Minnesota Flyer - Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

The Mystery Airplane

Curtiss-Wright CW-15D Sedan


September 1, 2019

Photo courtesy of Tom Lymburn

July contest photo - Curtiss-Wright CW-15D Sedan

Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) was truly one of aviation's great pioneers. He founded the Curtiss Aeroplane Company on 1 December 1910 in Hammondsport, NY. The company evolved through various mergers until 8 August 1929, when it combined with former bitter rival Wright to become Curtiss-Wright. Litigation between Curtiss and the Wrights had lasted from 1908 to 1913. In 1930, Curtiss-Wright absorbed Wichita based Travel Air. Curtiss-Wright did not survive long after WWII as an aircraft manufacturer, its last aircraft being the failed four jet XF-87 Blackhawk fighter of 1948.

The CW-15 Sedan was designed under the direction of former Travel Air engineer Walter Burnham (1897-1976) and resembled the Travel Air 10 in some respects. The aircraft in this Oshkosh 2018 photo is the prototype, X436W, now NC436W, which was built with the 185 hp Curtiss Challenger at the old Travel Air plant in Wichita under Approved Type Certificate #426 of 10 June 1931. After the prototype, a further eight were manufactured at St. Louis. Alternate power plants included the 240 hp Wright R-760 (ATC #444), the Wright J-6-7, and the 210 hp Kinner C-5 (ATC #425). Juptner, Volume 5, notes that the original factory price was $6370.00, which proved too much during the Depression. The price was later dropped to $4595.00. All total, 15 Sedans were built.

NC436W survived because it worked for a living, as a crop duster beginning in 1947, and later with an extended cabin and enlarged door, carrying up to eight sky divers aloft for jumps. With a 440 hp Wright R-975 up front, it also towed gliders.

Restored by Glenn Peck, NC436W won the Silver Age Runner-Up Award at Oshkosh in 2018. It is currently registered with the FAA to Albert Stix of St. Louis.

This month's honors go to Barb Myers of Richfield. All the best to our loyal Minnesota Flyer readers. CAVU!


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