In 1935, the Curtiss-Wright Corp, in response to an order from the US Bureau of air Commerce, and George Page designed and produced a single prototype of the CW-19L Coupe at its St. Louis, Missouri plant. A development of the CR-2 Coupe design, the model 19L was a two seat, fixed undercarriage low-wing monoplane, powered by a 90 hp 5 cylinder Lambert R-266 radial engine. Of all metal monocoque construction with an enclosed cabin, the CW-19 was envisioned to be sold to private owners.
The two occupants were side-by-side, with a car type door on each side. The fixed undercarriage was enclosed in streamlined spats. Registered as NS69, it was granted an Approval Type Certificate (ATC number 589) on 3 December 1935.
Later repowered with a 145 hp Warner Scarab engine, the sole prototype became the 19W, with a 154 mph maximum and 132 mph cruise speeds.
The performance and cost were too great for private pilots. No production was under taken and the original prototype was the only example built.
Curtiss decided to develop the design as a military trainer. As the model 19R, re-configured into a tandem layout, with the two seats under sliding clear canopies. Still with fixed undercarriage, power was increased, initially to a 350 hp Wright R-760 Whirlwind, and later a 420 hp Wright R-975.
A single, fixed synchronised 0.30 calibre machine gun was mounted in the nose and provision was made for an additional flexible mount machine gun in the rear cockpit (for use as a gunnery trainer). Bomb racks could also be fitted. Two 35 USG were fitted.
A photo-recon variant, with two belly-mounted cameras was also developed and at least one of the Bolivian examples appears to have been delivered in this configuration.
When the flaps were extended a latch was released, allowing the undercarriage struts to fully extend, the wheels dropping an additional 6 inches from the spats. When the aircraft had landed the struts were compressed again, retracting the flaps re-engaging the latch so the wheels were held in their ground position until the flaps were lowered for landing again.
The prototype, c/n 19R-1 was registered NR11781 and was first flown in early 1936. Approved Type Certificate 629 was issued on 19 February 1937. Performance was increased from the model 19L, with maximum 185 mph and cruise 164 mph speeds.
The prototype was written off in Brasil during a sales tour of South America. Orders were received for 23 from several Latin American governments.
Two more company demonstrators were built, c/n 19R-10 (N16417) in January 1937 and A19R-14 (NC16421) also in 1937. N16417 was later converted to CW-22 specifications and sold in May 1940, and NC16421 crashed in Miami in April 1938.
A total of 26 CR-19Rs were built between 1936 and 1938. 23 for export plus 3 company demonstrators.
An unarmed basic trainer version of the CW-19R was built as the CW-A19R. Flown in February 1937 it was tested by the US Army but no production orders followed.
The type is known to have been evaluated by the USAAC at Wright Field in Ohio, and also by USAAC pilots at Bolling Field and US Naval pilots at Anacostia NAS, both in Washington DC.
Ecuador ordered six aircraft in June 1936 and all were delivered in the following September. They were c/ns 19R-2 to 19R-7, and were given the Ecuadorian AF serial numbers 51 to 56. Two were lost in service and the remained served until at least early 1946.
Dominican Republic ordered two (c/ns 19R-11 and –12) in early 1937. One was not repaired after a landing accident in February 1942, and the other was retired in 1946, to be preserved in a museum near Santo Domingo.
Cuba ordered 5 in 1937, all delivered by January 1938. C/ns 19R-8, -9, -13, -15 and –16, they carried serial numbers 50-54 in Cuba. Three survivors were later re-serialed 100-102, all but 102 lost in accidents by 1949, when 102 was retired.
Bolivia bought the last ten produced (c/ns 19R-17 to 19R-26, Bolivian AF 118-127). They were delivered crated in late 1938 to El Alto aerodrome near La Paz and re-assembled under the supervision of Harry Berguer.
Engine: 90 hp / 67 kW Lambert R-266 5 cylinder radial
Max speed: 130 mph
Cruise speed: 115 mph
Engine: 145 hp / 108 kW Warner Scarab
Max speed: 154 mph
Cruise speed: 132 mph
Engine: Wright R-760E2 (J-6-7) Whirlwind, 350 hp / 261kW
Wingspan: 10.67 m / 35 ft 0 in
Length: 8.03 m / 26 ft 4 in
Height: 2.49 m / 8 ft 2 in
Wing area: 16.16 sq.m / 173.94 sq ft
Max take-off weight: 1588 kg / 3501 lb
Empty weight: 904 kg / 1993 lb
Max speed: 298 km/h / 185 mph
Cruise speed: 164 mph
Rate of Climb: 2000 fpm
Armament: 2 x 7.7mm machine-guns, light bombs on underwing racks
Engine: Wright R-975E3 (J-6-9), 336kW