Whatever happened to the N3N-1?

I have always wondered why we don’t see any N3N-1 aircraft. The only intact N3N-1 is in the country of Chile (South America), shown in this photo:
0719 CC-DME

I am only aware of one existing N3N-1 (partial) airframe in the United States.

The N3N-3 has a survival rate of about 20%. With a production run of 180 aircraft, how come so few N3N-1 aircraft survive? If they survived at the same rate as the N3N-3 there ought to be a couple of dozen out there.

Like the discussions in the recent post about the BT-13, a major part of the answer lies in the commercial aspects. In a recent phone call, Ken Burnham gave the most important clue – the CAA (Civil Aeronautics Administration, the predecessor to the FAA) never type certified the N3N-1. So there were never any standard category N3N-1 airworthiness certificates issued.

It is hard to find documentation on CAA regulations.  I wonder if the restricted category (Agricultural) required conversion from an aircraft with a standard category aircraft?  If so, then perhaps there were no legal N3N-1 agricultural aircraft. Or else the process was so burdensome that few bothered to jump through the paperwork hoops.  I have heard rumors of an operator in Mississippi who was flying an N3N-1 as agricultural aircraft, but I have seen no documentation.

Anyone have additional information on N3N-1 ag operations?


2 thoughts on “Whatever happened to the N3N-1?

  1. Raymond Shears

    In 1952 there was a N3N-1 with 450 P&W power plant owned by Cliff Crowl, Crop Dusting, in Phoenix, AZ , I personally washed the tail section and asked why the fuselage was narrower just forward of the tail. I was told it was just a different model than the other 5 N3N.s sitting there. The pilots named it “Gooney Bird” because at the difference. It crashed & burned up and. Don Churchill was the pilot surviving with burn scars on face & hands.

  2. David Jay Post author

    Thanks for the info. As I said above, a few may have made it into the fleet by whatever means, but not with a proper type certificate.


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