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
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
was loaded into the
trailer and transported to Don Copland at
Arizona Aeropainting 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 took place on September 5,
2008 with Dennis Sanders at the controls overhead Eagles
Nest airport in Ione, CA.