The Wide World of Sea Planes

I have always had an interest in seaplanes, as they are the combination of two separate vehicles I like on their own. There are so many types that have been experimented with, in one form or another, that it would take a lifetime to report on them all. Here are a few noteworthy examples that give some idea to the variety.

The most popular type of recreational seaplane, and the type you see the most frequently today. This one is made by Cessna. It is essentially just a regular Cessna fitted with pontoons. It has wheels in the pontoons so it can roll as well.

cessna seaplane

Of course, there are some much cooler ones, such as this; the Grumman Goose, first being flown in 1947. It is considered a flying boat, because the hull itself is the flotation, not pontoons. It was originally designed as a commuter aircraft for the Long Island/ CT/ NYC area!

grumman goose

Back in 1934, an Italian by the name of Francesco Agello flew his Macchi MC-72 to a world speed record of 440 mph. It used two Fiat engines, both liquid cooled, turning counter to each other, driving a coaxial prop. Each engine made 3000 hp, being fed by turbochargers and 8 carbs.

Macchi MC 72

Of course seaplanes could be great weapons, so military’s around the world did  a lot of experimenting. Some of the more interesting examples are as follows:

The Convair “Sea Dart”, a potential jet fighter, here in 1953.

ConvairSeaDart

Doesn’t look like it would work, does it? Watch this; its long but you get the idea:

Here is something a bit more ambitious. This is a large flying boat developed as a bomber. The strategic advantages of a plane that can land on water are obvious  and an elaborate system of ships and submarines was devised for supplying and refueling. In the cold war era, any way to get a leg up on the enemy was considered. A seaplane that could drop nuclear weapons would have been a great asset…This is the Martin “Seamaster”, shown here in 1955.

SeaMaster

It was jet powered, could fly at just under mach 1, and had a range of 2000 miles, and could carry 30,000 pounds of bombs! This thing was huge.

Still not impressed?  This is a flying boat that uses the “ground effect” to its advantage. The ground effect is the extra lift an aircraft experiences when it is close to landing. Have you ever felt that very smooth, steady feeling when a commercial airliner almost touches down on landing? that’s it. With that in mind, many designers thought that simply staying near the ground was better than flying high. The extra lift provided can maximize the efficiency and therefore increase range.

The Russians made the undisputed heavyweight king, nicknamed the “Caspian Sea Monster”. Apparently funding ran out for this thing, but look at the size of it!

caspain 1

caspian 2

There were several variations of the basic design. Here is one in action. It weighs 5000 tons, is more than 300 feet long- and it can fly!

More to come….

 

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