Curtiss-Wright CW-22 Falcon

The Curtiss-Wright CW-22 was an advanced trainer and sometime reconnaissance aircraft, developed from the company’s CW-19 and the CW-21 Demon designs. Unlike these aircraft, however, the CW-22 was a 2-seat machine. Designed as an advanced trainer for the US Army Air Force, the CW-22 was sold to several foreign governments for use in a variety of roles, including the Netherlands and Turkish armed forces.

Export models of the CW-22 were equipped with one fixed and one flexible machine gun, to enable them to operate as scouts and light bombers in combat areas. Otherwise the aircraft was similar configuration to the CW-19 and CW-21, being a very lightweight aircraft fitted with a relatively low-powered engine. To maximise speed, the fully retractable undercarriage retraced into a streamlined fairings rather than recessing into the wing, which was itself very narrow in chord.

The Dutch ML-KNIL ordered dozens of CW-22s, most of which were not delivered until after the outbreak of the war. Many of these aircraft were therefore delivered to Australia and flown into the Netherlands East Indies from Darwin. Once arrived in Java, the Dutch CW-22s were assigned to reconnaissance squadrons and used to keep tabs on the Japanese forces as they advanced on Java. When the island was invaded, the CW-22s were pressed into service as light bombers in the hopes that they could do something to slow the advance – however, their efforts were in vain.

With the fall of the Netherlands East Indies to Japan, many of the remaining CW-22s were destroyed by ground crews to prevent them falling into enemy hands, but some were captured intact. These were operated in rear areas until a lack of available spare parts finally grounded the survivors.

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