N3N Record Setting – How is the “N” unique?

Three features of N3N history are commonly cited as record-setting:
1. The only aircraft that was both designed and built by the US Government
2. The last biplane in US Military Service (1960)
3. The longest serving biplane in US Military Service, 1935 – 1960 (25 years)

3022 NASM

But the BT-13 post below got me thinking about the survival rate of the N3N. The high survival rate is due to a combination of stout airframe (built like a bridge…) and commercial success, with some dusters working into the 1980s.

Only 816 N3N-3 aircraft were built. The FAA has 170-some registrations (it varies – I got 173 last time I run the list) and at least 6 are registered in other countries. So we have about 180 registrations, or some 22% of total production currently registered.

Does any other WWII era aircraft in volume production come close to a 22% survival rate? For this discussion lets set the “volume production” minimum as 100 units produced – to exclude limited production prototypes (i.e. 3 prototypes built, 1 survives – a 33% survival rate). For the BT-13 to match the N3N-3 percentage there would need to be over 2000 registrations. Or how about 3400 T-6/SNJ/Harvard registrations?

Any other Record-Setting features of our favorite aircraft?
– Is it the only fabric covered, all aluminum aircraft (most fabric aircraft have welded-tube steel fuselage)?
– Is it the first all-aluminum structure primary trainer for the US military?
– Is it the only convertible Land/Sea primary trainer ever produced? (The OJ-1 was a fleet aircraft, not a trainer)

Please chime in with any thoughts and comments…


3 thoughts on “N3N Record Setting – How is the “N” unique?

  1. Jeff Houghton

    You might consider, that as far as I know off hand other then the “Wright Flyer”, the N3N also had the same manufacturer for both the airframe and powerplant 🙂

  2. Jeff Houghton

    Statement 1 is a bit off as the NAF built other aircraft types than the N3N so in that thinking, its not the only one built by the US Govt.

    1. David Jay Post author

      Jeff: how about if I put more emphasis as follows:

      “Only aircraft BOTH designed and built by the US Government”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s