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Curtiss-Reid Rambler: aircraft description

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The Curtiss-Reid Aircraft Co Ltd was formed in december 1928 when the New Yrk based Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company took a controlling interest in the Reid Aircraft COmpany of Montreal. The Canadian company had itself only been set up in February of that year by former Canadian Vickers designers Wilfrid T Reid and MJ Berlyn. Together, they designed a two-seat sesquiplane as a club trainer, private tourer and light transport aircraft. This aircraft first flew at Cartierville, Montreal on 23rd September 1928 piloted by Martin Berlyn and was named the Reid Rambler at a demonstration ceremony on 29th September.

The Rambler's Fuselage was a rectangular structure of welded steel tube, fabric covered, as was the tailplane which consisted of a one-piece horizontal unit and a balanced rudder with no fixed fin. Tandem open cockpits with full dual control were to be standard. The wings, which folded for storage, consisted of duralumin spars and ribs, fabric covered , with the top wing supported above the fuselage on Steel tube struts. The interplane struts, also of steel tube, were circular in section on the prototype but streamlined on production Ramblers, forming a V when viewed from the front. Simplicity was achieved in design by making each side of the undercarriage interchangeable and by making the wing spars of dural tubing which was simply cut to lenght and slightly flattened at the outer ends 

Trimming was accomplished by means of a spring in the control system. This was engaged by a lever on the left side of the cockpit which was usually referred to as the "Cheese cutter".

A 20 gallon (90 litres) fuel tank was fitted in the centre section of the top wing. Sharply angled, almost triangular, ailerons were fitted to the top wing only.

The undercarriage consisted of a pait of interchangable V-strut units with rubber shock absorbers. On the prototype a braking system linked to rudder application was designed to help ground handling but this was not used on production aircraft. A tailskid was fitted as standard and ski or float undercarriages were available as options.

Power was provided initially by an 80HP ADC Cirrus Mk.II 4-Cyl in-line engine, fully cowled, with metal propeller and spinner and with a short downward aligned stub exhaust.


The protoype, said to be c/n 1000 in some sources  was G-CAVO and was registered to Reid Aircraft co, Montreal on 29.9.28. The aircraft was used for development but was cancelled on 12.12.29 and dismantled, the fuselage being used in the construction of the Elton Monoplane CF-BPB.

Development difficulties

While the initial flight was described as very satisfactory, the Rambler became involved in its full share of developmental difficulties. These involved its lateral control, directional stability, undercarriage shock absorbing system, and engine cooling and took the better part of a year before being resolved. The first of the production aircraft, CF-AAV was used as experimental aircraft on which a number of modifications were tried to overcome its initial difficulties. The most obvious was substitution of a fin an rudder for the original balanced rudder. CF-AAV at one time was fitted with each f the three varieties of fins and rudders while the first two RCAF aircraft after being supplied with the original balanced rudder, were later fitted with the second and third types of fins and rudders. 
The original  "Skew" or inversely tapered ailerons were found to be inadequate and a Frise aileron was designed by Martin Berlyn. These new ailerons were also added by odification to the early production aircraft as was done in the case of the fin. Therefore, many of the early aircraft seen originally with the skew type aileron may be later seem fitted with the Frise Aileron.

The springing of the undercarriage was originally too stiff and a softer grade of rubber had to be used in the undercarriage shock absorbers and at the same time a leaf spring tail skid installed. The aircraft was found to be tail heavy , which necessitated moving the engine forward slightly. 


Rambler I production made use of an 85-100 hp Gipsy I engine giving a maximum speed of 102mph (163.2 km/h) and a cruise of 90 mph (144km/h). Stalling speed was 38 mph (60.8 km/h). One exemplar used a US built Wright Gipsy with clockwise rotation, it was registered NC661W. A long port side exhaust was fitted on the Rambler I and the tailplane was odified with a fixed fin and rounded rudder. A streamlined headrest was fitted behind the cockpit and Goodyear doughnut wheels could also be selected. Two examples, CF-ABV and -ABX were fitted with Handley Page Slots as was the RCAF's C-CYCX and possibly others.

Rambler II actually went into production in 1929 before the Rambler I and the first example, CF-AAU was given the c/n 1000 (same as the G-CAVO). Now known as the Rambler II, this model was available with either ADC Cirrus II (80HP), Cirrus III (95HP), or Cirrus Hermes (115HP) engines. In many ways the Mk. II ressembled the prototype, with balanced rudder, short exhaust and triangular ailerons. At least one, CF-ABP was fitted with independtly mounted Curtiss-Reid Floats . The Cirrus III version was indetified by a modified cowling which created the impression oa double intake above the propeller. 

Rambler III, a more substancial redesign produced in 1931 was fitted with a 120hp DH Gipsy III inverted in-line engine. The front fuselage was lowered and lenghtened, the undercarriage moved forward to compensate, and the fin and rudder were enlarged and rounded in shape. Apart for the increase in lenght to 24ft (7.31m), the dimensions were the same as the Mk.I  The prototype Rambler III was CF-ABZ cn/1020 which flew in early 1931. This aircraft was used in attempt on the Canadian altitude record on 26.5.31 and is thought to have reached 22000ft (6705m) but the barograph froze and the record could not be confirmed. Another example CF-ALL c/n 1031 was flown in the summer of 1931 as a high wing monoplane and reconverted to biplane as a seaplane with Edo floats, in which form it was exported t Hong Kong. 


Specifications and performances


  Mk.I MkII Mk.III
Engine DH Gipsy I
Cirrus II/III/Hermes

DH Gipsy III
Span, upper----------- 33ft = =
Chord, upper---------- 5 ft 6 in. = =
Span, lower----------- 22 ft 5 in = =
Chord, lower---------- 3 ft 9 in. = =
Lenght----------------- 23 ft. 0.5 in = 24 ft 
Height------------------ 8 ft. = =
Gap-------------------- 4ft 8 in. = =
Incidence-------------- = =
Dihedral, upper------- = =
Dihedral, lower-------- = =
Wing Section---------- RAF 15 = =
Wings------------------ 238 sq. ft. = =
Stabilizer-------------- 15,2 sq. ft = =
Elevator---------------- 10,2 sq. ft = =
Rudder----------------- 7.1 sq. ft = =
Fin---------------------- 3 sq. ft = =
Empty------------------ 1000 lb.   1045 lb.
Gross------------------- 1650 lb.   1650 lb.
Useful load------------- 650 lb.   615 lb.
Fuel & Oil-------------- 165 lb.   165 lb.
Max Speed SL---------- 102 mph 112 mph  
Max Speed 5000ft------ 97 mph    
Cruise Speed----------- 90 mph 95 mph  
Stalling Speed---------- 38 mph 40 mph  
Landing Speed----------      
Endurance--------------- 3 hr    
Range-------------------- 315 miles 332 miles 350 miles
Initial Rate of climb----- 750 fpm 850 fpm 1060 fpm
Service ceiling---------- 12000 ft 13000 ft 14000ft
Absolute ceiling--------- 14000 ft    


Propellor: D.H. Laminated wood covered with brass leading edge. Pathfinder compass, Consolidated tachometer, Altimeter, Airspeed, Oil pressure Gauge and Tool kit

Power Plant (Gipsy I engine): Direct drive, Gas consumption, 5 3.4 gallon per hour. Oil consuption .75 pints per hour. Left hand tractor. Bore 4 1/2 stroke 5 1-6 in. Dual magneto ignition (BTH), Zenith carburettor. 

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