Curtiss Model T Triplane
1916
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Curtiss Model T Triplane

At the time of its construction in 1915-16, the Curtiss Model T flying boat was the largest seaplane in the world. It was also the first four-engined aeroplane built in the United States. An unusual feature was the arrangement of the engines - four 250hp Curtiss V-4 tractors in a straight line, a feature used successfully up to that time only by the Russian Sikorskys and the single German Siemens-Forsman.

The control cabin was equipped for two pilots and an engineer. The control forces were so great that an early form of power boost was provided. Small windmills installed on the wings were connected to the aileron cables by electrically-operated clutches. The power of the windmill was imparted to the cable to aid the pilot. Similar devices were used for the tail controls.

The T was designed to requirements of the British Admiralty, which ordered 20 examples. While the first T was assembled inside the Buffalo plant, it was not flown in the US because the V-4 engine was not developed in time. The aeroplane was shipped to Britain without engines and 240hp French Renaults were installed there.

The big triplane was not put into service and the remaining 19 on order were cancelled. The basic design concept was retained, however; the Curtiss Model T was the direct predecessor of the five-engined Felixstowe Fury triplane that Cmdr Porte designed for the Admiralty.

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