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Old 8 March 2005, 02:03 PM   #1
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Curtiss Flying boats in Russian Flying Service 1914-1917

The discussion about Curtiss Flying boats in Royal Naval Air Service (AND the Wannamaker order for the tran-atlantic flying boat) compelled me to post this.
Curtiss Flying boats had been ordered, delivered and flown in Russia at end of 1914-major numbers of Curtiss a/c in the multi-million dollar order by the Russian General staff and the Russian Navy at its Sebastapol base were part of an ongoing endeavor through the end of 1917, at least. Initially Curtiss delivered the F boats and in 1915 developed the "V" model motor and the K boats, which made up most of the flying boats ordered by Russia. All the original spread sheets of every plane and every part, and every tool and dates of delivery, are now at Seattle Museum of Flight in the original Curtiss documents. ( I believe NONE of these records have ever been seen or used by any historian, yet)There is enough new material to fill a book on these very interesting and very complicated dealings.
The Russians constantly complained about failed engine parts and failed aeroplane parts and poor performance. The Curtiss Company itemized every detail of every complaint. The early V engines had accessory oil tanks, before they were redesigned with wet sump lower crank cases. Addtionally, they noted severe corrosion (later causing failures) of many of the parts that were shipped over to be assembled as K boats. They also noted that no suitable quarters or facilities were provided to erect the boats. Also noted that there was little if any cooperation between Russian military and Curtiss employees and that Russian Navy insisted thqat the K boats be erected by Russians. Curtiss noted that they often assembled the boats incorrectly. But it notes each and every K boat and engine that was approved by the Russians ("orally") Anthony Jannus (for Curtiss) came from the US with a contingent of 7 or 8 mechanics, shortly after Curtiss pilot Walter Johnson arrived. But Jannus did most of the test flights that the Russians allowed the Americans to do. There are pages of testimony, bordering on the comical, about some of the Russian tests and assemblies that led to critical failures. The Curtiss Company commercial representative, Mr. Ochs was arrested and jailed for 8 months as a "spy" on trumped up charges that are explained in detail. Short story was that the Curtiss flying boats DID work well, when assembled properly and fitted with the re-designed engines and when they did not suffer MAJOR corrosion during the trans-Atlantic shipment. (Possibly something to investigate in the British orders of the Curtiss Flying boats.) All the names and data are meticu;lously recorded in the records NOW at Seattle Museum of Flight **Along with the correspondence file of the MANY major configuration and design changes and price of the Wannamaker project for a Curtiss trans-Atlantic fying boat. in Wannamaker's own original letters.
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Last edited by joegertler; 8 March 2005 at 02:08 PM. Reason: spelling typo
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