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Felixstowe F5L

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Title: Felixstowe F5L  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Felixstowe F.5, Felixstowe F.2, Felixstowe F.3, Flying boat, Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Felixstowe F5L

Curtiss F5L patrol plane at Pensacola Naval Air Station
Role Military flying boat
Manufacturer Naval Aircraft Factory (137)
Curtiss Aircraft (60)
Canadian Aeroplanes Limited (30)
Designer John Cyril Porte
First flight July 1918
Introduction November 1918
Retired 1928
Primary users United States Navy
Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company (Aeromarine 75)
Number built 227
Developed from Felixstowe F.5
Variants Naval Aircraft Factory PN

The twin-engine F5L was one of the Felixstowe F series of flying boats developed by John Cyril Porte at the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe, England during the First World War for production in America.

A civilian version of the aircraft was known as the Aeromarine 75.


  • Design and development 1
  • Operational history 2
  • Operators 3
  • Accidents and incidents 4
  • Survivors 5
  • Specifications 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Notes 8.1
    • Bibliography 8.2
  • External links 9

Design and development

Porte had taken the Curtiss H-12, an original design by the American Glenn Curtiss and developed them into a practical series of flying boats at the Felixstowe station. They then took their F.5 model and further redesigned it with better streamlining, a stronger hull using veneer instead of doped linen and U.S.-built 330 hp (later 400 hp) Liberty 12A engines. The prototype was built and tested in England and the design then taken over by the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, where further modifications were made to suit their production methods under wartime conditions.[1] The American-built version was also known as the Curtiss F5L and (in civilian operation) as the Aeromarine 75.

The F5L was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory (137), Curtiss (60) and Canadian Aeroplanes Limited (30). Some were converted for civilian use by the Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company in 1919.

Operational history

The F5L entered USN service at the end of the war and was the U.S. Navy’s standard patrol aircraft until 1928, when it was replaced by the PN-12. In civil service, named the Aeromarine 75, the Felixstowe F5L could accommodate 10 passengers and was operated by Aeromarine Airways on flights from Key West to Havana, carrying the first U.S. Post Office international air mail on flights from New York City to Atlantic City, and from Cleveland to Detroit.


Arrival at Guantanamo from Panama
 United States

Accidents and incidents

Aeromarine 75 Columbus on regular flights in the Caribbean

On 13 January 1923, the Aeromarine Airways Aeromarine 75 Columbus suffered engine failure during a flight from Key West to Havana and landed in the Florida Strait. Buffeted by 10-to-15-foot (3-to-4.5-meter) waves, its hull began to fill with water. Four passengers died, but the ferry ship H. M. Flagler saved the other three passengers and both crew members.[2]


Both a hull and float from a US Navy F5L are preserved at the National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian). The hull is only partially skinned with wood to reveal structure. Both artifacts are presently in storage and not available for public display.[3][4]


Data from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum[3]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Capacity: 12-14 passengers
  • Length: 49 ft 4 in (15.04 m)
  • Wingspan: 103 ft 9 in (31.62 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 9 in (5.72 m)
  • Wing area: 1,397 sq. ft (129.8 m²)
  • Empty weight: 8,720 lb (3,955 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 14,334 lb (6,508 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Liberty L-12A V-12 water-cooled piston engines, 400 hp (kW) each


  • Range: 830 mi (1335 km)

See also

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ "USA Navy F-5-L Flying Boat." Flight, 31 July 1919, pp. 1024–1026.
  2. ^ Aviation Safety Network: Accident Description
  3. ^ a b "Felixstowe (NAF) F-5-L (hull only)." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian). Retrieved: 4 February 2011.
  4. ^ "Float, Felixstowe F5L." Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Smithsonian). Retrieved: 4 February 2011.


  • Bruce, J.M. "The Felixstowe Flying-Boats: Historic Military Aircraft No. 11 Part 1". Flight, 2 December 1955, pp. 842—846.
  • Bruce, J.M. "The Felixstowe Flying-Boats: Historic Military Aircraft No. 11 Part 2". Flight, 16 December 1955, pp. 895–898.
  • Bruce, J.M. "The Felixstowe Flying-Boats: Historic Military Aircraft No. 11 Part 3". Flight, 23 December 1955, pp. 929–932.
  • Donald, David and Jon Lake, eds. Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. London: AIRtime Publishing, 1996. ISBN 1-880588-24-2.
  • Taylor, Michael J.H., ed. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, Ltd., 1989. ISBN 0-517-10316-8.
  • Thetford, Owen. Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918. London: Putnam & Co., 1979. ISBN 0-370-30186-2.
  • "U.S.A. Navy F-5-L Flying Boat (PDF) (Contemporary technical description with photographs and drawings; first part of two-part article)". Flight, XI (31), No. 553, 31 July 1919, pp. 1024–1026. Retrieved: 4 February 2011.
  • "U.S.A. Navy F-5-L Flying Boat (PDF)(Second part of two-part article)." Flight, XI (32), No. 554, 7 August 1919, pp. 1058–1062. Retrieved: 4 February 2011.

External links

  • Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd Photographs including the first Felixstowe F5L built by the factory.
  • Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd:Photographs including construction and assembly of the first F5L built by the factory from 30 April 1918.
  • Film of US Navy F5Ls flying in formation
  • Film of US Navy F5Ls parked and sinking SMS Ostfriesland, July 1921
  • Film of an F5L being manouvered on a beaching trolley and other Curtiss types
  • The Aeromarine Website
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