Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawk
Operating from U.S. Navy airships during the early 1930s, diminutive Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawks tested one of the more imaginative ideas in aviation history. Deployed with the USS Akron and Macon, they turned these airships into flying aircraft carriers. The airplanes, which could be released and recovered in flight, were to be used for attack, for defense of the airships, and to greatly increase search range for the Navy's giant, helium-filled dirigibles.
Eight Sparrowhawks were produced for this purpose. The first arrived at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, New Jersey, in June 1932, and experimental trials with airship-based fighter support were brief. The Akron was lost in a storm on April 4, 1933; the Macon crashed off the California coast on February 12, 1935. Before these accidents, not a single Sparrowhawk was lost. However, with only three remaining, and no dirigible from which to operate, the aircraft were relegated to utility flying.
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