No. 13186. Thomas-Morse MB-3A (68237 c/n 210) US Army Air Service
Aeroplane Photo Supply (APS) Photo No. 1148

Thomas-Morse MB-3A

08/31/2017. Remarks by Johan Visschedijk: "Designed by William T. Thomas, the single-seat MB-3 was heavily influenced by the French SPAD designs, and four prototypes (serialed 40092 to 40095) were ordered in 1918. First flown on February 21, 1919, the type had its teething problems, but by June 1920 the USAAS was sufficiently impressed and ordered fifty MB-3s (serialed 63331 to 63380).

Under the USAAS procurement system in effect right after WW I, Boeing was the low bidder on a production contract for 200 improved MB-3As (serialed 68237 to 68436, c/n 210 to 409). The MB-3A was a conventional wood and wire fabric-covered biplane powered with the 300 hp Wright Model H engine, an Americanized French Hispano-Suiza. General structural and aerodynamic configuration was heavily influenced by the French SPAD fighters of 1916-1918. MB-3A construction began early in 1921 and the first flew on June 7, 1922, final delivery was made on December 27, 1922. Some were fitted with two-blade propellers and others with four-blade, but the last fifty aircraft were fitted with entirely new tail surfaces of Boeing design. One model was built with special wings using four ailerons.

The Thomas-Morse models had the radiator in the center section of the upper wing; however, side radiators proved to be more efficient and the Boeing-built MB-3As were fitted with radiators on each fuselage side. The side radiators were built by Thomas-Morse.

After a period of service as first-line fighters, many of the MB-3As were rebuilt by Fairfield Air lntermediate Depot (F.A.L.D.) and sent to Kelly Field, Texas, where they were used as advanced trainers as late as 1927. Several, destined for the junk pile, were used as German fighters for crash scenes in the air-war film 'Wings', most of the flying sequences being taken near Kelly Field with USAAS co-operation."

Created August 31, 2017