Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan Color Photographs

The Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan was the result of a 1941 USAAC specification for a high-wing, twin engine transport aircraft. The aircraft was to have the same performance specifications of the successful Douglas C-47 transport then in production, but the airframe was to be of all-wooden construction in anticipation of wartime shortages of Aluminum. Seen here is 42-86913, one of eleven YC-76 development aircraft produced, with Curtiss-Wright AT-9 “Jeep” twin-engined trainers. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The airframe was constructed of Mahogany plywood, which led to a heavy airframe. Power was provided by two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines, each rated at 1,200 hp. Even so, the Caravan proved to be underpowered, and failed to meet performance requirements. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
The first flight was on 03MAR43. The test pilots reported severe vibrations. On its second flight the prototype came apart in the air, killing both aircrew. A week later the tail assembly came off a second Caravan in flight, again resulting in the loss of the crew and the aircraft. Additional testing revealed instability and numerous weaknesses in the wooden structure. Efforts to correct these problems only added more weight, thus further decreasing performance. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
With a total of twenty-five Caravans built, the C-76 program was cancelled on 03AUG43. The effort was a costly failure, and the projected shortage of Aluminum never became an issue as the industry was able to increase production capacity. Curtiss shifted production over to the C-46 Commando, a very successful transport design. (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)
Today, the C-76 Caravan is relatively unknown, even amongst aviation enthusiasts. Its construction history is a cautionary tale, and its poor performance and short active life ensure it will remain among the forgotten aviation designs. That is, unless you are interested in 1/72 scale. Anigrand released a resin kit of the C-76 Caravan in 2019, proving once again that we live in the Golden Age of modeling! (NASM, Hans Groenhoff collection)

10 thoughts on “Curtiss-Wright C-76 Caravan Color Photographs

  1. Great post- I also was unaware of the aircraft. I’m surprised they made so many of what was evidentlyt an unsuitable airframe.

    Then again how many Blackburn Bothas werre there…?

    Cheers,

    Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

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