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Curtiss CW-21 Demon



In 1938, chief engineer Willis Wells of the St Louis Airplane Division of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation began the development of a single-seat fighter based on the A-19R tandem two-seat military basic trainer. Designated CW-21, it had a Wright R-1820-G5 Cyclone nine-cylinder radial engine rated of 1,000hp for take-off and 850hp at 1830m, and an all-metal stressed-skin structure with a semi-monocoque fuselage. The mainwheels retracted into clamshell-type underwing fairings and armament was two synchronised 12.7mm machine guns.
The prototype CW-21 was flown on 22 September 1938, and shipped to China for demonstration. The prototype was purchased by the Chinese government and a contract placed for three production aircraft and 27 sets of components for assembly by CAMCO. The first production CW-21 was flown on 20 March 1940, and provision was made to increase the armament with a pair of 7.62mm weapons. All three CW-21s built by the parent company were lost as a result of engine failures after taking-off from Lashio while being ferried to Kunming. Assembly of CW-21s by CAMCO at Loi-wing had reached an advanced stage when it was decided to evacuate and, on 1 May 1942, burn the factory to avoid its capture by Japanese forces, the partly-assembled fighters also being destroyed.
In April 1939, Curtiss-Wright's St Louis Airplane Division flew the prototype of the CW-23 basic combat trainer which was essentially a tandem two-seat, lower-powered derivative of the CW-21 single-seat fighter. It introduced inward-retracting, fully-enclosed main undercarriage members and hydraulically-actuated rather than manually-operated flaps, and these features were adopted for a new version of the single-seat fighter, the CW-21B. On 17 April 1940, the Dutch government signed a contract for 24 CW-21B fighters (of which there was no prototype) and the first of these was flown the following mid-September. The CW-21B retained the R-1820-G5 Cyclone of the earlier CW-21 and armament comprised two 7.62mm Colt machine guns mounted in the forward fuselage. The CW-21B fighters were shipped to Java during October-December 1940, entering service with the MLKNIL. Their light structure and lack of fuel tank protection was to render them particularly vulnerable when committed to operations against Japanese forces in the early months of 1942, the last combat mission being flown by a CW-21B on 5 March.

Curtiss-Wright CW 21 Demon
Engine: Wright R 1820-G5, 986 hp
Length: 27.165 ft / 8.28 m
Height: 8.924 ft / 2.72 m
Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in / 10.67 m
Wing area: 174.269 sqft / 16.19 sq.m
Max take off weight: 4500.4 lb / 2041.0 kg
Weight empty: 3382.5 lb / 1534.0 kg
Max. speed: 274 kts / 507 km/h
Cruising speed: 245 kts / 454 km/h
Service ceiling: 34301 ft / 10455 m
Wing load: 25.83 lb/sq.ft / 126.0 kg/sq.m
Range: 548 nm / 1014 km
Crew: 1
Armament: 2x cal.30 MG (7,62mm), 2x cal.50 MG (12,7mm)




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