Friday, May 20, 2011

USA - 1917 Lewis Vought VE-7

Hello and welcome to all the new followers and a heartfelt thanks to Paul and Fran for their all their support. Some have spoken loud and clear for some top views, so I am experimenting with some format changes.

The United States' Aviation Industry Grows

Lewis Vought VE-7 - 1917
Lewis Vought VE-7 - 1917
Lewis Vought VE-7 Upper Wing  Lewis Vought VE-7 Lower Wing
Lewis Vought VE-7 Upper and Lower Wing Paint Scheme

The Vought VE-7 Bluebird was an early biplane of the United States. first flying in 1917, it was designed as a 2-seat trainer for the United States Army, then adopted by the United States Navy as its very first fighter aircraft. In 1922, a VE-7 became the first plane to take off from an American aircraft carrier.

The Lewis & Vought Corporation was formed just months after the US entered World War I, with the intention of servicing war needs. The company's trainer was patterned after successful European designs; for instance, the engine was a Wright Hispano Suiza of the type used by the French SPAD. In practice, the VE-7's performance was much better than usual for a trainer, and comparable to the best fighters, and the Army ordered 1,000 of an improved design called the VE-8. However, the contract was cancelled due to the end of the war.

However, the Navy was very interested in the VE-7, and received a 1st machine in May 1920. Production orders soon followed, in fact beyond what the fledgling Vought organization could handle, and the Naval Aircraft Factory was pressed into service. In all, 128 VE-7s were built.

The fighter version of the VE-7 was designated VE-7S. It was a single-seater, the front cockpit being faired over and a Vickers .30 cal. machine gun mounted over it, on the left side and synchronized to fire through the propeller. Some planes, designated VE-7SF, had flotation gear consisting of inflatable bags stowed away, available to help keep the plane afloat when ditching at sea.

The Bluebird won the 1918 Army competition for advanced training machines.

The VE-8 variant completed in July 1919, had a 340hp Wright-Hispano H engine, reduced overall dimensions, increased wing area, a shorter faired cabane, and 2 Vickers guns. 2 were completed. Flight test results were disappointing, the aircraft was overweight, with heavy controls, inadequate stability and sluggish performance.

The VE-9 variant, 1st delivered to the Navy on 24 June 1922, was essentially an improved VE-7, with most of the improvements in the fuel system area. 4 of the 21 ordered by the U.S. Navy were unarmed observation float seaplanes for battleship catapult use.

The VE-7s equipped the Navy's 1st 2 fighter squadrons VF-1 and VF-2. A VE-7 flown by Lieutenant Virgil C. Griffin made history on 17 October 1922 when it took off from the deck of the newly-commissioned Langley. The VE-7s were the Navy's front line fighters for several years, with 3 still assigned to the Langley in 1927; all were retired the following year.


  1. Vought VE-7. (2010, December 24). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 01:09, January 16, 2011, from
  2. Vought VE-7 Retrieved from
  3. Jones, Lloyd S. U.S. Naval Fighters. (Fallbrook CA: Aero Publishers, 1977, ISBN 0-8168-9254-7)
  4. Taylor, Michael John Haddrick "Janes Fighting Aircraft of World War I Random House Group Ltd. 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SW1V 2SA, 2001. ISBN 1-85170-347-0.
  5. Green, William & Swanborough, Gordon (Editors). The Complete Book of Fighters. Barnes & Noble Books New York, 1998, ISBN 0760709041.


The Angry Lurker said...

If you build it they will come, nice work on that, never knew much about USA aircraft development in WW1.

Start posting on this site with a link to your blog, message boards, general boards and then blogs of war.

Conrad Hawkwood said...


kingsleypark said...

Top Views!! Bonus!!

Well done1 Excellent stuff as always.

W. I. Boucher said...

@Fran, Thanks A mutual friend posted my blog on that site and a few more. I get a lot of radio control site traffic as well as history and gaming sites. Surprisingly a lot of traffic comes from Google images. They seem to index images in an hour or less. If the war had continued, America was geared up and ready for large scale production of the SPAD XIII and the AIRCO de Havilland DH-4 as well as the reliable Liberty Engine.

@kingsleypark: See what you started! Think of it as a happy unbirthday present.