Twenty-seven BF2C-1 were ordered by the U.S. Navy, with a raised rear turtledeck, a semi-enclosed cockpit, and a metal-framed lower wing. It was armed with two .30 calibre Browning machine guns and three hardpoints for 500 lb (230 kg) of external stores. Delivered in October 1934, they were assigned to VB-5 on the aircraft carrier USS Ranger, but served only a few months before difficulties with the landing gear led to their withdrawal. In spite of its short service run many of the innovations developed for the Goshawk line found wide use in Navy aircraft for years to follow. They were the last Curtiss fighter accepted for service with the U.S. Navy.
The export version Model 68 Hawk III reverted to the classic wood/Clark Y wings and was powered by a 770 hp (570 kW) R-1820-F53. Chinese Hawk IIIs served as multi-purpose aircraft when combat operations against the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces began in earnest in August 1937, and were considered the Nationalist Chinese Air Force's frontline fighter-pursuit aircraft along with their inventory of Hawk IIs, Boeing Model 281 "Peashooters" and Fiat CR.32s. These aircraft were used against both the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy Air Forces and both ground and naval targets with considerable success through the end of 1937, before being superseded by the better-armed and faster Polikarpov I-15 and I-16 fighters. In the summer of 1940, nine surviving Hawk-III fighters, the F11C exported to the Nationalist Chinese Air Force served as night fighters to defend the Chinese wartime capital Chongqing from Japanese night bombing runs with the 22nd Squadron of the 4th Group.
In early 1935, Thailand placed an order for 24 Curtiss Hawk IIIs at a cost of 63,900 Baht each, and a manufacturing license was also bought. The first 12 Hawk IIIs were shipped to Thailand in August and the remaining 12 arrived in late 1935, which were named Fighter Type 10. A total of 50 Hawk IIIs were locally built during 1937 and 1939. The type was used against the French in the Franco-Thai War and the Japanese invaders in December 1941, then relegated for use as trainers. Some of these aircraft were still active in 1949 and one airframe (KH-10) survives in the Royal Thai Air Force Museum.
The Model 79 Hawk IV demonstrator had a fully enclosed cockpit and a 790 hp (590 kW) R-1820-F56.