Curtiss R2C-1

The national and international air races helped stimulate and maintain public interest and support for aviation during the years immediately following World War I. The races also provided a focus for the development of new, high-performance aircraft. Many of these special aircraft were government sponsored. The Army and the Navy sponsored such developments in the United States, as did the air forces of France, Great Britain, and Italy in Europe. The most successful of these aircraft were highly developed forms of the biplane configuration. Typical of such aircraft is the 1923 Curtiss R2C-I racer shown in figure 3.4. Standing beside the aircraft is Navy Lieutenant Alford J. Williams who flew it to first place in the 1923 Pulitzer race.
The aircraft is seen to be extremely clean aerodynamically and had a phenomenally low zero-lift drag coefficient,  The aircraft achieved a maximum speed of 267 miles per hour with a liquid cooled engine of about 500 horsepower. Some of the features that accounted for the low drag coefficient and consequent high speed are the minimization of the number of wires and struts to support the wings, the smooth, highly streamlined semi-monocoque wooden construction of the fuselage, the all-metal Curtiss Reed propeller, and the very interesting skin-type radiators that were used to provide heat exchange surface for the water-cooled engine. The external surfaces of these radiators, which formed a part of the surface of the wing, were of corrugated skin with the corrugations aligned with the direction of air flow. The remainder of the wing surface was covered with plywood.