8 May 1929: Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, United States Navy, set a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Altitude when he flew the prototype Wright Aeronautical Doivision XF3W-1 Apache, Bu. No. A7223, to 11,930 meters (39,140 feet) over NAS Anacostia, Washington, D.C.¹ The record was certified by the National Aeronautic Association.
Lieutenant Soucek was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for this achievment.
New Altitude Record Claimed
It is announced in Washington that Lieut. Apollo Soucek, U.S.N., claims to have created a new height record of 40,000 ft. on May 8. In the course of his flight he encountered a temperature of 60 deg. F. below zero. [-51 °C.]
—FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 1064. (No. 20. Vol. XXI.) May 16, 1929, Page 405 at Column 2
Wright Aeronautical Division XF3W-1 Apache, Bureau of Aeronautics serial number A7223 was a prototype for a single-place, single-engine fighter for the U.S. Navy. The single-bay biplane was 22 feet, 1 inch (6.731 meters) long with a wingspan of 27 feet, 4 inches (8.331 meters) and height of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters). It had an empty wight of 1,414 pounds (641 kilograms) and gross weight of 2,128 pounds (965 kilograms). Only one XF3W-1 was built.
The XF3W-1 was designed to use the new air-cooled, supercharged 1,176.036-cubic-inch-displacement (19.272 liters) Wright Aeronautical Division R-1200 Simoon 9-cylinder radial engine, which was rated at 350 horsepower at 1,900 r.p.m. The R-1200 weighed 640 pounds (290 kilograms).
After taking delivery of the prototype, the Navy installed the number two Pratt & Whitney Wasp A R-1300 (R-1340) nine-cylinder radial engine. The XF3W-1 was the first airplane to fly with a Pratt & Whitney Wasp engine, 5 May 1926. The Wasp A had a compression ratio of 5.25:1, and a Normal and Takeoff Power rating of 410 horsepower at 1,900 r.p.m. at Sea Level, burning 58 octane gasoline. This was a direct-drive engine. The Wasp A was 3 feet, 6.63 inches (1.083 meters) long, 4 feet, 3.44 inches (1.307 meters) in diameter, and weighed 745 pounds.
The XF3W-1 was also configured as a float plane. It was used by NACA to test engines and cowlings.
162 m.p.h., 38,560′
Apollo Soucek: d.o.b. 24 February 1894, Lamont, Oklahoma. Son of Johann Grothard Soucek and Ludmila Pishny Soucek
Entered USN 9 June 1917
USNA, Class of 1921
Commissioned Ensign, USN, 3 June 1921
Promoted to Lieutenant, USN, 3 June 1927
Lieutenant Commander, USN, 3 June 1937
Commander, USN, 27 August 1941
Captain (temporary), 20 August 1942
Wife Agnes Eleanor O’Connor 27 May 1930 Washington DC
1937 CO VF-2
1942 XO USS Hornet (CV-8) under Mitscher for Halsey-Doolittle Raid; Silver Star, Battle of Santa Cruz Islands
Rear Admiral 23 July 1944
CO USS Franklin D. Roosevelt (CV-42) 27 Oct 1945
1946 ComCarDiv 14
1947 CO NATC Pax River
1949 Asst CNO Av Plans
1951 Naval Attaché London
1952 ComCarDiv3/ComTF77 USS Boxer (CV-21): Distinguished Service Medal
1953 Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics
retired, RADM 1 July 1955 DSC, SS, LoM, DFC, BSw/V, WW1VM,
died, 19 July 1955
Promoted to Vice Admiral, posthumously
Arlington National Cemetery
¹ FAI Record File Number 8257
© 2017, Bryan R. Swopesby