Curtiss SOC Seagull Color Photographs

A fine study of two SOC-3 Seagulls in flight. These aircraft are from Observation Squadron One embarked on the ships of Battleship Division One (VO-1 on BATDIV ONE). These aircraft are from the second section assigned to USS Nevada (BB-36).
Another photograph from the same series, the occasion is a group formation of VO-1 aircraft during a fleet exercise in 1940. The red tail designates VO-1, the side number 1-O-4 indicates the squadron (1 for VO-1), the aircraft type (O for Observation), and the individual aircraft number 4, which is the lead aircraft of the third section of three.
A view of an aircraft of VO-3’s third section, indicated by the blue wing chevron and cowling. Section three was embarked aboard the USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). In the distance the fleet can be seen steaming in line.
Another of Nevada’s Seagulls. Although difficult to see due to the glare from the aluminum dope finish, the upper part of the cowl is in white, as is the upper wing chevron.
The third section carried blue on their cowls. The section leader’s aircraft had the entire cowl painted blue along with a blue fuselage stripe, the second aircraft of each section painted the upper section of the cowling, while the third aircraft painted the lower.
A beautiful view of the formation approaching the battle line.
The SOC’s pass over the battleships with a line of destroyers in the distance.
A series of photos taken by LIFE photographer Carl Mydans aboard the battleship USS Idaho BB-42 during the summer of 1940. The Seagull is seen preparing to launch from the catapult on top of Idaho’s Turret Three. The blue tail surfaces indicate assignment to Observation Squadron Three (VO-3).
A useful view of Idaho’s Seagull showing many interesting details. The yellow paint on the upper wing wraps around the leading edge to improve the airflow across the wing surface. The squadron insignia on the forward fuselage depicts Mickey Mouse looking through binoculars while riding a gun projectile.
Another view of the same aircraft reveals an interesting detail. The aircraft type designation was carried on the vertical tail surfaces along with the Bureau Number. In this case we can see this Seagull is not an SOC-3, but instead is an SON-1. The Naval Aircraft Factory produced forty-four Seagulls which were designated SON-1, the SON-1 was equivalent to the SOC-3 with a few minor modifications.
Idaho’s Marine Detachment in formation next to Turret Four. The battleships embarked three Observation aircraft, typically stowing one on top of the catapult mounted to Turret Three and two on the fantail as seen here.
A nice shot of a mechanic polishing the propeller of an SOC reveals details of the float and engine.