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Air Force HU-16B
HU-16E on static display
Chalk's International Airlines Albatross arriving in Miami Harbor from Nassau, Bahamas, in 1987


The Grumman HU-16 Albatross is a large twin-radial engine amphibious flying boat. Originally designated SA-16, it was renamed HU-16 in 1962.

Design and development

An improvement of the design of the Grumman Mallard, the Albatross was developed to land in open ocean situations to rescue downed pilots. Its deep-V cross-section and substantial length enable it to land in the open sea. The Albatross was designed for optimal 4 ft seas, and could land in more severe conditions, but required JATO for takeoff in 8-10 ft seas or greater.

Since the aircraft weighs over 12,500 pounds, pilots of US-registered Albatross aircraft must have a type rating. There is a yearly Albatross fly-in at Boulder City, Nevadamarker where Albatross pilots can become type rated.

Operational history

The majority of Albatrosses were used by the U.S. Air Force, primarily by the Air Rescue Service, and initially designated as SA-16. The USAF utilized the SA-16 extensively in Korea for combat rescue, where it gained a reputation as a rugged and seaworthy craft. Later, the redesignated HU-16B (long-wing variant) Albatross was used by the U.S. Air Force's Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service and saw extensive combat service during the Vietnam conflict.

The U.S. Navy also employed the HU-16D Albatross as a Search And Rescue aircraft from coastal naval air stations, both stateside and overseas. It was also employed as an operational support aircraft worldwide and for "skunk runs" from the former NAS Aganamarker, Guammarker during the Vietnam War. Goodwill flights were also common to the surrounding Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands in the early 1970s. Open water landings and water takeoff training using JATO was also frequently conducted frequently by U.S. Navy HU-16s from locations such as NAS Agana, Guam; Naval Station Guantanamo Baymarker, Cuba; NAS Barbers Pointmarker, Hawaii; and NAS Pensacolamarker, Florida, among other locations.

The HU-16 was also operated by the U.S. Coast Guard as both a coastal and long-range open ocean SAR aircraft for many years until it was supplanted by the HU-25 Guardian and HC-130 Hercules.

Civil operations

In the mid-1960s the U.S. Department of the Interior bailed 3 military Grumman HU-16's from the U.S. Navy and established the Trust Territory Airlines in the Pacific to serve the islands of Micronesia. Pan American World Airways and finally Continental Airlines' Air Micronesia operated the Albatrosses serving Yap, Palau, Chuuk (Truk) and Pohnpei from Guam until 1970, when adequate island runways were built, allowing land operations.

In 1970, Conroy Aircraft marketed a remanufactured HU-16A with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprop engines as the Conroy Turbo Albatross, but only the single prototype (registration N16CA) was ever built.

Many surplus Albatrosses were sold to civilian operators, mostly to private owners. These aircraft are operated under either Experimental - Exhibition or Restricted category and cannot be used for commercial operations, except under very limited conditions.

In the early 1980's Chalk's International Airlines owned by Merv Griffin's Resorts International had 13 Albatrosses converted to Standard category as G-111's. This made them eligible to be used in scheduled airline operations. These aircraft had extensive modification from the standard military configuration, including rebuilt wings with titanium wing spar caps, additional doors and modifications to existing doors and hatches, stainless steel engine oil tanks, dual engine fire extinguishing systems on each engine and propeller auto feather systems installed. The G-111's were only operated for a few years and then put in storage in Arizona. Most are still parked there, but some have been returned to regular flight operations with private operators.

Accidents and incidents



Variants

  • XJR2R-1 - Prototype designation, two built.
  • HU-16A (originally SA-16A) - USAF version
  • HU-16A (originally UF-1) - Indonesian version
  • HU-16B (originally SA-16A) - USAF version (modified with long wing)
  • SHU-16B (modified HU-16B for Anti-Submarine Warfare) - export version
  • HU-16C (originally UF-1) - US Navy version
  • LU-16C (originally UF-1L) - US Navy version
  • TU-16C (originally UF-1T) - US Navy version
  • HU-16D (originally UF-1) - US Navy version (modified with long wing)
  • HU-16D (originally UF-2) - German version (built with long wing)
  • HU-16E (originally UF-1G) - US Coast Guard version (modified with long wing)
  • HU-16E (originally SA-16A) - USAF version (modified with long wing)
  • G-111 (originally SA-16A) - derived from USAF, JASDF, and German originals)
  • CSR-110 - RCAF version


Operators



Survivors

Preserved Hellenic AF aircraft at Dekelia AB.




Specifications (?)

See also

References

  1. http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=372


External links




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