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SOC Seagull
Seagull seaplane configuration in flight
Role Scout
Manufacturer Curtiss-Wright
First flight March 1934
Introduced 12 November 1935
Retired 1945
Produced 1935-1940
Number built 322 (258 by Curtiss, 64 by the NAF)

The Curtiss SOC Seagull was a United States single-engined scout observation biplane aircraft designed by Alexander Solla of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation for the United States Navy. The aircraft served on battleships and cruisers in a seaplane configuration, being launched by catapult and recovered from a sea landing. The wings folded back against the fuselage for storage aboard ship. When based ashore the single float was replaced by fixed wheeled landing gear.

Curtiss delivered 258 SOC aircraft, in version SOC-1 through SOC-4 beginning in 1935. The SOC-3 design was the basis of the Naval Aircraft Factory SON-1 variant. The NAF delivered 64 aircraft from 1940.


Design and development

The SOC was first ordered for production by the United States Navy in 1933 and entered service in 1935. The first order was for 135 SOC-1 models, which was followed by 40 SOC-2 models for landing operations and 83 SOC-3s. A variant of the SOC-3 was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory and was known as the SON-1.[1]

Operational history

By the end of the decade, the SOC had replaced its predecessor throughout the fleet and production came to an end in 1938. By 1941, most battleships had transitioned to the Vought OS2U Kingfisher and cruisers were expected to replace their aging SOCs with the third generation SO3C Seamew. However, the SO3C suffered from a weak engine and plans to adopt it as a replacement were scrapped. The SOC, despite being a craft from an earlier generation, went on to credibly execute its missions of gunfire observation and limited range scouting missions.

Initially, the SOC was known as the XO3C-1 from production up through the first six months of service in the Navy. It was changed to SOC when it was decided to merge its scouting and observation roles. The SOC was not called the Seagull until 1941, when the U.S. Navy began the wholesale adoption of popular names for aircraft in lieu of their alpha-numeric designations.

When operating from ocean vessels, returning SOCs would land on the relatively smooth ocean surface created downstream of the vessel as it made a wide turn, after which the aircraft would be winched back onto deck.[2]


SOC-3A Seagull touches down on USS Long Island in April 1942, celebrating the carrier's 2000th landing
 United Kingdom
 United States

Specifications (SOC-1)

General characteristics

  • Crew: Two, pilot and observer
  • Length: 31 ft 1 in (9.48 m)
  • Wingspan: 36 ft 0 in (10.98 m)
  • Height: 14 ft 9 in ()
  • Wing area: 342 ft² (31.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 3,633 lb (1,648 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 5,306 lb (2,407 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney R-1340-22 radial engine, 550 hp (410 kW)



  • 1 × fixed, forward 0.30 in (7.62 mm) M1919 Browning machine gun
  • 1 × flexible rear 0.30 in (7.62 mm) machine gun
  • 650 lb (295 kg) of bombs


See also





  • Bowers, Peter M. Curtis Aircraft 1907-1947. London: Putnam & Company Ltd., 1979. ISBN 0-370-10029-8.
  • Green, William. War Planes of the Second World War, Volume Six: Floatplanes. London: Macdonald 7 Co. (Publishers) Ltd., 1962.
  • Larkins, William T. The Curtiss SOC Seagull (Aircraft in Profile number 194). Leatherhead, Surrey, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1967. OCLC 43484775.
  • Larkins, William T. Battleship and Cruiser Aircraft of the United States Navy. Atglen, PA: Schiffer Books, Inc., 1996. ISBN 0-76430-088-1. OCLC 35720248.

External links


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