Born of a pilot's love for a powered glider and a company's desire to capture the light aircraft market, the CW-1 Junior made its first flight in December 1930. A unique design for a production airplane even during the quirky 1930s, its pusher engine, forward seating for pilot and passenger and high wing gave the Junior an unmistakable silhouette. The Junior essentially was an earlier Curtiss-Robinson prototype, the CR-1 Skeeter, with several important changes to adapt the concept to the production line. The target price for the Junior was $1,500 which the engineers kept by rolling it out in 1931 for $1,490.
The original Skeeter was inspired by the configuration of a powered glider, the Snyder MG-1 Buzzard, that Curtiss test pilot Lloyd Child owned. The company acquired the production rights to the Buzzard, but changed the plane to a two seater with a steel tube fuselage rather than wood. The shortcuts taken in making the prototype Skeeter were ironed out by C-W engineer Karl White, notably the replacement of the expensive British ABC Scorpion engine with an American 45-horsepower Szekely SR-3. Later models replaced the oil-throwing Szekely with a 40-hp Augustine rotary engine (CW-1A) and with a 40-hp French Salmson 9-cylinder radial (CW-1S). An amphibian model, the CW-3 Duckling (also known as the Teal) was built with a stronger structure and a 60-hp Velie and later 90-hp Warner engine.
Unfortunately the Junior proved the last attempt by Curtiss-Wright to sell light planes. Although many Juniors survived into the 1950s, many changing to flat-four cylinder engines like the Lycoming O-145, the unusual configuration and the Depression-era market doomed production.