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CW-21 file photo [19696]


CountryUnited States
ManufacturerCurtiss-Wright Corporation
Primary RoleFighter
Maiden Flight22 September 1938


ww2dbaseCurtiss-Wright Model 21 light fighters were originally developed by George A. Page and Willis Wells of Saint Louis Airplane Division of Curtiss-Wright in 1938, who intended on developing a small and nimble fighter whose sole purpose was to quickly climb to altitude to harrass enemy bombers, sacrificing dogfight capabilities (ie. the cockpits and the fuel tanks lacked armor protection). The model was designed for export only, as such philosophy did not match United States Army Air Corps' doctrine. The prototype took flight on 22 Sep 1938 at Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio, United States; shortly after, the USAAC formally rejected the design.

ww2dbaseThe CW-21 prototype aircraft was then delivered to the Chinese Air Force for evaluation; due to war demands, as Chinese representatives were negotiating with Curtiss-Wright for a contract, the prototype was already sent to the front lines; Curtiss-Wright test pilot Bob Fausel claimed one Japanese bomber shot down on 4 Apr 1939 while flying the CW-21 prototype aircraft. The contract for 4 completed aircraft (including the already-delivered prototype) and 27 kits was signed in May 1939. The three completed aircraft all crashed on 23 Dec 1941 in bad weather while being ferried from Rangoon, Burma to Kunming, China. Of the 27 kits delivered to the Loiwing (Leiyun) CAMCO Factory in Yunnan Province, China to be assembled, many of them were damaged or destroyed by a Japanese aircraft on 26 Oct 1940, and none of the survivors were completed by the time the factory was evacuated due to Japanese advances.

ww2dbaseMeanwhile, the Dutch Army expressed also interest in the CW-21 design. An order for 24 examples of the CW-21B variant was placed in Apr 1940. The kits were delivered to Andir airfield, Bandung, Java, Dutch East Indies in Feb 1941. They saw combat against Japanese Navy aircraft in early 1942, with several victory claims. Most of the Dutch CW-21 fighters were destroyed by the Japanese at the conclusion of the campaign; at least one example was captured by the Japanese and was pressed into service as a liaison aircraft and as a war trophy.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Nov 2013

CW-21 Timeline

22 Sep 1938 CW-21 prototype aircraft took its first flight at Wilbur Wright Field in Riverside, Ohio, United States.
4 Apr 1939 Curtiss-Wright test pilot Bob Fausel, flying the CW-21 prototype fighter, claimed one Japanese bomber shot down over China.
23 Dec 1941 Three CW-21 fighters crashed in poor weather while being ferried from Rangoon, Burma to Kunming, China.


MachineryOne Wright R-1820-G5 nine-cyl air-cooled radial engine rated at 850hp
Armament2x12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns, 2x7.62mm M1919 Browning machine guns
Span10.66 m
Length8.29 m
Height2.48 m
Wing Area16.19 m²
Weight, Empty1,534 kg
Weight, Loaded2,041 kg
Speed, Maximum505 km/h
Speed, Cruising454 km/h
Rate of Climb22.90 m/s
Service Ceiling10,500 m
Range, Normal1,014 km


CW-21 aircraft, United States, circa 1938CW-21 aircraft, China, circa 1941
See all 12 photographs of CW-21 Fighter

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Chuck Dinges, MSgt, USAF (Ret) says:
27 Nov 2017 03:11:06 PM

The Dutch CW-21s first saw combat against the Japanese Navy in early 1942, not early 1941.
2. Commenter identity confirmed C. Peter Chen says:
28 Nov 2017 05:26:48 AM

Chuck Dinges: The correction has been made. Thank you for bringing it to our attention!

All visitor submitted comments are opinions of those making the submissions and do not reflect views of WW2DB.

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CW-21 aircraft, United States, circa 1938CW-21 aircraft, China, circa 1941
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