(N3N at El Bosque, Chile, in 1981. Photo by Germán
Photo from the Unofficial
Page of Chile's Air Force.)
The N3N was the last biplane to see
service with the United States. Built by the Naval Air Factory, a Navy-run manufacturing
complex, it was produced to replace the Consolidated NY-2s and -3s operated in the 1920s.
The N3N would be the last mass-produced aircraft built by the Naval Air Factory.
The N3N was an equal span, metal and fabric biplane. One version was built with wheels and
another as a floatplane with center float and wing mounted stabilizing floats. The
prototype, the NAF XNN-1 was flown in August of 1935. The success of the tests resulted
in 179 N3N-1s being built. The first 158 being powered by a
220-hp Wright engine held in storage by the US Navy. An improved, US Navy-built Wright
engine of 240-hp resulted in the creation of the XN3N-2 and XN3N-3
prototypes. The N3N-3 had a new tail and landing gear.
The Navy produced 816 N3N-3s. After 1938, N3N-1s were
gradually upgraded with the new engines. Four N3Ns were transferred to the Coast Guard in
1941, and the rest served as primary trainers for the US Navy during World War II.
The US Naval Academy kept some N3N floatplanes after the war, but the rest were sold as
surplus. Both the N3N-1 and N3N-3 can still be seen flying in the United States in the
hands of avid warbird collectors.
Nicknames: Yellow Peril
Engine: One 235-hp Wright R-760-2 Whirlwind 7-cylinder radial piston engine
Weight: Empty 2,090 lbs., Max
Takeoff 2,792 lbs.
Wing Span: 34ft. 0in.
Length: 25ft. 6in.
Height: 10ft. 10in.
Range: 470 miles
Number Built: 995
Number Still Airworthy: ~20
(Click for larger)
AeroWeb N3N-3 Reference Page
CAF West Houston Squadron,
Texas, USA -- Operators of an N3N.
N3Ns in Old Oklahoma --
"Stories from an old Okie"
Navy N3N Parts and Restoration
-- Bill Hirzel, Toldeo, Ohio, USA.
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