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Saturday, October 23, 2010
The Amphibious (The Grumman G-64/111 Albatross)
The Albatross is easily the largest of Grumman's series of utility amphibians, and was the only one originally developed specifically for military service.
The Albatross resulted from a late 1940s US Navy requirement for a general purpose amphibious transport. The first Albatross prototype flew for the first time on October 24 1947, with more than 400 production HU-16s subsequently delivered to the US Navy, US Coast Guard and 12 other nations. Military Albatross missions included general reconnaissance, maritime patrol, anti submarine warfare (in which role it could be armed with torpedoes and depth charges) and search and rescue.
In the late 1970s, Grumman and major US flying boat operator Resorts International began work on a program to convert the Albatross for civil airline service. The conversion incorporated numerous changes to the basic Albatross, including a 28 seat passenger interior, a galley and provision for a flight attendant, upgraded avionics and other improved systems. The airframes were also stripped down, inspected, components were replaced or repaired, and the whole airframe was zero timed. Military equipment was removed and the engines were stripped down and rebuilt. The first such G-111 Albatross conversion flew for the first time on February 13 1979 and US FAA certification was awarded in April 1980.
Grumman purchased 57 Albatrosses for conversion and foresaw a potential market for up to 200 modified amphibians, however this prediction proved somewhat optimistic. In all only 13 aircraft were converted, 12 for Resorts International, and 1 for Conoco Oil/Pelita which operated from Singapore. Several of these are still active, together with ex military examples.
A more developed version powered by Garrett TPE-331 turboprops and a firebomber were also studied but not developed. Later in 1986 Frakes International proposed reengining Albatrosses with Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A or PW-120 turboprops, but this plan also was not pursued. However, some Albatrosses have been converted to turbine power.
G-111 - Two 1100kW (1475hp) Wright R-1820-982C9HE3 radial piston engines driving three blade constant speed propellers.
G-111 - Max speed 380km/h (205kt), max cruising speed 362km/h (195kt), long range cruising speed 200km/h (108kt). Initial rate of climb (with METO power) 1250ft/min. Range with 28 passengers and reserves 750km (405nm) from water or 505km (273nm) from land, max ferry range with no reserves 2740km (1480nm).
G-111 - Operating empty 10,660kg (23,500lb), max takeoff from land 13,880kg (30,605lb), max takeoff from water 14,225kg (31,365lb).
Flightcrew of two. G-111 civil conversion seats 28 passengers in main cabin at 81cm (32in) pitch.
Production for military customers of 418, built between 1947 and 1961. Grumman purchased 57 ex military Albatrosses for conversion to civil G-111 configuration in the early 1980s, but only 13 were converted. Other ex USN Albatrosses fly in private hands.