HISTORIC AIRPLANES: Jenny
The Curtiss manufactured JN-4H aircraft was nicknamed the "Jenny." This single engine biplane was used during World War I by the U.S. Army Air Service. Army pilots easily joked that the airplane was "a bunch of parts flying in formation," and that "if you can fly a Jenny, you can fly anything!"
These airplanes were designed by B. Douglas Thomas.
The Post Office Department began using them on May 15, 1918,
when the first scheduled airmail service was instituted.
Jennies were flown between Washington, D.C., Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania, and New York, New York. Army pilots flew the
airplanes for the first two months of the service, until the
postal service was able to hire its own pilots.
The Jenny's top speed was about 80 mph, with
a range of about 175 miles and a ceiling of about 11,000
feet. The airplane's wingspan was 43 ft., 7 inches, and the
airplane weighed just over a ton. Before the airplanes were taken
by the postal service, their 90-horsepower engines were
replaced with 150 horsepower Hispano-Suiza engines. The
Jenny could carry a little less than 300 pounds of mail
per trip. The front seat was left out of the redesigned
airplanes, in order to carry mail bags. The airplanes' gas capacity
was doubled when a set of gas tanks were hooked together
so the airplane could fly farther.
Sometimes a liability can also be an asset.
When airmail pilot Ernest Allison was asked his opinion
of the airplane, he said that he considered it safe because
the airplane's "carburetor would vibrate the airplane so
badly that it would shake the ice off the wings."
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