To meet the growing need of passenger and mail
air services, aeronautical companies worldwide, from Boeing to Douglas,
developed numerous models that could carry more mail and passengers across great
distances, in luxurious comfort of air-travel.
Curtiss Jennies JH-4
biplanes were heavily used by America during World War I and was a particular
favorite for barnstorming. After the War ended, surplus Jennies that have not
been destroyed in battle, were operated by Army pilots to deliver mail. However,
many of them had taken its toll during the war and their airworthiness was
The initial batch of deHavillands were actually meant as combat-aircraft during
World War I, but because the aircraft was only rolled out towards the end, many
deHavillands were never used at all. Hence, it became economically feasible to
use these deHavillands as mail-planes. However, despite having a good range of
350 miles and generous load, the deHavillands could have been described as a
pilot's worst nightmare or "flying coffins".
The sardine-like ergonomics of the plane was such that the pilot was sandwiched
between the engine and the mail compartment, which was a safety hazard as it
made evacuation during a crash cumbersome.
The pilot often had to bear with the exhaust fumes blowing into him from the
exhaust stack in front of the cockpit.
The compass headings often were misleading.
The altimeter could not function below 1000 feet.
However, an improved version of the deHavilland DH-4 was introduced. The flaws
listed above were corrected, and minor refittings were done. In the end, the
deHavillands proved to be efficient workers and delivered more than 775 million
letters in one year alone.
Stearmans were the answers to the growing demand for aircraft that will outdo
the aging fleet of Curtis Jennies and the deHavillands. They boasted of better
horsepower, and specially-fitted compartments that could carry large amounts of
mail in 1 trip, approximately up to 1000 pounds. "Model 4" of the
Stearman aircraft family was known as the "Junior Speedmail" as it
carried mail and cargo faster and more efficiently than any other plane, due to
its Pratt & Whitney high-performance engines.
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