Curtiss O-52 Owl

$31,000 reconnaissance aircraft as of 1940

Curtiss O 52 Owl at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
photo: U.S. Air Force

The Curtiss O-52 Owl was developed and manufactured by Curtiss-Wright Corporation as an observation aircraft during the early 1940s. It was operated by the United States Army Air Corps prior to and during the Second World War. The aircraft first flew in 1940 and was introduced in 1941. A total of 203 O-52s were built.

Manufacturer:
Curtiss
Country:
United States
Manufactured:
1940 to: 1942
ICAO:
O52
Price:
US$0.031 million (1940)

Specifications

Avionics:
Engine:
1x Pratt & Whitney R-1340-51 Wasp
Piston
Power:
600 horsepower
Max Cruise Speed:
190 knots
352 Km/h
Approach Speed (Vref):
Travel range:
609 Nautical Miles
1,128 Kilometers
Fuel Economy:
Service Ceiling:
21,000 feet
Rate of Climb:
1250 feet / minute
6.35metre / second
Take Off Distance:
Landing Distance:
Max Take Off Weight:
2,433 Kg
5,364 lbs
Max Landing Weight:
Max Payload:
Fuel Tank Capacity:
Baggage Volume:
Seats - Economy / General:
2 seats
Seats - Business Class:
Seats - First Class:
Cabin Height:
Cabin Width:
Cabin Length:
Exterior Length:
8 metre - 26.25 feet
Tail height:
3.03 metre - 9.94 feet
Fuselage Diameter:
1.4 metre - 4.59 feet
Wing Span / Rotor Diameter:
12.42 metre - 40.75 feet
Wing Tips:
No Winglets
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Description

In 1939, the development of the O-52 started. It was designed by the Curtiss-Wright Corporation as the concluding heavy observation aircraft intended for the United States Army Air Corps. In 1940, the aircraft took to the air for the first time. In the same year, the USAAC made an order for 203 O-52 Owls for observation roles. However, in 1941, the aircraft became unsatisfactory to modern combat situations in overseas areas. As a consequence, the aircraft was consigned to perform courier roles inside the United States and as an ASW on the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and Pacific oceans. In November 1942, the Soviet Union made an order for thirty aircraft in the Lend-Lease policy.

The O-52 Owl can carry two crew members. It has an external length of 8.03 meters, an external height of 2.4 meters, and a fuselage diameter of 1.4 meters. It has a tail height of 3.03 meters and a wheelbase of 5.17 meters. The wingspan is 12.42 meters and the wing area is 20 square meters. It has an empty weight of 1,919 kg and a gross weight of 2,433 kg.

The aircraft is powered by a single Pratt and Whitney R-1340-51 Wasp engine. It is a nine-cylinder single-row supercharged air-cooled radial piston engine with two overhead valves per cylinder, a single-speed centrifugal-type supercharger, two-barrel Stromberg carburetor, and an air cooling system. It produces a maximum thrust of 600 hp and drives a three-bladed metal propeller.

The O-52 has a maximum speed of 190 knots and a cruise speed of 167 knots at seventy-five percent power. The travel range is 609 nautical miles. It can fly up to 21,000 feet and can climb at a rate of 1,250 feet per minute. The aircraft could be armed with a single fixed forward-firing 7.62 mm machine gun and a single 7.62 mm machine gun on a flexible mount located in the rear cockpit.

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