Curtiss HS-2L Flying Boat

June 3, 2022

Curtiss HS-2L Flying-Boat





Other Designations, if any:

H-14 (factory designation); HS-1L; HS-3L;

Aircraft Type

Patrol flying-boat


$30,000 (average cost per unit)

Wing Span

74’ 1”


18’ 9”



Fuel Capacity

141 gallons

Top Speed

91 mph

Cruising Speed

75 mph

Stall Speed

55 mph


575 miles

Empty Weight

4,300 lbs.

Gross Weight

4,632 lbs.



Service Ceiling



Vee-12 Liberty;  360 hp

Historical Information:

Curtiss HS-2L flying-boats were taken over from the Navy by the Coast Guard at Morehead City, NC, after World War I.  Available records show that four of this model were decommissioned and returned to the Navy in June 1926--however other documentation shows that the Coast Guard utilized at least 5 HS-2L's and 1 HS-1L flying-boats that were at the station when the Coast Guard began operations there on 24 March 1920.  The serial numbers of the four documented flying boats were: A-1170; A-1240; A-1474; A-1735.  A-1170 and A-1240 were constructed by Lowe, Willard & Fowler of College Point, Long Island; A-1474 was constructed by Standard Aircraft Corporation of Elizabeth, New Jersey; and A-1735 was constructed by Curtiss.

One of the pilots based at Morehead City and a Coast Guard aviation pioneer in his own right, LCDR William Wishar, described the Curtiss as:

It was a heavy plane; single engine (Liberty), pusher-type, open cockpit. It was staunchly built, could land in a fairly heavy sea when emergency demanded, and could take off in a moderate sea. It took off at a speed of 48 knots and flew at 55 knots, a leeway of 7 knots between flying speed and stalling speed. If she stalled, she went into a spin. No flyer that I've heard of ever pulled a fully manned and equipped HS-2L out of a spin. Everyone that spun crashed, killing all on board. It had to be constantly "flown" while in the air. It carried a pilot, co-pilot, and in the bomber's seat in the bow a combination observer and radio man. It was tiring to fly: constant pressure had to be maintained on the rudder-bar because of torque of the single propeller. I've come in from many a flight, and, upon landing, my right instep would be so painful it was difficult to walk.

Morehead City ceased operations due to a lack of funding in July 1921 but some records indicate that the Coast Guard kept these four aircraft on hand until 1926.  According to the Record of Movements, however, the Coast Guard deliberately "destroyed" these four aircraft along with two Aeromarine 40 when the service abandoned Morehead City in July 1921.




Coast Guard Air Station Morehead City officers & crew stand in front of one of the station’s HS-2Ls, 27 July 1921.  LCDR William Wishar is the officer standing in the center.