In 1927, with Charles Lindbergh’s record-breaking solo Trans-Atlantic flight, a new fascination with flying quickly took over the public, and an ever increasing number people yearned to fly their own airplane. The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company of Garden City, New York saw this as a great opportunity to offer an affordable, durable, and easy to fly airplane for sale to the general public. Curtiss formed the Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company and located the factory in Anglum, Missouri. By 1928 the company began production of the B-1 Robin. The initial price tag was just under $4,000 dollars.
This high wing, enclosed cockpit monoplane incorporated the most reliable design concepts with the least expensive materials available at the time. The fuselage was constructed of fabric-covered steel tubing, while externally braced wings were constructed of wood spars and stamped aluminum ribs. For the engine the Robin used the highly reliable and inexpensive Curtis OX-5, the legendary engine used in the JN-4 Jenny. Later, a modified version, the C-1, was offered with a more powerful Challenger six cylinder radial engine.
Promoted through an extensive advertising campaign, highlighting the safety and durability of the aircraft, the Robin quickly became very popular. By 1929 the Curtiss-Robertson Company was producing 17 per week just to keep up with the demand. In all, 769 Robins were built, making it one of the most numerous civilian aircraft of its day. During the thirties Robins were a common sight at airports across the country. Perhaps the most well known Robin was a C-1 flown by Douglas “Wrong Way” Corrrigan in 1938 to Ireland. After being denied permission to fly to Europe by the U.S. Government, he claimed he got lost and went the wrong way while attempting to fly from New York to California. In July 1929 a Robin C-1, nicknamed St. Louis Robin 1, was flown by Dale “Red” Jackson and Forrest “Obie” O’Brine for a world’s endurance record of 17 days, 12 hours, 21 minutes.
The Museum’s aircraft, serial number 329, was built in 1929. It was restored between 1969 and 1972 by the owner, Jack Lysdale of St Paul, Minnesota. It was acquired by the San Diego Air & Space Museum from Johan M. Larsen on July 31, 1978. The acquisition was sponsored by grants from the Parker and Gildred Foundations.
Specifications Manufacturer: Curtiss-Robertson Airplane Manufacturing Company, St. Louis (Anglum), Missouri Type: 3-Place Monoplane Engine: One 90 hp liquid-cooled Curtiss OX-5 V-8 Wingspan: 41 ft 0 in (12.5 m) Length: 25 ft 9 in (7.85 m) Height: 7 ft 10 in (2.4 m) Gross Weight: 2175 lbs (988 kg) Max Speed: 100 mph (160 km/h) Ceiling: 12,500 ft (3710 m) Crew: One pilot and two passengers