Images of various Artifacts of the Month's

April 2020

Artifact of the Month

Ground Effects Machine (GEM)

The Curtiss-Wright Corporation developed the Model 2500 Air Car in November 1959 with the hope that a hovercraft would be accepted by the public as an alternative to the traditional family car. The hovercraft concept never caught on for general use, but the usefulness of the Model 2500 was not lost on the Army.

In the early 1960s, the Army Transportation Research Command purchased two Curtiss-Wright Model 2500 Air Cars for the purpose of engineering and operational evaluation as part of an ongoing investigation into the military’s potential of air cushioned vehicles. The Model 2500 was given the new acronym GEM, Ground Effects Machine.

The GEM was a 360-hp, four-passenger vehicle, which traveled at speeds of 20-38 mph at heights of 10-12 inches in the air. Although testing showed that the car was capable of moving over water and flat ground, it never fully succeeded over rough terrain. Even though the GEM never reached its full potential it did provide valuable data and material for the continued research and development of hovercraft technology. This Curtis-Wright GEM was one of the two purchased by the US Army and tested here at Fort Eustis.