Albatross

albatross

Albatross

The Albatross, the fifth amphibian built by Grumman Aircraft for the military, was designed in the late 1940’s for Air/Sea search and rescue, air ambulance, anti-submarine patrol and warfare, cargo, and transport. The first of about 450 aircraft built entered service in 1949. The Albatross served with the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard, and the military services of 17 foreign countries. The last aircraft left Navy service in 1976, and some Albatrosses are still in service abroad.

The Albatross usually carried a crew of seven, including pilot, co-pilot, radio operator, radar operator, navigator and two crewmen. The search radar was said to be sensitive enough to spot a liferaft on the open ocean. During the Korean war 900 airmen were rescued by Albatross crews. It has a wingspan of 85 feet, a length of 62 feet and weighs 22,000 pounds empty. It can carry 1700 gallons of fuel in its main, float and drop tanks and has a range of over 3,000 miles. It has two nine cylinder supercharged Wright 1820-76 radial engines that produce 1450 horsepower each and give it a cruise speed of close to 200 mph and a service ceiling of over 25,000 feet. N3HU is an ‘A’ model Albatross. The ‘B’ model was designed later, has a longer wingspan, that gives it a greater range and service ceiling, but slightly slower speed. A ‘tri’-phibian version with skis was designed to operate off the ice and snow in the polar regions.

Grumman Albatross, USN Bureau Number 131906, was delivered to the Seven Rivers Naval Air Station, Annapolis Maryland on June 23rd, 1953. It subsequently served at NAMC R&D in Philadelphia, FASRON 110, N.A.S. Kwajalean, N.A.S. North Island San Diego, N.A.S. Pensacola, N.A.S. Trinidad, and finished its operational duty at N.A.S. Key West, Florida. On May 9th, 1968 it was ferried to Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona for mothballing and storage. It, along with 29 other Albatrosses, was traded for by a Florida aviation enthusiast in the 1980’s and we selected and purchased it in 1992. The aircraft had only 3500 hours of flight time, and underwent complete inspection and replacement (IRAN) overhaul only 700 hours prior to its retirement. It was restored to flying condition by Chuck Wooten of Specialized Aircraft Maintenance in Tucson, ferried to Aerocrafters Aviation Inc. in Santa Rosa California in 1993, and the restoration process was largely completed by the spring of 1995. With the exception of modern avionics and instruments, the interior and exterior were generally restored to original condition and configuration. A marine lavatory replaced the spartan Navy head and a small galley will be added.

The aircraft will be used for exploring lakes and territories in the far reaches of Canada, Alaska and eventually Australia and Africa. Though designed for salt water operations, it will be used mainly in fresh water in order to avoid the problems of corrosion. N3HU is based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and spends many of the summer months on Lake Pend Oreille outside of Sandpoint, Idaho.

Mfr: Grumman
Model: HU-16A
Serial: 131906
Built: 1953
N-Number: N3HU
Engines: Two
Wright
Thrust: 1,350 hp @ 2700 rpm
Length: 62 ft. 2 in.
Height: 26 ft. 5.25 in.
Wingspan: 80 ft. 0 in.
Weight: Empty: 22,533 lbs.
Max Takeoff: 33,500 lbs.
Performance: Range: 2,850 miles
Ceiling: 21,500 ft.
Max Speed: 260 kts

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