Curtiss R3C / F3C
In August 1920, Curtiss the company was forced into receivership. Clement Keys, a Canadian financier, obtained funds to manage the company's debt and led it again to sound financial status. The Buffalo facility became the major facility, and the company remained the largest U.S. aircraft company through the 1920s. Its racing planes, including the CR-1 and CR-3, won several competitions.
The 1925 Pulitzer saw the R3Cs in a joint Army/Navy project, with No. A-6978 and No. A-6979 going to the Navy, and No. A-7054 to the Army. The airplanes took the 1925 Pulitzer Race at record speed and left everyone else far behind. Army Lt. Cyrus Bettis was the winner in A-7054 at 249 mph, Navy Lt. AI Williams was second in A-6979 at 242 mph.
The R3Cs were modified into R3C-1s by the attachment of twin floats and entered in the Schneider Race of 1925. There they caused a sensation, being far and away the most streamlined water-borne flying machines the world had ever seen. In this they heralded the great racing seaplanes to come, for which the Schneider will always be remembered. Prior Schneider racers had been worthy efforts, but little more. From 1925 until the trophy was permanently retired in 1931, it would attract the most exciting aircraft in the world.
In 1925, however, it was strictly an intramural contest between the Army's Jimmy Doolittle in the Pulitzer-winning A-7054, and the Navy's George Cuddihy in A-6979 and Ralph Oftsie in A-6978.
On Oct. 26, 1925, U.S. Army Lt. James H. Doolittle flew the Curtiss R3C-2 to victory in the Schneider Trophy Race on floats with an average speed of 374 km/h (232.17 mph). The others failed to finish. The next day he flew the R3C-2 over a straight course at a world-record speed of 395 km/h (245.7 mph).
For the 1926 Schneider of Nov. 13, Doolittle's A-7054 remained much as it had been, except that the pilot was Lt. Christian Schilt. Oftsie's R3C-2 (A-6978) became the R3C-3 with the change from a Curtiss D-12 engine to a Packard 2A1500, and the addition of a slick, symmetrical cowling; pilot, Lt. William Tomlinson. The final R3C-2 (A-6979) got a new Curtiss V-1550 engine to become the R3C4, while retaining Cuddihy as pilot. Part of the reason for this major effort to gain speed can be explained by the rules of the Schneider Trophy, which awarded permanent possession to the nation which won three times in a row.
Tomlinson's R3C-3 was wrecked during trials at Hampton Roads, Virginia. Cuddihy once again was forced to pull out before he had completed the race. Schlit did his best, averaging barely 1 mph faster than Doolittle's 1925 winning speed, but not fast enough to catch deBernardi, who clocked 242 mph in his Macchi M-39. Schilt won second place with an average speed of 372 km/h (231.4 mph). Schilt's airplane, repainted like the R3C-2 of Doolittle, is now at the USAF Museum, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum.