Stearman M-2

Stearman M-2  1929
Varney Air Line M2. Note: Tailwheel, a new feature for Stearman, replacing the skid. Landing lights built into upper wing.

The M2 was a big single seat mail and express biplane that used the same type of construction as the C2 and C3. It looked like an enlarged C-3MB. The first flight was on January 15, 1929.

It used the thick German Gottingen 398 airfoil that allowed wood truss rib construction, and reverted to the Model C-1 aileron control system. It also had a steerable tail wheel. A new stabilizer trim system was designed with a worm drive at the bottom rear of the fuselage that moved struts, moving the horizontal stabilizer up and down for trim.

Mail and other cargo was carried in two separate compartments totalling 90 cubic feet which were located ahead of the pilot. The engine was the 525 hp Wright R-1820 "Cyclone" with a front exhaust collector ring as used on the J-6 engines.

Last of 7 M-2's, C-8827, s/n 1007, was the M-2 Special with a Pratt & Whitney "Hornet" engine. It was a 2 place and sold to Cliff Durant.

The only airline customer for the M-2 "Speedmail" was Varney Air Lines. It was nicknamed "Bull Stearman" because of its size and power. It's upper wingspan measured 46 feet. Varney bought six; five as mailplanes and one, with a two passenger front cockpit which replaced the mail compartment as a personal craft. The seventh M-2, known as the M-2 "Special," was a two-cockpit model with a 525 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1690 "Hornet" that was sold to Cliff Durant.

Alan Lopez, writes, "It is said that Durant had an additional fuel tank installed in the fuselage with a 130 gal capacity. Why? We don't know for sure, but probably not for long cross-country flight. Cliff had built a pretentious home in Roscommon, Michigan, known locally as 'The Castle.' It had two airstrips and was not far from Canada. During this era of prohibition, Durant was known for giving some of the best parties anywhere. This extra fuselage tank in his Stearman could hold 130 gallons - or 650 fifths."   :-)

M2 on skis
After Varney sold NC9054 it went to Alaska where it was operated on skiis and used to ferry supplies to some of the mining operatons.

M-2 One of five for Varney Air Lines. They were equipped with a mail pit designed to carry a 1,000lb payload. Officially called Speedmails, their nickname is "Bull Stearman."

Deed Levy - Test Pilot Stearman Aircraft Company
Deed Levy, Chief Test Pilot for Stearman Aircraft
following a test flight of a Varney Airlines Stearman M-2

Text and images from: Wings of Stearman by Peter M. Bowers. Available at [] Published by Flying Books International, 1401 Kingswood Road, Eagan, Mn 55122