Curtiss Gulfhawk - (scan - donated)

Series of aircraft started 1924 as Navy F6C (and Army P-1) and later included P-6 series, in 1932, with larger engine. NASM's aircraft, the Gulfhawk 1A, a hybrid F6C-4, was purchased in 1930 by the legendary Al Williams, formerly a chief Navy test pilot. Later wrecked and rebuilt with all-metal fuselage. When he became affiliated with Gulf Oil Co., airplane repainted, named Gulfhawk 1A, and flown by Williams for exhibitions promoting Gulf products. 1930, appeared in aerobatics contest at National Air Races in Chicago and at Cleveland 1931. Gulfhawk 1A was idol of youngsters in 30s. Williams lived and talked aviation and wrote regular columns for newspapers and magazines. Hd found Junior Aviators which ultimately counted 460,000 members. With Gulfhawk, he staged some 600 air shows for young enthusiasts and for other aviation interests. Shows consisted of aerobatics with a dive bombing demonstration as finale. Attack used live practice bombs on beaverboard "fort" with black gunpowder inside. As bombs hit, powder was detonated and hut "destroyed" to delight of the audience. Ernst Udet, a WWI German ace, was impressed with accuracy of dive bombing and bought 2 Hawks to take back to Germany. During WWII, became number-two man for aircraft production and was instrumental in having Ju 87 Stuka, the Do 17, and He 111 designed with heavier structure required for dive bombing. Although initially successful, Luftwaffe later used more conventional bombing techniques. Heavier structure added weight to dive bombers and thus reduced payload and performance in other missions. Williams' dive bombing technique may have helped Luftwaffe initially but, in the long run, the weight penalty probably hurt them. 1936, Gulfhawk IA was replaced by Gulfhawk II (a Grumman G-22, also in the collection).


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