Stearman C3


The Stearman C3 was an American-built civil biplane aircraft of the 1920s, designed by Stearman Aircraft of Wichita, Kansas. It was also the first Stearman aircraft to receive a type certificate.[citation needed]

Stearman C3
Stearman C3B.jpg
Stearman C3B
Role three-seat light commercial biplane
National origin United States
Manufacturer Stearman Aircraft
Designer Lloyd Stearman
First flight 1927
Status a few are still airworthy
Primary user air mail and commercial companies
Number built 179


The C3 was a rugged biplane with simple straight wings, a tough undercarriage with oleo shock absorbers and two open cockpits with the pilot in the rear and two side-by-side passenger seats in the front. In fact, it was a slightly modified version of the earlier model C2 aircraft. Changes included an increased volume oil tank and larger sized baggage compartment.[citation needed]

Introduced in 1928, the C3 was powered by a variety of engines of between 128 hp and 225 hp, each version having its own designation.[1] The last version of the C3 was the C3R which had several external differences including a cutout in the aft portion of the wing center section for improved pilot visibility, a headrest in the aft cockpit, and slightly increased chord of the rudder and vertical stabilizer.[citation needed]

Although there were several versions of the C3, most were either the C3B and the C3R. A few C3s were approved for float operations.[citation needed]

Operational historyEdit

The C3 was built with light commercial applications in mind, including passenger flying and business flights. The C3MB was a special mail-carrying aircraft based on the C3 with the forward cockpit enclosed as a dedicated cargo compartment. This version was operated in 1928 by National Parks Airways on airmail route CAM 26 from Salt Lake City, Utah to Pocatello, Idaho and Great Falls, Montana.[2]


Data from:Airlife's World Aircraft,[1] Aerofiles:Stearman[3] Variants produced were:

First of the C series powered by a Curtiss OX-5, later re-engined with a 240 hp (179 kW) Menasco-Salmson radial as the C1X. One built.[3]
Four aircraft similar to the C1, with the radiator mounted underneath, hydraulic shock absorbers and dual controls. Variously powered by 90 hp (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5, Wright-Hisso A, Wright Whirlwind and Menasco-Salmson radial engine.[3]
C3B Sport Commercial
220 hp (164 kW) Wright J5 radial engine.[3]
150 hp (112 kW) Wright Martin/Hispano Suiza E engine.[3]
180 hp (134 kW) Wright Martin/Hispano Suiza E engine. 1 delivered.[3]
190 hp (142 kW) Wright Martin/Hispano Suiza E2 engine[citation needed]
190 hp (142 kW) Wright Martin/Hispano Suiza E3 engine.[3]
190 hp (142 kW) Wright Martin/Hispano Suiza E4 engine.[citation needed]
260 hp (194 kW) Menasco-Salmson air-cooled engine.[3]
160 hp (119 kW) Curtiss C6 engine.[citation needed]
128 hp (95 kW) Siemens-Halske Sh 12.[3]
130 hp (97 kW) Comet 7D radial engine. 1 built, later converted to C3B.[3]
C3B with forward cockpit enclosed for mail carrying.[3]
220 hp (164 kW) Wright J5 Whirlwind radial engine.[3]
C3R Business Speedster
225 hp (168 kW) Wright J6.[4][3]



Aircraft on displayEdit

Stearman C3B in 1927 markings of Western Air Express airmail route CAM 12 at the Museum of Flight in Seattle

Specifications (C3B)Edit

Data from [7]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Capacity: 2 passengers
  • Length: 24 ft 0 in (7.32 m)
  • Wingspan: 35 ft 0 in (10.68 m)
  • Height: 9 ft 0 in (2.75 m)
  • Empty weight: 1,650 lb (748 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 2,650 lb (1,202 kg)
  • Powerplant: × Wright J5 , 220 hp (160 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 126 mph (203 km/h, 109 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 108 mph (174 km/h, 94 kn)
  • Range: 620 mi (1,000 km, 540 nmi)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)

See alsoEdit

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and eraEdit

Related listsEdit



  1. ^ a b Simpson, 2001, pp. 520–521.
  2. ^ Davies 1998, p. 142.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Eckland, E.O. "Stearman". Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  4. ^ Grey, C.G., ed. (1931). Jane's all the World's Aircraft 1931. London: Sampson Low, Marston & company, ltd. pp. 317c–318c.
  5. ^ Museum of Flight. "Stearman C-3B - Manufacturer was Stearman Aircraft Company". Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  6. ^ Ken Olsson. "Our Stories". Retrieved July 21, 2012.
  7. ^ Simpson 2001, p. 521.


  • Davies, R.E.G. Airlines of the United States since 1914. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1998. ISBN 1-888962-08-9.
  • Simpson, Rod. Airlife's World Aircraft. Shrewsbury, UK: Airlife Publishing Ltd, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-115-3.

External linksEdit

  Media related to Stearman C3 at Wikimedia Commons

  • The Stearman C-3 by Peter M. Bowers