P.Bowers Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947 (Putnam)
The unique BT originated early in 1917 following discussions between Glenn Curtiss and US Coast Guard personnel concerning the possible use of aircraft to deliver lifeboats from shore stations to ships in distress beyond the breakers or at sea. Having a conventional aeroplane carry a boat was ruled impractical. Curtiss then designed what was essentially a winged lifeboat, with a hull more boat-like than on previous flying-boats.
The BT had two unconventional features. The 200 hp Curtiss V-2-3 engine was installed in the hull and drove two tractor propellers through shafts and gears, and the triplane wings and boom-mounted tail surfaces could be jettisoned if necessary to allow the hull to operate as a pure boat driven by a marine propeller and a small auxiliary motor. The pilots sat in a side-by-side cockpit behind the wings.
The power transmission system of the BT proved unworkable from the start. The engine was then installed ahead of the middle wing and turned a single direct-drive tractor propeller. The US Navy bought the modified BT in December 1917 and assigned Navy serial number A2277.
The BT was of no use to the Navy, which encountered problems of hull strength, spray protection for the crew, the proximity of the propeller to the relocated front cockpit, and the danger of hand-starting engines in seaplanes. The BT was surveyed (Surveyed is a US military term meaning written off and ordered to be scrapped) on 9 June, 1919.
Span 57 ft (17,37 m); length 40 ft (12,19 m); height 16 ft (4,87 m).