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Sanders Aeronautics' Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3


Home Base: Ione, CA
Model: N3N-3
Wing Span:
34' 0"
Length: 25' 6"
Height: 10' 10"
Max Speed: 126 mph
Gross Weight: 2,792 lbs
Power Plant: Wright R-760-2 Whirlwind 7-cylinder
Horsepower: 235

The N3N was the last biplane to see service with the United States. Built by the Naval Air Factory, a Navy-run manufacturing complex, it was produced to replace the Consolidated NY-2s and -3s operated in the 1920s. The N3N would be the last mass-produced aircraft built by the Naval Air Factory.

The N3N was an equal span, metal and fabric biplane. One version was built with wheels and another as a floatplane with center float and wing mounted stabilizing floats. The prototype, the NAF XNN-1 was flown in August of 1935. The success of the tests resulted in 179 N3N-1s being built. The first 158 being powered by a 220-hp Wright engine held in storage by the US Navy. An improved, US Navy-built Wright engine of 240-hp resulted in the creation of the XN3N-2 and XN3N-3 prototypes. The N3N-3 had a new tail and landing gear.

The Navy produced 816 N3N-3s. After 1938, N3N-1s were gradually upgraded with the new engines. Four N3Ns were transferred to the Coast Guard in 1941, and the rest served as primary trainers for the US Navy during World War II.

After the war, the U.S. government declared most of the surviving N3Ns surplus, and sold them cheaply to private owners. Fitted with new, more powerful engines, these aircraft served effectively as crop dusters. Nonetheless, a few soldiered on well into the jet age with the Navy. Nearly 100 N3N-3s in the seaplane configuration operated with the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland where they formed the core of the Midshipmen's aviation curriculum. Both the N3N-1 and N3N-3 can still be seen flying in the United States in the hands of avid warbird collectors.

Bernie Vasquez, of White's Aircraft Restoration in Vacaville, CA, covered the N3N's wings and fuselage and then the complete N3N-3 was loaded into the trailer and transported to Don Copland at Arizona Aero Painting in Eloy, Arizona. After receiving it's beautiful paint scheme, it was again loaded into the trailer and transported back to Ione, CA where it was unloaded and assembly commenced.

First flight of the N3N-3 took place on September 5, 2008 with Dennis Sanders at the controls overhead Eagles Nest airport in Ione, CA.

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