Curtiss N-9H by Olimp

1/72 scale
Kit No. P72-005
Cost: $12.00
Decals: Two versions – Both U.S. Navy (White 2475 at Naval Air Station, Pensacola, 1918; Black 25D-N-3 at Naval Air Station San Diego, 1921)
Comments: Engraved panel lines; subtle stressed fabric over frame effect on wings; detailed cockpit; separate engine assembly; rigging guide provided


The Curtiss N-9 was a seaplane version of the famous Curtiss JN-4 trainer used by the U.S. Air Service during the First World War. To make the conversion, a single large central pontoon was mounted below the fuselage, with a small float fitted under each wingtip. These changes required a 10-foot increase in wingspan to compensate for the additional weight. Further modifications to the standard Curtiss JN-4 design were required to cope with stability problems that emerged in the N-9. They included lengthening the fuselage, increasing the area of the tail surfaces, and installing stabilizing fins on the top of the upper wing. The N-9 was initially powered by a 100-horsepower Curtiss OXX-6 engine. The U.S. Navy made use of wind tunnel data developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in its redesign the JN-4. The N-9 was the first U.S. Naval aircraft to incorporate wind tunnel data directly into its design.

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Garden City, N.Y., received a Navy contract for thirty N-9s in August 1916. Another fourteen were ordered by the U.S. Army, as it was also conducting seaplane operations at that time. The 100-horsepower N-9 was satisfactory for pilot training, but it lacked the performance needed for bombing operations and gunnery training. To meet these requirements, Curtiss replaced the OXX-6 with a 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza, then being manufactured under license in the United States by the Simplex Division of the Wright-Martin Company, and later by Wright Aeronautical Corporation. This improved model was designated N-9H.

A total of 560 N-9s were manufactured for the Navy during the First World War. Most of them were the Hispano-Suiza-powered N-9H model. Of these, only 100 were built by Curtiss. The majority were produced under license by the Burgess Company of Marblehead, Massachusetts. An additional 50 were assembled after the war by the Navy at the Pensacola Naval Air Station from spare components and engines.

During the war, 2,500 Navy pilots were trained on the N-9. In addition to training a generation of Navy pilots, the N-9 was used to develop tactics for ship-borne aircraft operations in 1916 and 1917, using catapults mounted on armored cruisers. After the war, the N-9 was again employed to successfully demonstrate a compressed air turntable catapult. This type of catapult was later installed on battleships, replacing turret-mounted platforms for launching aircraft. In July 1917, several N-9s were acquired by the Sperry Gyroscope Company and were used as test vehicles for aerial torpedo experiments conducted for the Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance. The N-9 was withdrawn from the U.S. Navy inventory in 1927 after ten years of exemplary service.

The Kit

The Curtiss N-9H is one of only five injected molded aircraft kits manufactured by Olimp from the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union. Most of their offerings are resin kits produced under the Pro Resin label. The Curtiss N-9H is injection molded in grey and consists of 127 parts. The wings, tail and rudder have been molded with a very nice fabric-over-frame effect and there is subtle raised detail on the fuselage as well as the float. The cockpit assembly consists of nine parts and is fairly detailed for the scale, with separate seats, rudder pedals, and control sticks for the tandem positions.

The fuselage halves bear a small amount of internal detail for the cockpit sidewalls, and there is a separate engine assembly consisting of six parts. Attaching the upper wing to the fuselage and lower wing may require a jig and a bit of patience, as there are a total of sixteen struts connecting the upper wing with its separately moleded ailerons to the other components. In the latter stages of construction, there are a number of small detail parts, including control levers for the ailerons, elevators, and rudder, six struts for the main float, and the smaller float assemblies for the underside of the tip of each lower wing.

There is a detailed rigging guide consisting of three illustrations, the most helpful of which is the front view of the aircraft once the rigging is completed. Finally, there are profile illustrations of two versions of the N-9H for which markings are provided, along with a paint guide which includes Humbrol, Model Master, and Revell paint numbers.

An interesting and unusual kit of a post-World War I seaplane trainer. Highly recommended.


  • National Air & Space Museum
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