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Float Planes And Sea Planes


17thfabn

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The heyday of float planes and their bigger cousins the Sea Planes was World War II.

 

During World War II Float Planes in the USN they were mainly carried by cruisers and battleships. Other navies also carried them on battleships and cruisers. The Germans also had them on of some their commerce raiders. And some nations had the few oddball submarine aircraft carriers. And some operated from harbors. If equipped with wheels they could also operate from run ways. From ships they would be launched from catapults.

 

The bigger Sea Planes operated from bases and could take off from runways or the water. The USN and some other navies had Sea Plane Tenders. The Sea Plane Tenders supported Sea Planes, providing them maintenance supplies and fuel.

 

In how heavy seas (sea state) could Sea Planes and Float Planes take off and land in?

 

I have seen accounts of Sea Plane Tenders setting up in atolls to give a sheltered area to launch their seaplanes.

 

I have also seen lots of accounts float planes in the Pacific Theater. Not near as many in the Atlantic.

 

Float Planes would have been handy during the early days of the battle of the Atlantic. In the period before widespread use of escort carriers in the Mid Atlantic air gap.

 

Were the seas too heavy in the Mid Atlantic for these aircraft to operate?

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Well of course we used seaplanes in the battle of the Atlantic. But any aircraft is vulnerable in a heavy sea, even the mighty Sunderland Flying Boat. You couldnt land one of those in a heavy sea without a grave chance of losing it. Ditto smaller aircraft like the Supermarine Walrus, standard floatplane on RN heavy warships.

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I love Blackburn's retractable hull design, as in their experimental B-20 flying boat and never-to-be B.44 seaplane fighter. In a "what if Atlantis was real" alternate history, I developed a whole line of fighters based on this technology for the 20th century Atlantic Navy, up into the jet age, operated off aircraft cruisers in lieu of VTOL aircraft.

 

 

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And then there was the XF2Y-1 Sea Dart.

(Some day, I am going to have to learn how to post images here. The ones I try to add as attachments are too large in size, or, if reduced in size, no longer discernible.)

 

--

Leo

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This may help, especially the sea state page.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/seaplane_handbook/media/faa-h-8083-23-2.pdf

 

I would think geography would limit flying boat use in the Atlantic. Most areas of the Atlantic can be covered by land planes involving the Canada/U.S. trade routes to Great Britain. The most dramatic Atlantic flying boat use I can remember is the PBY that sighted the KMS Bismark. I think that plane originated from a British land base.

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This is quite a fun design. Amazingly one of them still survives at Duxford.

http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v1/v1n3/saro.html

 

As a child was one of the aircraft i liked more.

 

 

 

 

This is quite a fun design. Amazingly one of them still survives at Duxford.

http://worldatwar.net/chandelle/v1/v1n3/saro.html

 

As a child was one of the aircraft i liked more.

 

Its a pity it never found a role, it looked fun.

 

 

This may help, especially the sea state page.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/seaplane_handbook/media/faa-h-8083-23-2.pdf

 

I would think geography would limit flying boat use in the Atlantic. Most areas of the Atlantic can be covered by land planes involving the Canada/U.S. trade routes to Great Britain. The most dramatic Atlantic flying boat use I can remember is the PBY that sighted the KMS Bismark. I think that plane originated from a British land base.

 

 

This may help, especially the sea state page.

https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/handbooks_manuals/aviation/seaplane_handbook/media/faa-h-8083-23-2.pdf

 

I would think geography would limit flying boat use in the Atlantic. Most areas of the Atlantic can be covered by land planes involving the Canada/U.S. trade routes to Great Britain. The most dramatic Atlantic flying boat use I can remember is the PBY that sighted the KMS Bismark. I think that plane originated from a British land base.

Many of the RAF seaplane stations actually operated out of Inland lakes and Loch's, due to their having a better sea state. For example, the sole surviving (known) Mk1 sunderland sank at its moorings in a gale at Pembroke dock in 1940.

https://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/240239/details/short-sunderland-i-t9044

 

There was also at least one base in Northern Ireland used, Lough Erne. Some of the Catalina's are reportedly still there, no idea what kind of state.

https://www.seawings.co.uk/Bases&PlacesGal-Castle%20Archdale.htm

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And then there was the XF2Y-1 Sea Dart.

(Some day, I am going to have to learn how to post images here. The ones I try to add as attachments are too large in size, or, if reduced in size, no longer discernible.)

 

--

Leo

 

Load photos and other images onto an image hoster of your choice or your own webserver. Then put the URL to the file into tags.

Edited by Panzermann
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I recently bought a book that was a reprint of the official history of the RAF units demilitarizing the Luftwaffe. There was an interesting photo showing a huge boat lift, supposedly for lifting Luftwaffe floatplanes out the water. Think it was somewhere in the Frisian islands, and it amazed me it hadnt been bombed to buggery already.

 

Of course, the RAF and USN found it much easier to just put wheels on a flying boat and winch it up a slipway. Those crazy Germans. :)

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The Atlantic was smaller than the Pacific Ocean. The Atlantic was surrounded by land that had airfields. Indeed, most of its islands had also airfields.

 

Most flying distances between islands and land masses in the Pacific were much longer, so short-range aircraft were impractical even though they only need inexpensive, cleared, relatively flat runways. As even then, building one of these unhardened land airfields was a major undertaking, whereas sea planes could be made operational by placing a few buildings (or tents, for that matter), on the waterfront in a matter of days.

 

There were very few long-range aircraft before WWII, and these were large and heavy, needing the more expensive, improved runways. Frankly, most just did not have the range to fly from land to land airport. So, flying boats had to be used. (PanAm even built hotels at their intermediate landing points.)

 

After the USN and USA got involved in WWII, and practically constructed an airfield on any atoll or island large enough that could fit a hardened, if not paved, airfield [1], the need for water-based aircraft was greatly reduced. Finally, land-based aircraft achieved far greater ranges than before WWII, obliviating the need for intermediate, inexpensive, water-based landing places.

 

The Japanese still use flying boats for SAR work. And China also has several in operation.

 

[1] OK, OK, slight exaggeration. ;)

 

--

Leo

(who loves flying boats)

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The Excile Norwegian Aitforce also used a squadron of Northrop N-3PB floatplanes from bases in Iceland from 1941. The planes had originally been ordered by the Norwegian Government, but had not been delivered before the German occupation in April 1940.

As I understand they gave sterling service in the early battle of the Atlantic, but were replaced by larger and longer ranged aircraft rom 1943 (Catalinas I suppose).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_N-3PB

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Of course, the RAF and USN found it much easier to just put wheels on a flying boat and winch it up a slipway.

 

In the case of the RAAF they converted a lot of Catalina's from ampbians to pure flying boats - less empty weight, more fuel

 

Double sunrise Perth to Ceylon (that was Qantas civilian)- Darwin to the Philipines and return - For Darwin China coast they needed fuel to get back and some drunken stories about those missions

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The Excile Norwegian Aitforce also used a squadron of Northrop N-3PB floatplanes from bases in Iceland from 1941. The planes had originally been ordered by the Norwegian Government, but had not been delivered before the German occupation in April 1940.

As I understand they gave sterling service in the early battle of the Atlantic, but were replaced by larger and longer ranged aircraft rom 1943 (Catalinas I suppose).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northrop_N-3PB

 

There was a feature about one of them being recovered in an After the Battle I read about 3 decades ago. It had a bad landing accident and sank, and turned out to be the sole surviving one in the world. Northrop rebuilt it, and it now looks like this. A very handsome aircraft IMHO.

800px-N-3PB_FFS.jpg

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Of course, the RAF and USN found it much easier to just put wheels on a flying boat and winch it up a slipway.

 

In the case of the RAAF they converted a lot of Catalina's from ampbians to pure flying boats - less empty weight, more fuel

 

Double sunrise Perth to Ceylon (that was Qantas civilian)- Darwin to the Philipines and return - For Darwin China coast they needed fuel to get back and some drunken stories about those missions

 

If you search 'aircraft archaeology' you will find an interesting lecture on Youtube about archaeology efforts in Darwin on the flying boats that were lost there during the Japanese attack. Really interesting.

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As far as ship-board floatplanes, the challenging N. Atlantic weather would indeed be a problem, both for ops and wear on the planes themselves. Since ships could only carry 3-4 max,continual coverage and necessary maintenance was probably an impractical burden. Throw in the vulnerability of the parent ship when recovering the plane, and the risks seemed too great.

Also, the capital warships were just too scarce to commit to mid-ocean ASW.

----

On a modern note, the USN employed P-5 Marlin flying boats into the mid-'60s.

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We were using Sunderland Flying Boats until 1969 apparently (New Zealand used them till 1967 if Wiki is to be believed).

 

The most unusual role for them was carrying freight during the Berlin Airlift, alighting on Lake Havel. They undertook that till the lake froze over.

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