September 18th, 2019
"Hull 341: The Navy-Curtiss Flying Boat, First Across the Atlantic" by Kent B. Lewis
Transatlantic travel was perilous during the first World War and Allied shipping was preyed upon by German submarines. The United States was shipping sea planes to England to combat the German threat, but needed a better way to get aircraft across the Atlantic. The design requirement for a flying boat emerged, one more than 10 times larger than anything previously built, and the Navy turned to Glenn Curtiss. In concert they developed the Navy Curtiss Flying Boat, known as the N.C. or Nancy. The Nancies were designed towards the end of the war and did not fly until after the Armistice, but the Navy decided to finish the craft and validate the concept and design.
No one company was large enough to build the entire aircraft, so components were contracted out to boat and coach manufacturers of the day. Herreshoff Manufacturing Company was asked to build one of the first 4 hulls, which they did in their Small Boat Shop. Herreshoff was known for conquering the Atlantic, hull number 341 became NC-4, and she alone would finish the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic in May of 1919.
The Nancies were technological marvels of their time, NC-4 survives today and is preserved at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. Mr. Lewis has had permission of the Smithsonian Institution to closely examine the Herreshoff hull, and will share photos and archival material of NC-4 as she currently rests on her launch dolly.
Captain Kent Lewis, U. S. Marine Corps (Retired) is designated an Unrestricted Naval Aviator who flew 4 types of rotary wing and fixed wing aircraft. He has a BA in History and Masters in Library Science, and currently flies as a Captain for Delta Air Lines. Kent and his spouse Audrey are maritime historians who build and restore small boats when not messing about. Their blog is found at smallboatrestoration.blogspot.com