Curtiss SOC Seagull

Ordered in 1933 as the primary reconnaissance seaplane for the surface fleet, the Curtiss SOC Seagull went on to have a long career with the US Navy. Originally it was designed for ‘observation’ only, in other words spotting artillery fire for the fleet, but the ‘scout’ designation was soon added when it was realised the two roles could be combined.

A biplane with an enclosed cockpit for the two crew members, the SOC also featured folding wings to enable it to fit more easily aboard cruisers and battleships. Later models could have their main and outrigger floats replaced by wheeled undercarriage to enable it to fly from land bases and from aircraft carriers. By the time the Pacific War opened the SOC was due to be replaced by the SO3C Seamew, but this design was a failure and so the SOC had to continue in service through to 1944 – although the Vought OS2U Kingfisher was also available to the fleet.

The SOC was in action from the first day of the war as a pair of SOCs from the cruiser Northampton encountered an A6M Zero of the Pearl Harbor attack force and claimed it destroyed. The SOC went on to perform invaluable service during the US advance through the Pacific, performing gunfire spotting for the invasions of countless atolls and islands.

The ‘Seagull’, as it was nicknamed in 1941, was finally replaced by a combination of the OS2U and the single-seat monoplane SC Seahawk, which began to enter service in 1944.

Curtiss SOC Seagull Specifications

Curtiss SOC-1 Seagull
RoleScout Observation
Crew2: Pilot, observer
Powerplant1x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-18 (550hp)
Speed133mph (cruise)
165mph (max)
Ceiling14,900ft
Range587 miles (internal)
Armament2x Browning AN-M2 .30cal Machine Gun
Ordnance650lb bombs
Dimensions31ft 5in (length)
36ft 0in (wingspan)
14ft 9in (height)
Wing Area342 sq.ft.
Weight3,788lb (empty)
5,437lb (gross)
Number produced135
Curtiss SOC-2 Seagull
RoleScout Observation
Crew
Powerplant1x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-22 (550hp)
Speed
Ceiling0ft
Range
Armament
Ordnance
Dimensions0ft 0in (length)
0ft 0in (wingspan)
0ft 0in (height)
Weight
Number produced40
Curtiss SOC-3 Seagull
RoleScout Observation
Crew2: Pilot, observer
Powerplant1x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-22 (550hp)
Speed163mph (max)
Ceiling15,600ft
Range590 miles (internal)
Armament2x Browning AN-M2 .30cal Machine Gun
Ordnance650lb bombs
Dimensions31ft 5in (length)
36ft 0in (wingspan)
14ft 9in (height)
Wing Area342 sq.ft.
Weight3,788lb (empty)
5,366lb (gross)
Number produced127
Curtiss SOC-4 Seagull
RoleScout Observation
Crew
Powerplant1x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-22 (550hp)
Speed
Ceiling0ft
Range
Armament
Ordnance
Dimensions0ft 0in (length)
0ft 0in (wingspan)
0ft 0in (height)
Weight
Number produced3

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