USA: Warplanes of the Second World War preserved: Curtiss O-52 Owl

USAAC Observation aircraft

The aim of this website is to locate, identify and document Warplanes from the Second World War preserved in the USA.  Many contributors have assisted in the hunt for these aircraft to provide and update the data on this website.  Photos are as credited.  Any errors found here are by the author, and any additions, corrections or amendments to this list of Warplane Survivors of the Second World War in the United States of America would be most welcome and may be e-mailed to the author at

Curtiss O-52 Owl

(USAAC Photo)

The Curtiss O-52 Owl was an observation aircraft used by the United States Army Air Corps before and during World War II. They were used for anti-submarine searches in Americas and by lend-lease also used on the Eastern Front in Europe by the Soviets. Developed in 1939, the Curtiss O-52 was the last "heavy" observation aircraft developed for the US Army Air Corps. The concept of the two-seat observation aircraft, classed as the "O" series aircraft, dated to World War I, and in 1940, the Army Air Corps ordered 203 Curtiss O-52s for observation duties.Curtis designed it the Curtiss Model 85, and it was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine.

Upon delivery, the aircraft was used in military maneuvers with the USAAC, but following America's entry into World War II, the USAAF determined that the aircraft did not possess sufficient performance for "modern" combat operations in overseas areas. As a result, the O-52 was relegated to courier duties within the U.S. and short-range submarine patrol over the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

O-52 were used by the 2nd Reconnaissance Squadron, which flew them out of Puerto Rico and Trinidad, to search for Nazi U Boats.[2]The O-52 was the last "O" type aircraft procured in quantity for the Air Corps. Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, the "O" designation was discontinued and the "L" series for liaison-type aircraft was adopted instead. (Wikipedia)

(USAAC Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl.

In November 1942, the USSR ordered 30 O-52 Owls through the Lend-Lease program. Twenty-six were shipped, with only 19 delivered as a number were lost on the North Arctic Route.[3] Of these only ten were accepted into service. They were used operationally for artillery fire spotting and general photographic and observation platforms in north and central areas on the Russian Front during spring–summer 1943. One O-52 was shot down by Luftwaffe fighters. In the report on military tests, the Soviet pilots recognized that the American machine was superior to the outdated Polikarpov R-5, and Polikarpov R-Z spotters used at the front. The aircraft was generally disliked in Soviet use although some were still flying into the 1950s. (Wikipedia)

(USAAC Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl.

(SDASM Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl.

(NMUSAF Photos)

(ZLEA Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl (Serial No. 40-2763).  National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio.

(先従隗始 Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl (Serial No. 40-2769), Yanks Air Museum, Chino, California.

( Photo)

Curtiss O-52 Owl (Serial No. 40-2746), Pima Air & Space Museum, Tucson, Arizona.

If you found this valuable, consider supporting the author.
Other articles in category