- Delivered: August 27, 1941
- Aug 1941 – 108th Observation Sqd, Chicago, AP IL
- Oct 1941 – Observer Training School Brooks AAF, TX
- Oct 1943 – 99th Sub Depot Sioux Falls AAF, SD.
- Aug 1944 – Cimmaron Field, OK to dispose as surplus
- Stricken: August 1944
The Curtiss Model 85 was the last heavy observation type to be purchased by the Army at $50,826.00 in 1939. The Owl was used for record-setting map and survey flights.
Inward folding doors in the observers cockpit provided for twin camera ports. A retractable turtle back, created for the SOC Seagull, was used to provide a maximum field of fire for the observers .30 cal machine gun.
The O-birds quickly fell from favor as they were an easy target and their duties were passed on to faster, more heavily armed fighter-bombers.
While in Brooks, Texas on January 10, 1942, it is of record that 2nd Lt. George Sloan ground looped while taxiing and severely damaged this aircraft. Pilots today agree that this aircraft must be constantly flown and landings require expert reactions.
Acquired by Yanks from the Experimental Aircraft Association and restored, this is the only airworthy Owl in existence.