Grumman HU-16 Albatross
YOU TUBE - Grumman HU-16 Albatross
two to four
2 x1,425 hp ea.
62 ft. 10 in.
96 ft. 8 in.
Grumman HU-16 Albatross
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The Grumman HU-16 Albatross is credited with the rescue of thousands of airmen from coastal waters and rivers during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The twin radial engine Albatross is an amphibian aircraft with the
ability to perform a variety of missions. It can operate with skis from snow and ice, from land, or water.
After World War II the United States miliary wanted a replacement for its aging fleet of amphibious aircraft. While surface vessels can carry
out search and rescue missions, they are slow and can only cover a minimal search area. In contrast amphibious aircraft are able to
ranch out over vast areas of ocean on a single mission.
Realising the strategic necessity for effective amphibious aircraft in the U.S. military inventory, the government issued a requirement for a large
amphibious design that could easily handle four foot seas, and land in seas up to ten feet if necessary.
Grumman's design, that became the HU-16 Albatross, was based on an enlarged version of their Mallard aircraft. It was selected, in part, because
it employed some of the familiar elements of its predecessor aircraft. It was powered by higher performance 1,425 h.p. Wright
Radial R-1820 engines, with a stronger fuselage for taking the punishment of landing in rough seas.
Because of the long duration of maritime missions, crew comfort was taken seriously. The aircraft received sound proofing to protect the crew
against the noise of the radial engines.
The first of three prototype aircraft first flew on Oct. 24, 1947. The Grumman HU-16 Albatross first entered service in 1949 with the United States Air Force.
The "B" version, with a 16 foot longer wing, was introduced in 1955. Prior to its last designation as HU-16 beginning in 1962, the
U.S. Air Force designated the aircraft as SA-16, the U.S. Navy as JR2F-1 and the U.S. Coast Guard as UF-1.
The amphibian first saw action with the U.S. Air Force in Korea, where it was employed to rescue numerous air crews from waters off the coast. It was there
that it became known for its ability to handle rough waters. The amphibian was again used by the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam, where it flew many rescue missions.
The U.S. Air National Guard, part of the U.S. Air Force, used a small number of HU-16 aircraft for insertion and extration of their Special Forces units.
The HU-16 was deployed for search and rescue missions from U.S. Navy bases in the United States and throughout the world. In addition, they also used the aircraft for utility operations and some missions
into Vietnam. We have seen numerous uses of the term "skunk runs" in regard to those missions, but can not find the meaning of the term. If anyone knows, please email us.
Martin J. Simpson (firstname.lastname@example.org) emailed us: "I understand that "skunk runs" were covert missions undertaken by navy
aircraft to pick up and drop of U.S. agents from pre-arranged pick up
points." - Thank you, Martin, very much for that explanation.
The U.S. Coast Guard also deployed the Grumman HU-16 Albatross, primarily for rescue missions, from intercoastal waters to long range missions over ocean waters.
During the years a number of air carriers converted the HU-16 to use for passenger service. The conversions included engine modifications
for safety and longevity, redudant fire extinguishers for each engine, prop auto feathering, strengthening the wings, adding and
enlarging doors and hatches. The amphibians have also been sold to individuals for non-commercial use.
A total of 466 Grumman HU-16 Albatross aircraft of all types were produced.