National Postal Museum logo
Top Image
Pilot StoriesHistoric PlanesAirmail Creates an IndustryObject ShowcaseHistory TimelineActivity ZoneFlight School
The Early Airplanes
The Postal Airplanes
>> Jenny (JN-4H)
>> de Havilland Workhorse of the Postal Service
Commercial Aircraft
Unusual and Experimental


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."

Click here to go back to the short summary of Jenny.

Helping a Jenny off of the runway  
  Jenny interior shows seat and stick
Click on the photos to view a larger image.

(top left) Helping a Jenny off of the runway

(bottom right) Jenny interior shows seat and stick
View Our Collection
Postal Museum | Smithsonian | Privacy | Terms of Use | Site MapBottom Navigation
Top of page link to homepage