pratt & Whitney Wasp, 500 hp
Seats: 2
Range: 2000 miles


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