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History: Inspired by the performance of the
Grumman Goose during WWII, the U.S. Navy solicited Grumman to design a significantly
larger amphibian with longer range. In 1944, Grumman submitted and won approval of its
design G-64, to be named "Albatross," with
accommodation for a crew of four, and a cabin capacity of 10 passengers, stretchers, or
5,000 pounds of cargo, as circumstances dictated. In addition, there were pylons under the
wing and outboard of the engines which made it possible to carry weapons or drop tanks for
increased range. In addition, fuel could be carried in the fixed underwing floats.
Ordered by the Navy as a utility aircraft, the prototype which flew first in
October of 1947, was designated XJR2F-1, going into production
as the UF-1.
Too late for service in World War II, the Albatross was used extensively in the
Korean and Vietnam wars. Experience with the UF-1 led to a number of modifications, such
as more effective de-icing boots for the leading edges of airfoils, increased wing span,
redesign of the leading edge to increase lift, and an increase in the area of the ailerons
and tail surfaces. The revised model, introduced in 1955, was called UF-2.
Ten were used by the Royal Canadian Air Force, joining that service in October of
1960 as a triphibious (land/sea/snow-ice) vehicle providing search and rescue, and mercy
flights, for the Canadian mainland, coastal waters and the Arctic archipelago.
When the U.S. Armed Services went through a rationalization of their craft
designations, the two models became the HU-16C and HU-16D,
respectively. Aircraft specially winterized for Antarctic service that had been designated
UF-1L became LU-16C, and five dual
control trainers initially designated UF-17 became TU-16C.
Impressed with the potential of the G-64 for rescue operations, the USAF ordered
305 planes, assigning most to the Air Rescue Service of the Military Air Transport Service
with the designation SA-16A. In 1957 an improved version
equivalent to the Navy's UF-2 went into service as the SA-16B.
When the names were "rationalized" in 1962, they became the HU-16A
and HU-16B, respectively.
Albatrosses assigned to the U.S. Coast Guard originally designated UF-1G
were reclassified as HU-16E, and the 10 supplied to Canada were
An anti-submarine version, the SHU-16B, was introduced in
1961, redesigned to carry a few small depth charges. It was also equipped with a nose
radome, retractable MAD (Magnetic Anomaly Detector) gear, ECM radome and searchlight to enable it to find targets for
The final official Grumman classification was G-111,
devised in the 1970s as the result of a collaborative effort between the manufacturer and
Resorts International to convert the military aircraft to an airliner. Of the 57 surplus
aircraft purchased for rehabbing, 12 were completed and placed in storage by Chalk
Airlines of Miami, where they remain. Despite that disappointing outcome, by 1997 there
were 92 Albatrosses on the US civil registry, of which 30 were still flying as
island-hopping airliners, or as customized executive aircraft. Thus, the Grumman HU-16
"Albatross" continues to fulfill the people-hauling part of the role that it was
intended for when it first entered military service with the United States Air Force, Navy
and Coast Guard, eventually serving 22 foreign governments as well.
Nicknames: Duckbutt; Dumbo; Goat
Engines: Two 1,425-hp Wright R-1820-76A or -76B Cyclone 9-cylinder radial piston engines
Weight: Empty 22,883 lbs., Max
Takeoff 35,700 lbs.
Wing Span: 96ft. 8in.
Length: 61ft. 3in.
Height: 25ft. 10in.
miles with full internal and external fuel tanks
Number Built: 464, plus 2 prototypes
Number Still Airworthy: 34
American Warbirds, Inc., Carson City,
Nevada, USA -- Albatross specialists
Grumman Albatross Web Site -- Lots of great
Seaplane Operations, LLC, Zephyr Cove,
Nevada, USA -- Albatross training
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