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The Curtiss Model 85 was the last heavy observation type to be purchased by the Army at $50,826.00 in 1939. The Owl was used for record-setting map and survey flights.
Inward folding doors in the observers cockpit provided for twin camera ports. A retractable turtle back, created for the SOCSeagull, was used to provide a maximum field of fire for the observers .30 cal machine gun.
The O-birds quickly fell from favor as they were an easy target and their duties were passed on to faster, more heavily armed fighter-bombers.
While in Brooks, Texas on January 10, 1942, it is of record that 2nd Lt. George Sloan ground looped while taxiing and severely damaged this aircraft.
Acquired by Yanks from the Experimental Aircraft Association and restored, this is the only airworthy Owl in existence.
Delivered: August 27, 1941
Aug 1941 - 108th Observation Sqd, Chicago, AP IL
Oct 1941 - Observer Training School Brooks AAF, TX
Oct 1943 - 99th Sub Depot Sioux Falls AAF, SD.
Aug 1944 - Cimmaron Field, OK to dispose as surplus
Stricken: August 1944
First Produced: 1940
Powerplant: P/W R1340-51
Prop: Hamilton Standard
Service Ceiling: 21,000 ft.
Cruise: 192 mph
Top Speed: 220 mph
Range: 700 miles
Empty Weight: 4,231 lbs
Gross Weight: 5,364 lbs
Wing Span: 40’9”
Wing Area: 210 sq. ft.
Armament: (1) .30 cal machine
gun through prop, (1)
.30 cal flex mount in observers
Number Built: 203 total