Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Seaplane, Part II

December 26th, 2023

Authors: Relly Victoria Virgil Petrescu and Florian Ion Tiberiu Petrescu

mediaimage
The Grumman G-21 Goose amphibious aircraft was designed as an eight-seat “commuter” plane for businessmen in the Long Island area. The Goose was Grumman’s first monoplane to fly, its first twin-engined aircraft, and its first aircraft to enter commercial airline service. During World War II, the Goose became an effective transport for the US military (including the Coast Guard), as well as serving with many other air forces. During hostilities, the Goose took on an increasing number of combat and training roles. The adaptable transport continued in postwar use.

In 1936, a group of wealthy residents of Long Island, including E. Roland Harriman, approached Grumman and commissioned an aircraft that they could use to fly to New York City. In response the Grumman Model G-21 was designed as a light amphibian transport. The typical Grumman rugged construction was matched to an all-metal, high-winged monoplane powered by two 450 horsepower (340 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp Jr. nine-cylinder, air-cooled radial engines mounted on the leading edge of high-set wings. The deep fuselage served also as a hull and was equipped with hand-cranked retractable landing gear. First flight of the prototype took place on May 29, 1937.

The fuselage also proved versatile as it provided generous interior space that allowed fitting for either a transport or luxury airliner role. Having an amphibious configuration also allowed the G-21 to go just about anywhere, and plans were made to market it as an amphibian airliner. Some had a hatch in the nose, which could remain open in flight.

The Supermarine Sea Eagle was a British, passenger–carrying, amphibious flying boat. It was designed and built by the Supermarine Aviation Works for its subsidiary, the British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd, to be used on their cross-channel route between Southampton, the Channel Islands and France.

Three aircraft were constructed, G-EBFK, G-EBGR and G-EBGS and the regular service between Southampton and Guernsey began on 25 September 1923 (the planned service to France was never implemented). This was the world’s first scheduled passenger air service by flying boat. However, G-EBFK crashed on 21 May 1924; in January 1927, G-EBGS was lost when it was rammed by a ship in the harbor of St Peter Port, Guernsey. The third aircraft continued on the route until 1928 when it was replaced by a Short S.8 Calcutta.

The wooden hull of the surviving Sea Eagle, G-EBGR, was retained by Vickers until 1949, when they presented it to the British Overseas Airways Corporation; BOAC burnt it in 1954 because of a lack of storage space.

The Vickers Viking was a British single-engine amphibious aircraft designed for military use shortly after the World War I. Later versions of the aircraft were known as the Vickers Vulture and Vickers Vanellus.

Research on Vickers’ first amphibious aircraft type began in December 1918 with tests of alternative fuselage/hull designs occurring in an experimental tank at St Albans in Hertfordshire, England. A prototype, registered G-EAOV, was a five-seat cabin biplane with a pusher propeller driven by a Rolls-Royce Falcon water-cooled V 12 engine. Sir John Alcock died taking this aircraft to the Paris exhibition on 18 December 1919, whilst trying to land at Côte d’Evrard, near Rouen, Normandy in foggy weather.

The next example, G-EASC, known as the Viking II, had a greater wing span and a 360 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII motor. The Viking III machine, piloted by Captain Cockerell, won first prize in the amphibian class in Air Ministry competitions held in September and October, 1920.

The Type 54 Viking IV incorporated further refinements and had a wider cabin above a hull one foot wider, an example being G-EBBZ in which Ross Smith and J.M. Bennett (partners in the 1919 England to Australia flight) died on 13 April 1922 just outside the Brooklands racetrack near Weybridge in Surrey. Most of these Mark IV Vikings had a Napier Lion engine.

The next version was the Viking V, two were built for the RAF for service in Iraq.

The last Viking amphibians were built during 1923, but the name was re-used for the twin-engine VC.1 Viking airliner some 22 years later, which saw service as the Valetta with the RAF and other air arms. Some Viking amphibians were built by Canadian Vickers Limited, a subsidiary company in Montreal with no previous plane making experience.

A further development with a redesigned wing structure using the 450 hp (340 kW) Napier Lion would have been the Viking VI (Vickers designation Type 78) but known as the Vulture I. A second with a Rolls-Royce Eagle IX (360 hp, 270 kW) was the Type 95 Vulture II. Both Vultures were used for an unsuccessful around the world attempt in 1924 after the Eagle engine of the Vulture II was replaced with a Lion. With registration G-EBHO, the first set off from Calshot Seaplane Base on 25 March 1924, the other was shipped as a spare machine to Tokyo. After mechanical difficulties in earlier staged G-EBHO crashed at Akyab where it was replaced by G-EBGO on 25 June. Encountering heavy fog on the Siberian side of the Bering Sea G-ENGO crashed. Vickers salvaged a large proportion.

The Viking Mark VII (“Type 83″ in Vickers numbering) was a development of the Vulture, a three-seat open-cockpit fleet spotter to Air Ministry specification 46/22 given the service name Vanellus when taken on for evaluation by the RAF against the Supermarine Seagull design.

The Canadian Vickers Vedette was the first aircraft in Canada designed and built to meet a specification for Canadian conditions. It was a single-engine biplane flying boat purchased to meet a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) demand for a smaller aircraft than the Vickers Viking with a much greater rate of climb, to be suitable for forestry survey and fire protection work. The type went on to have a long and distinguished career in civil operations in Canada. Most of the topographical maps in use in Canada today are based on photos taken from one of these aircraft.

Based on a preliminary design in early 1924 for a “flying boat” by R.K.Pierson of the home company, Vickers (UK), the Canadian Vickers Vedette was a two/three-seat single-engine pusher aircraft. The design was passed over to the Canadian Vickers Limited of Longueuil, Quebec (formed in 1911) where Wilfrid Thomas Reid served as Chief Engineer.

The prototype Vedette I was first flown on 4 November 1924, powered by a 200 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon III. It was subsequently fitted with 210 hp Wolseley Viper, 200 hp Wright J-4 and 215 hp Armstrong Siddeley Lynx engines for testing. Several versions of the Vedette were produced, including two amphibious versions and one with an enclosed cabin on an all-metal hull. With the exception of these major changes, most of the remaining differences between versions were relatively minor and not externally visible. Each version was produced with a range of optional engine types.

The first production example was provided to Fairchild Aerial Surveys (c/n 31 G-CAFF) before they started designing their own survey aircraft. The majority of the production run was purchased by the RCAF where the aircraft proved popular and versatile, if somewhat temperamental due to leaky hulls that required constant maintenance (a problem afflicting all wooden hulled flying boats). The Vedette undertook photographic and forestry patrols satisfactorily and provided a backbone for RCAF flying operations through the lean peacetime years. Vedettes started a coast-to-coast photographic survey that was needed to map out the large areas of the country still unmapped. These missions lasted until the outbreak of the Second World War, and would be completed after the war with newer types. Vedettes stationed on both coasts were also used for fishing and smuggling patrols, both with the RCAF and with Western Canada Airways.

The Vedette featured prominently in a number of mercy missions, while some airmen discovered it was nearly ideal for aerial goose hunting, at least until a pilot was hit by a goose. The first Canadian to join the Caterpillar Club by using a parachute to escape from an aircraft did so from RCAF Vedette “ZF” on 17 May 1929. The pilot, C.S. (Jack) Caldwell, while testing the aircraft at the Canadian Vickers factory, entered an uncontrollable spin after the engine failed and bailed out successfully over the St. Lawrence River.

The RCAF acquired one Wright J-4 engined Vedette I in 1925 and 18 Armstrong-Siddeley Lynx IV (210 hp) engined Vedette IIs from 1926 onwards; all of these were out of service before the Second World War began. Starting in 1929, the RCAF acquired 13 Vedette Vs with higher gross weight, and 11 Vedette VAs featuring Handley Page wing slots. The single Vedette VI, with Wright J-6 engine, featured a metal hull and an enclosed cockpit. A mark V was refurbished by the factory and as the sole Vam was given a new metal hull, as well as a new serial number (the last), but it retained its RCAF call sign as “ZD.” Seven Vedette VAs and the Mk VI survived into wartime service, flying with No 4(BR) Squadron and the Seaplane and Bomber Reconnaissance Training School (later No 13 OT Sqn) in Vancouver, BC until May 1941.

In addition to the RCAF, The Ontario, Manitoba and Saskatchewan governments used Vedettes extensively for scouting out forest fires in the heavily wooded areas of those provinces.

The company exported six Wright J-5 powered Vedette Vs to Chile, where they were based at Puerto Montt (which is on an inlet off the Pacific coast) with the Escuadrilla de Anfibios N° 1 (now known as the Grupo de Aviación N° 5). They were used to forge an air link between there and the capital Santiago, 569 miles (916 km) up the coast. At least one of the Vedettes, and possibly all six were lost due to hurricane force winds, which also caused the loss of two lives when one of the aircraft overturned while on the water.

The Beriev MBR-2 was a reconnaissance flying boat which entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1935.

The MBR-2 was designed by Georgy Mikhailovich Beriev and first flew in 1931, powered by an imported 373 kW (500 hp) BMW VI.Z engine. Production models, which arrived in 1934, used a licence-built version of this engine, the Mikulin M-17 of 508 kW (680 hp), and could be fitted with a fixed wheel or ski undercarriage.

Beriev also designed a commercial airliner derivation, the MP-1, which entered airline service in 1934, and a freighter version, which followed in 1936.

In 1935, an improved version was developed, the MBR-2bis, powered by the Mikulin AM-34N engine, and fitted with an enclosed cockpit, dorsal gun-turret and enlarged vertical tail. In this configuration, the machine remained in production until 1941. As with the MBR-2, the bis spawned a commercial derivative and the MP-1bis entered service in 1937.

The Aichi E13A (Allied reporting name: “Jake”) was a long-range reconnaissance seaplane used by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) from 1941 to 1945. Numerically the most important floatplane of the IJN, it could carry a crew of three and a bombload of 250 kg (550 lb). The Navy designation was “Navy Type Zero Reconnaissance Seaplane”.

In China, it operated from seaplane tenders and cruisers. Later, it was used as a scout for the Attack on Pearl Harbor, and was encountered in combat by the United States Navy during the Battles of Coral Sea and Midway. It was in service throughout the conflict, for coastal patrols, strikes against navigation, liaison, officer transports, castaway rescues, and other missions, along with some kamikaze missions in the last days of war.

Eight examples were operated by the French Navy Air Force during the First Indochina War from 1945-1947, while others were believed to be operated by the Naval Air Arm of the Royal Thai Navy before the war. One example captured by New Zealand forces was flown by RNZAF personnel in theatre, but sank and was not repaired after a float leaked.

The Ar 196 was a shipboard reconnaissance aircraft built by the German firm Arado starting in 1936. The next year it was selected as the winner of a design contest, and became the standard aircraft of the Kriegsmarine (German Navy) throughout World War II.

In 1933, the Kriegsmarine looked for a standardized shipboard reconnaissance aircraft. After a brief selection period, the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (German Air Ministry, RLM) decided on the Heinkel He 60 biplane. This was one of a line of developments of a basic biplane airframe that appeared as a number of floatplanes, trainers, and fighters. Deliveries started in a matter of months.

By 1935, it was clear that the He 60′s performance was lacking, and the RLM asked Heinkel to design its replacement. The result was the He 114. The first prototype was powered by the Daimler-Benz DB 600 inline engine, but it was clear that supplies of this engine would be limited, and the production versions turned to the BMW 132 radial engine instead.

The plane proved to have only slightly better performance than the He 60, and its sea-handling was poor. Rushed modifications resulted in a series of nine prototypes in an attempt to solve some of the problems, but they didn’t help much. The Navy gave up, and the planes were eventually sold off to Romania, Spain and Sweden.

In October 1936, the RLM asked for a He 114 replacement. The only stipulations were that it would use the BMW 132, and they wanted prototypes in both twin-float and single-float configurations. Designs were received from Dornier, Gotha, Arado and Focke-Wulf. Heinkel declined to tender, contending that the He 114 could still be made to work.

With the exception of the Arado design, they were all conventional biplanes. That gave the Arado better performance than any of the others, and the RLM ordered four prototypes.

The RLM was also rather conservative by nature, so they also ordered two of the Focke-Wulf Fw 62 design as a backup. It quickly became clear that the Arado would work effectively, and only four prototypes of the Fw 62 were built.

The Ar 196 prototypes were all delivered in summer 1937, V1 (which flew in May) and V2 with twin floats as A models, and V3 and V4 on a single float as B models.

Both versions demonstrated excellent water handling, and there seemed to be little to decide one over the other. Since there was a possibility of the smaller outrigger floats on the B models “digging in”, the twin-float A model was ordered into production. A single additional prototype, V5, was produced in November 1938 to test final changes.

10 A-0s were delivered in November and December 1938, with a single 7.92 mm (.312 in) MG 15 machine gun in the rear seat for defense. Five similarly equipped B-0s were also delivered to land-based squadrons. This was followed by 20 A-1 production models starting in June 1939, enough to equip the surface fleet.

Starting in November production switched to the heavier land-based A-2 model. It added shackles for two 50 kg (110 lb) bombs, two 20 mm