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    The Curtiss T-32 Condor was a 1930s biplane that operated both as an airliner and military bomber. The passenger version could carry 12 passengers as a sleeper-transports or 15 passengers as a day-transport. They were operated by Eastern Air Transport, American Airways and Swissair. Construction consisted of old-fashioned frame-and-fabric components with a tubular wing spar and was powered by two 750 hp Wright Cyclone SGR-1820-3 engines.1 A total of 45 aircraft were built and it made its inaugural flight on January 30, 1933.

    At the time, there was a need for sleeper-transports and the simplicity of design allowed for quick production and delivery to serve this market. The Condor was the first airliner in the world to provide sleeping berths. However, the Condor remained in airline service for only three years making it the last biplane purchased for civil transport.2 It wasn’t long afterwards that the all-metal airlines, the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-1 made their debut in 1933. The only competing factor that the Condor had with the modern airliners was that it had retractable landing gear.

    The aircraft was easily converted as either BT-32 bomber or CT-32 cargo variants. These types were all for export. Two aircraft were delivered to the US Army as executive transports and given the designation YC-30. Two AT-32Es were used both by the US Navy and Marines and designated as R4C-1s. Both R4C-1s were later used for Admiral Byrd's 1933 Antarctic Expedition and explored 450,000 square miles of territory.3 Both aircrft were abandoned there.4

Specifications:
Curtiss T-32 Condor
Dimensions:
Wing span: 82 ft (24.99 m)
Length: 49 ft 6 in (15.09 m)
Height: 16 ft 4 in (4.98 m)
Wing Area: 1,276 sq ft (118.54 sq m)
Weights:
Empty: 11,233 lb (5,095 kg)
Gross T/O: 17,500 lb (7,938 kg)
Performance:
Maximum Speed: 176 mph (283 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 22,000 ft (6,705 m)
Normal Range: 840 miles (1,352 km)
Powerplant:
Two 710 hp (529 kW) Wright SCR-1820-F3 Cyclone, 9-cylinder radial engines.

Endnotes:

1. Kenneth Munson. Airliners Between the Wars 1919-39. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1972. 118.
2. Enzo Angelucci and Paolo Matricardi. World Aircraft 1918-1935. New York: Rand McNally & Company, 1976. 250.
3. Heiner Emde & Carlo Demand. Conquest of the Air. New York: Viking Press, 1968. 99.
4. Peter M. Bowers. Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947 Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1987. 396.

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Created October 13, 2013.