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The Three Sea Hawks

The Three Sea Hawks, a 1920s Navy exhibition team formed by Lieutenant Daniel Tomlinson and Lieutenants (junior grade) William V. Davis and A.P. Storrs pose with an aviation enthusiast, 1929-1930.

Three U.S. Navy Boeing F2B-1s flying in stacked formation. The aircraft were probably with “Three Sea Hawks” Aerobatic Team. The Boeing F2B was a carrier-based biplane fighter of the United States Navy of the 1920s, familiar to aviation fans of the era as the craft of the “Three Sea Hawks” aerobatic flying team, famous for its tied-together formation. The first flight of the F2B prototype was on 3 November 1926.

The U.S. Navy acquired the prototype as XF2B-1, which was capable of reaching speeds of 248 km/h. Delivery began on 20 January 1928, with some assigned to Fighting Squadron VF-1B and others to Bombing Squadron VB-2B, both operating from the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3). In 1927, Lt. D.W. “Tommy” Tomlinson, CO of VB-2B, created the first U.S. Naval aerobatic team.

The first public performance as an official team representing the Navy

The Three Sea Hawks Fly Over San Diego

was between 8 and 16 September 1928 during the National Air Races week at Mines Field (now Los Angeles International Airport). The Boeing F2B-1 was unable to fly inverted without the engine quitting; consequently, Lt. Tomlinson modified the carburetors to permit brief inverted flight. At the end of 1929, the “Three Sea Hawks” team was disbanded when its VB-2B pilots were reassigned.

F2B-1 aircraft flown by “The Three Sea Hawks,” an unofficial aerobatic team consisting of Fighting Squadron (VF) 1B pilots Lieutenant Daniel Tomlinson and Lieutenants (junior grade) A.P. Storrs and W.V. Davis pictured in flight over San Diego. The years between the world wars marked a golden era in aviation, flight demonstrations, record flights, and air races capturing the public’s imagination.

Sources: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boeing_F2Bs_in_flight_circa_in_1929.jpeg; http://collections.naval.aviation.museum