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Curtiss 58 / F9C Sparrowhawk




Designed to meet a lightweight shipboard fighter requirement - other contenders being the Berliner Joyce XFJ-1 and General Aviation XFA-1 - the XF9C-1 was flown on 12 February 1931.
It failed to gain acceptance as a carrier-based aircraft, but its small dimensions commended it for use from the dirigibles Akron and Macon which had been designed with internal hangar bays. The XF9C-1 was subsequently fitted with the so-called “skyhook” which engaged the retractable trapeze featured by the dirigibles, some directional instability resulting from the hook dictating the enlarging of the vertical tail surfaces.




A second prototype, the XF9C-2 with single-strut main undercarriage members, was built at Curtiss expense prior to the placing of a US Navy contract for six F9C-2s, which featured a similar tripod undercarriage strut arrangement to the XF9C-1. he XF9C-2 was purchased by the US Navy and modified to F9C-2 standard.
The F9C-2 was powered by a 438 hp Wright R-975-E3 radial engine and carried an armament of two 03-in (7,62-mm) Browning machine guns.
Originally intended to provide fighter protection for the dirigibles, the F9C-2s were used primarily to extend the reconnaissance capabilities of the parent craft. The Akron received her complement of aircraft in June 1932, ten months after she was commis-sioned and tests soon realized her potential as an aircraft-carrier whose fighters could patrol beyond the horizon, controlled by radio from an airborne command post aboard the airship. Akron went down in the Atlantic on 3 April 1933 during a violent storm, but the parasite ex-periments continued with Macon until 12 February 1935, when her top fin disintegrated inflight, half her helium escaped and Macon went into the sea together with four of the F9C-2s. The US Navy's affair with airships and trapeze aircraft was finished.


Engine: 438 hp Wright R-975-E3 radial
Span, 25 ft 5 in (7,75 m)
Length, (6,27 m)
Height: 10 ft 1 11.5 in (3,34 m).
Wing area, 173 sq ft (16,07 sq.m).
Empty weight, 2,089 lb (947 kg)
Loaded weight, 2,770 lb (1 256 kg)
Max speed, 176 mph (284 km/h) at 4,000 ft (1220 m)
Initial climb, 1,700 ft/min (8,63 m/sec)
Range, 350 mls (563 km)
Armament: two 0.30-in (7,62-mm) Browning machine guns.




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