SC Seahawk
A U.S. Navy SC-1 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida, in 1946
Role Scout seaplane
Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
First flight 16 February 1944
Introduction 1944
Retired 1949
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 577

The Curtiss SC Seahawk was a scout seaplane designed by the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company for the United States Navy during World War II. The existing Curtiss SO3C Seamew and Vought OS2U Kingfisher were gradually replaced by the Seahawk in the late stages of the war and into peacetime.[1]

Design and development

USS Alaska recovering a SC-1 in March 1945, during the Iwo Jima operation. The aircraft is awaiting pickup by the ship's crane after taxiing onto a landing mat.
A U.S. Navy SC-1 from USS Duluth over Shanghai, China in 1948
An SC-1 Seahawk being hoisted aboard USS Manchester during a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea from in 1947/1948
Seahawk on board USS Birmingham

Work began in June 1942, following a US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics request for observation seaplane proposals. Curtiss submitted the Seahawk design on 1 August 1942, with a contract for two prototypes and five service test aircraft awarded on 25 August.[1] A production order for 500 SC-1s followed in June 1943, prior to the first flight of the prototypes.[2]

While only intended to seat the pilot, a bunk was provided in the aft fuselage for rescue or personnel transfer. Two 0.5 in (12.7 mm) M2 Browning machine guns were fitted in the wings, and two underwing hardpoints allowed carriage of 250 lb (113 kg) bombs or, on the right wing, surface-scan radar.[1] The wings were foldable.[3] The main float, designed to incorporate a bomb bay, suffered substantial leaks[citation needed] when used in that fashion, and was modified to carry an auxiliary fuel tank.[1]

The first flight of a prototype XSC-1 took place 16 February 1944 at the Columbus, Ohio Curtiss plant.[4] Flight testing continued through 28 April, when the last of the seven pre-production aircraft took to the air. Nine further prototypes were later built, with a second seat and modified cockpit, under the designation SC-2; series production was not undertaken.

Operational history

The first serial production Seahawks were delivered on 22 October 1944, to USS Guam.[5] All 577 aircraft eventually produced for the Navy were delivered on conventional landing gear and flown to the appropriate Naval Air Station, where floats were fitted for service as needed.

Capable of being fitted with either float or wheeled landing gear, the Seahawk was arguably America's best floatplane scout of World War II. However, its protracted development time meant it entered service too late to see significant action in the war. It was not until June 1945, during the pre-invasion bombardment of Borneo, that the Seahawk was involved in military action.[1] By the end of the war, seaplanes were becoming less desirable, with the Seahawk being replaced soon afterward by helicopters.

Tri-color camouflage and markings on the Seahawk were in accordance with US Navy regulations from 1944, 1945, and later postwar regulations.

There are no known surviving examples of the Seahawk today.[citation needed]


Equipped with single-stage, single-speed R-1820-62 engine, 1300 hp at 2600 rpm at 1,100 feet[6] :Top speed in level flight 235 miles per hour (378 km/h) at 2,200 feet (670 m) with two wing bomb racks equipped and droppable AN/APS-4 radar on right wing rack
Upgraded engine for improved altitude performance: Equipped with single-stage, two-speed R-1820-76 engine, 1425 hp at 2700 rpm at 1,000 feet, 1,100 hp at 2700 rpm at 11,600 feet[7]:Top speed in level flight 261 miles per hour (420 km/h) at 17,400 feet (5.3 km) with two wing bomb racks equipped and undroppable AN/APS-4 radar on special fitting

Specifications (SC-1, float-equipped)

Data from Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947[8]

General characteristics



See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ a b c d e Bridgeman 1946, pp. 221–222.
  2. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1976, p. 153.
  3. ^ "Fleet Has Fast New Scout Seaplane in Curtiss Seahawk". Popular Science. 147 (2). New York: Popular Science Publishing: 72. August 1945.
  4. ^ Green 1962, p. 166.
  5. ^ Green 1962, p. 167.
  6. ^ "Navy SAC, SC-1 "Seahawk"" (PDF).
  7. ^ "NAVY SAC, SC-2 "Seahawk"" (PDF).
  8. ^ Bowers, Peter M. (1979). Curtiss aircraft, 1907-1947. London: Putnam. pp. 446–449. ISBN 0370100298.
  9. ^ Lednicer, David. "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". Retrieved 16 April 2019.


  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtiss Aircraft 1907–1947. London: Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Bridgeman, Leonard. "The Curtiss Seahawk". Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London: Studio, 1946. ISBN 1-85170-493-0.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Six: Floatplanes. London: Macdonald, 1962.
  • Mondey, David. American Aircraft of World War II (Hamlyn Concise Guide). London: Bounty Books, 2006. ISBN 978-0-7537-1461-4.
  • Swanborough, Gordon and Peter M. Bowers. United States Navy Aircraft since 1911. London: Putnam, Second Edition 1976. ISBN 0-370-10054-9.