U.S. Air Service




Curtis JN-4
"The Jenny"

Development and Operation

By 1911 the Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps was becoming increasingly concerned over the number of accidents which were occurring with the push-type design aircraft. In response to this concern, and having little design experience with the design of tractor aircraft, the Curtiss Company hired Mr. B. Douglas Thomas who had design experience with both Avro and Sopwith in England.

The Curtiss Company then began a series of designs designated as J and N. These original designs incorporated the Curtiss control system wherein a fore and aft motion of the Control Column operated the elevators, a wheel worked the rudder, and a shoulder yoke operated the ailerons. After a few years of working on the J and N designs the best attributes of each design were incorporated into a new design—the JN. The JN-3 version of this design replaced the original Curtiss controls with the Deperdussin control system in which the wheel operated the ailerons and the rudder was operated by a rudder bar. This design was sold both to the RNAS and the RFC as a trainer. JN-3's built in Canada for training purposes in Canada replaced the Deperdussin controls with a stick control and ailerons were placed on both upper and lower wings. This configuration became known as the JN-4C ("Canuck").

Many American citizens either training in Canada as part of a RFC program, or training in Canada as part of agreement between the Canadian and American Governments to train pilots, used the JN-4C as a basic trainer. In June 1917 the American Curtiss Company completed the design of its JN-4D. This model replaced the Deperdussin controls with the stick controls, eliminated the ailerons on the lower wings, and had rounded lower wing tips. The aircraft was powered by the 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 engine. Some 2664 JN-4D's were built. This is the version that is referred to when reference is made to the "Jenny".

The JN-4D was purchased by both the Army and the Navy to be used as basic trainers. The Marines purchased the JN-4H (a JN-4 powered by a 150 hp Hispano-Suiza engine). The Marines at their training school at Miami used these aircraft. While the JN-4D was used solely as a trainer it is noted that some 68 American pilots who achieved five or more victories received training on the JN-4D


Aircraft and Flight Characteristics

Wing Span

43 ft. 7 1/8 inches


27 ft. 4 inches


9 ft. 10 5/8 inches

Power Plant

OX-5, rated at 90 hp
   at 1400 rpm

Empty Weight

1390 lbs.

Gross Weight

1920 lbs.

Maximum Speed

75 mph

Minimum Speed

45 mph


7.5 minutes to
   2000 ft.

Service Ceiling

6,500 ft.

Endurance at full throttle

2 hrs. and
   18 minutes


1. Bowers, Peter, Profile Publication No. 37, Curtiss JN-4
2. Lincke, Jack R., Jenny was no Lady
3. Bowers, Peter, Curtiss Aircraft 1904-1947
4. Photo from the USAF Museum, Wright-Patterson, AFB, Ohio

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