- Flying boat
caption=Short S23 'C' Class or 'Empire' Flying Boat
A flying boat is a specialised form of
aircraftthat is designed to take off from and land on water, using its fuselageas a floating hull. Such aircraftare sometimes stabilised on water by underwing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage. It is the use of the fuselage to provide the main buoyancyof the aircraft which distinguishes flying boats from floatplanes, which use one or more floats attached below the fuselage or the wings to keep the fuselage clear of the water.
Flying boats were some of the largest aircraft of the first half of the 20th century. Their ability to alight on water allowed them to break free of the size constraints imposed by general lack of large, land-based runways, and also made them important for maritime patrol and air-to-sea rescue, capabilities put to great use in
World War II. Following World War II, their use gradually tailed off, with many of the roles taken over by land aircraft types.
In the 21st century, flying boats maintain a few niche uses, such as for dropping water on forest fires and for air transport around archipelagos.
In 1911 Curtiss unveiled a development of his earlier floatplane and landplane model D, this time fitted with a hull, and designated as the Model E.In 1913, the boat building firm
J. Samuel Whiteof West Coweson the Isle of Wight, set up a new aircraft division and produced a flying boat. This was displayed at the London Air Show at Olympia in 1913Flying Boats of the Solent, Norman Hull. ISBN 1-85794-161-6] . In that same year, a collaboration between the S.E. Saunders boatyard of East Coweson the Isle of Wightand the Sopwith Aviation Companyproduced their "Bat Boat", an aircraft with a consutalaminated hull that could operate from land or on water . The "Bat Boat" completed several landings on sea and on land and was duly awarded the Mortimer Singer Prize. It was the first all-British aeroplane capable of making six return flights over five miles within five hours.
World War Ithe American pioneer aviator Glenn Curtiss, who had been experimenting with floatplanes, joined with Englishman John Cyril Porteto design a flying boat that could take the prize offered by the British " Daily Mail" newspaper for the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic ocean. [Enhanced by a further sum from the "Women's Aerial League of Great Britain" [http://www.nasm.si.edu/research/aero/aircraft/felixstowe.htm] ] Porte developed a practical hull design with the distinctive 'step' which could be married to Curtiss' airframe and engine design. The resulting large aircraft would be able to carry enough fuel to fly long distances and could berth alongside ships for refuelling. The war interrupted Porte's plans.
World War I
From 1914 Curtis produced his "America" flying boat, several examples of which were acquired by the
Royal Naval Air Serviceand tested at their Seaplane Experimental Station, now run by Porte. Porte developed an improved hull, resulting in the Felixstowe F.1 and its larger derivatives, used for coastal patrols and hunting U-boats.
Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Companyindependently developed its designs into the small model 'F', the larger model 'K' several of which were sold to the Russian Naval Air Service, and the Model 'C' for the US Navy. Curtiss among others also built the Felixstowe F5as the Curtiss F5L, based on the final Porte hull designs and powered by American Liberty engines.
Between the wars
NC-4became the first aircraft to fly across the Atlantic Oceanin 1919, crossing via the Azores. Of the four that were to make the attempt, only one completed the flight.
In the 1930s, flying boats made it possible to have regular air transport between the U.S. and
Europe, opening up new air travel routes to South America, Africa, and Asia. Foynes, Irelandand Botwood, Newfoundland and Labradorwere the termini for many early transatlantic flights. Where land-based aircraft lacked the required airfields to land, flying boats could stop at small island, river, lakeor coastal stations to refuel and resupply. The Pan Am Boeing 314"Clipper" planes brought exotic destinations like the Far Eastwithin reach of air travellers and came to represent the romance of flight.
In 1923, the first British commercial flying boat service was introduced with flights to and from the
Channel Islands. The British aviation industry was experiencing rapid growth. The Government decided that nationalization was necessary and ordered five aviation companies to merge to form the state-owned Imperial Airwaysof London (IAL). IAL became the international flag-carrying British airline, providing flying boat passenger and mail transport links between Britain and South Africausing aircraft such as the Short S.8 Calcutta.
In 1928, a new world achievement in aviation attracted the attention of the Australian public when four
Supermarine Southamptonflying boats of the RAF Far-East flight arrived in Melbourneon a circumnavigation and flag-waving mission. The RAF crews were warmly welcomed by the waterside crowds, and the flight was considered proof that flying boats had evolved to become reliable means of long distance transport. Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services, better known as Qantas, had been registered in Brisbaneduring November 1920. With good levels of public support for the new faster public transport and agreements to carry domestic mail, the outback airline grew. By 1931, Qantas was trialling land plane flights connecting with Imperial Airways services. Mail was now reaching Londonin just 16 days - less than half the time taken by sea.
Government tenders on both sides of the world invited applications to run new passenger and mail services between the ends of Empire, and Qantas and IAL were successful with a joint bid. A company under combined ownership was then formed, Qantas Empire Airways. The new ten day service between
Sydney's Rose Bay and Southamptonwas such a success with letter-writers that before long the volume of mail was exceeding aircraft storage space. A solution to the problem was found by the British Government, who in 1933 had requested aviation manufacturer Short Brothersto design a big new long-range monoplane for use by IAL. Partner Qantas agreed to the initiative and undertook to purchase six of the new Short S23 'C' class or 'Empire' flying boats.
Delivering the mail as quickly as possible generated a lot of competition and some innovative solutions. A variant of the
Short Empireflying boats, Maia and Mercury, was a strange-looking solution where a four-engined floatplaneMercury was fixed on top of Maia, a heavily modified Short Empireflying boat. The idea was to use the larger Maia to get the smaller Mercury (the winged messenger) off the ground at weights that would have been impossible otherwise, so that it could carry sufficient fuel for the trip. Unfortunately this limited the usefulness, and after crossing to New York the Mercury had to be returned by ship. The Mercury was to set a number of distance records before in-flight refuellingwas adopted.
Sir Alan Cobham devised a method of
in-flight refuellingin the 1930s, so that the Short Empireflying boats serving the transatlantic crossing could be refuelled over Foyneson the River Shannonin Irelandallowing them to carry more fuel than they could take off with, so as to enable them to make the trans-Atlantic flight. A Handley Page H.P.54 Harrowwas used as the fuel tanker
Dornier Do-Xflying boat was noticeably different to its UK and US built counterparts, using wing-like protusions from the fuselage to stabilise on the water. It was powered by 12 engines and carried 170 persons. >. It flew to America in 1929 crossing the Atlantic via an indirect route. It was the largest flying boat of its time but was severely underpowered and was limited by a very low operational ceiling. Only three were built with a variety of different engines installed, in an attempt to overcome the lack of power. Two of these were sold to Italy.
World War II
The military value of flying boats was well recognized and every country bordering on water operated them in a military capacity at the outbreak of the war. They were utilized in various tasks from
anti-submarinepatrol to maritime search and rescue and gunfire spotting for battleships. Aircraft such as the PBY Catalina, Short Sunderlandand Grumman Gooserecovered downed airmen and operated as scout aircraft over the vast distances of the Pacific Theater and Battle of the Atlantic during World War II, as well as sinking numerous submarines, and finding enemy ships. The German battleship Bismarckwas found during a routine patrol by a PBY Catalina.
The largest flying boat of the war was the
Blohm und Voss Bv 238which was also the heaviest plane to fly during the Second World War.
In November 1939, the structure of
Imperial Airwayswas changed to create British European Airwaysand British Overseas Airways Corporationwith the change being made official in 1 April 1940. BOAC continued to operate flying boat services from the (slightly) safer confines of Poole Harbourduring wartime, returning to Southamptonin 1947.
Post World War II
Hughes H-4 Herculesin development in the U.S. during the war was even larger than the Bv238, but it did not fly until 1947. The "Spruce Goose", as the H-4 was nicknamed, was the largest flying boat ever to fly. That short 1947 hop of the 'Flying Lumberyard' was to be its last however, a victim of post-war cutbacks and the disappearance of its intended mission as a transatlantic transport. [Its claim to true flying status is disputed as it made but one short flight in its life]
Following the end of World War II, the use of flying boats rapidly declined, though the U.S. Navy continued to operate such aircraft (notably the
Martin P5M Marlin) until the early 1970s, even attempting to build a jet-powered seaplane bomber, the Martin Seamaster. Several factors contributed to the decline. The ability to land on water became less of an advantage owing to the considerable increase in the number and length of land based runways, whose construction had been driven by the needs of the allied forces during the Second World War. Further, as the speed and range of land-based aircraft increased, the commercial competitiveness of flying boats diminished, as their design compromised aerodynamic efficiency and speed to accomplish the feat of waterborne takeoff and alighting. Competing with new civilian jet aircraft like the de Havilland Cometand Boeing 707was impossible. BOACcontinued to operate their flying boat services out of Southampton until November 1950.
Bucking the trend, in 1948,
Aquila Airwayswas founded to serve destinations that were still inaccessible to land based aircraft. This company operated Short S.25and Short S.45 flying boats out of Southampton on routes to Madeira, Las Palmas, Lisbon, Jersey, Majorca, Marseilles, Capri, Genoa, Montreuxand Santa Margherita. The airline ceased operations on 30th September 1958 .
From 1950 to 1957,
Aquila Airwaysalso operated a service from Southamptonto Edinburghand Glasgow.
The flying boats of
Aquila Airwayswere also chartered for one-off trips, usually to deploy troops where scheduled services didn't exist or where there were political considerations. Three Aquila flying boats were used during the Berlin Airlift. The longest charter, in 1952, was from Southampton to the Falkland Islands. In 1953 the flying boats were chartered for troop deployment trips to Freetownand Lagosand there was a special trip from Hull to Helsinkito relocate a ships crew.
The technically advanced
Saunders-Roe Princessfirst flew in 1952 and later received a certificate of airworthiness. Despite being the pinnacle of flying boat development, none were sold, despite Aquila Airwaysreportedly attempting to buy them. Of the three Princess that were built, two never flew and all were scrapped in 1967 Helicopters ultimately took over the flying boat air-sea rescue role.
P-3 Orionand carrier-based S-3 Vikingbecame the US Navy's fixed-wing anti-submarine patrol aircraft. Qantasflew a flying boat service from Rose Bay NSWto Lord Howe Islanduntil 1974.
The shape of the
Short Empirewas a harbinger of the shape of later aircraft yet to come, and the type also contributed much to the designs of later ekranoplans. However, true flying boats have largely been replaced by seaplanes with floats and amphibian aircraftwith wheels. The Beriev Be-200twin-jet amphibious aircraft has been one of the closest 'living' descendants of the flying-boats of old, along with the larger amphibious planes used for fighting forest fires. There are also several experimental/kit amphibians such as the Volmer Sportsman, Glass Goose, the LSA SeaMax, Aeroprakt A-24, and the Seawind.
The ShinMaywa US-2 (Japanese: 新明和 US-2) are large STOL aircraft designed for air-sea rescue (SAR) work.US-2 is operated by Japan Self Defense Force.
Canadair CL-215and successor Canadair CL-415are also examples of modern flying boats and are used for forest fire suppression.clr
List of flying boats and seaplanes
Notes and references
* [http://www.seawings.co.uk/ The Flying Boat Web Site]
* [http://wio.ru/ww1a/fboat.htm Russian WWI and Civilian War Flying Boats]
* [http://www.flyingboatsonline.com/ Sunderland Flying Boats Windermere]
* [http://www.flyingclippers.com/ Flying Clippers Pan American's Fabulous Flying Ships]
* [http://www.flyingclippers.com/B314.html The Boeing B-314]
* [http://www.flying-contraptions.com/ Flying Contraptions]
* [http://www.msacomputer.com/FlyingBoats-old/ Flying Boats of the world - A Complete Reference]
* [http://www.flyingboatmuseum.com/ Foynes Flying Boat Museum]
* [http://www.martinmars.com/ Present Day Application of Flying Boats]
* [http://seamaxusa.com/ LSA seaplane SeaMax]
* [http://www.flug-revue.rotor.com/FRheft/FRH9906/FR9906d.htm The Dornier Do X]
* [http://www.centaurseaplane.com/centaur-introduction.htm Centaur Seaplane]
* [http://www.airliner.net/ Pan Am Clipper Airliners]
* [http://www.transatlanticflightpby.com/ TransAtlantic Re-enactment Flight]
* [http://www.filmaffaires.com.au/ Flying boat documentaries on DVD]
* [http://www.earlyaviators.com/eporte.htm Cyril Porte and Glenn H.Curtiss]
* [http://seamaxusa.com/seamax-usa.phtml SeaMax USA]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Flying boat — A compact form of hydro a[ e]roplane having one central body, or hull. [Webster 1913 Suppl.] … The Collaborative International Dictionary of English
flying boat — n. an airplane with a hull that permits it to land on and take off from water … English World dictionary
flying boat — noun a large seaplane that floats with its fuselage in the water rather than on pontoons • Hypernyms: ↑seaplane, ↑hydroplane * * * ˈflying boat 7 [flying boat flying boats] noun a large plane that can take off from and land on water … Useful english dictionary
flying-boat — flyˈing boat noun A seaplane with a boat s body • • • Main Entry: ↑fly … Useful english dictionary
flying boat — A form of seaplane whose fuselage serves as the boat hull … Aviation dictionary
flying boat — fly′ing boat n. aer. a seaplane whose main body is a hull adapted for floating • Etymology: 1915–20 … From formal English to slang
flying boat — /ˈflaɪɪŋ boʊt/ (say fluying boht) noun an aircraft, whose main body consists of a single hull or boat, that can take off and land on water … Australian English dictionary
flying boat — noun Date: 1913 a seaplane with a hull designed for floating … New Collegiate Dictionary
flying boat — a seaplane whose main body is a hull adapted for floating. Cf. floatplane. [1900 05] * * * … Universalium
flying boat — seaplane with a hull adapted for floating … English contemporary dictionary