Curtiss P-1 Hawk

The P-1 Hawk (Curtiss Model 34) was a 1920s open-cockpit biplane fighter aircraft of the United States Army Air Corps. An earlier variant of the same aircraft had been designated PW-8 prior to 1925.

Curtiss P-1 Hawk
Class Aircraft
Type Fighter
Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Production Period 1925 - 1929
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1923
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
Bolivia View
Chile View
Japan View
Thailand (Siam) View
United States of America 1923 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company 1925 1929 202 View

The Curtiss P-1 Hawk was the first US Army Air Service aircraft to be assigned the "P" (Pursuit) designation which replaced seven designations for pursuit aircraft, including "PW" (for "Pursuit, Water-cooled engine"). The P-1 was the production version of the Curtiss XPW-8B, an improved variant of the PW-8, 25 of which were operational with the Air Service's 17th Pursuit Squadron

In September 1923, the Army ordered production of the PW-8. The PW-8 (Curtiss Model 33) had been developed from the R-6 racer and was acquired by the Air Service after a competition with the Boeing Model 15, designated the PW-9, to replace the existing Army fighter, the Boeing MB-3A. Although the PW-8 was faster than the PW-9 (both having top speeds in excess of 165 mph), it was otherwise outperformed by the Boeing plane, and its surface radiator cooling system, mounted on the upper and lower surfaces of the top wing for streamlining, was more difficult to maintain and vulnerable in combat. However, Assistant Chief of the Air Service Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell agreed to purchase 25 PW-8s in return for assistance by Curtiss in making the Dawn-to-dusk transcontinental flight across the United States.

On June 23, 1924, taking off at 3:58 A.M., Army test pilot First Lieutenant Russell Maughan left Mitchel Field, New York, in PW-8 24-204, modified with additional fuel and oil tanks, made a dawn-to-dusk transcontinental flight across the US. Refueling five times, he landed at Crissy Field, San Francisco, California, at 9:46 p.m., one minute before dusk, covering 2,670 mi (4,297 km) in 20 hours and 48 minutes. His flight time included four planned 30-minute stops at McCook Field, Ohio; Saint Joseph, Missouri; Cheyenne, Wyoming; and Salduro Siding, Utah; and an unplanned stop in North Platte, Nebraska for additional fuel when a muddy field in Missouri did not permit him to take on a full load. He also lost an hour at McCook to repair a broken fuel valve after an over-eager mechanic had over-torqued the valve, damaging it.

The original fifteen P-1s served in the 27th and 94th Pursuit Squadrons, 1st Pursuit Group, Selfridge Field, Michigan. The first Hawk to serve with the Air Corps in quantity was the P-1A (17th, 27th, and 94th Pursuit Squadrons) beginning in 1925. In October 1928 the largest order of 33 P-1s was made. These were delivered by April 1929 as P-1Cs.

The AT-4 and AT-5 trainer variants served with the 43rd Pursuit Squadron (School) at Kelly Field, Texas.

Role Fighter plane
Manufacturer Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
First flight January 1923
Introduction 27 April 1923
Primary user United States Army Air Corps
Produced 1925-1929
Number built 202 built as PW-8, P-1, P-2, P-3, P-5, AT-4 and AT-5
Variants F6C Hawk
P-6 Hawk

General characteristics

  • Crew: one, pilot
  • Length: 23.0 ft (7.01 m)
  • Wingspan: 31.5 ft (9.6 m)
  • Height: 8.75 ft (2.67 m)
  • Wing area: 252 ft² (23.41 m²)
  • Airfoil: Clark Y
  • Empty weight: 2,195 lb (996 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 2,937 lb (1,349 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Curtiss V-1150-3 liquid-cooled V12 engine, 435 hp (324 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 155 mph (249 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 123 mph (198 km/h)
  • Range: 300 mi (483 km)
  • Service ceiling: 20,800 ft (6,340 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,460 ft/min (7.42 m/s)


  • 2 × .30 in (7.62 mm) fixed forward-firing Browning machine guns

End notes