The versatile "Albatross" amphibian was
designed to meet a Navy requirement for a utility aircraft which could
operate from land or water and, with skis, from snow and ice. The
prototype first flew on October 24, 1947 and soon after the USAF ordered a
quantity for air-sea rescue duties as SA-16As. (In 1962 the USAF
designation was changed to HU-16.) Grumman delivered 297 "-A"s to the Air
Force; most were assigned to the Air Rescue Service.
In 1955, Grumman developed an improved
version with a 16 1/2 foot increase in wing span and larger aileron and
tail surfaces. Beginning in 1957, many "-A"s were converted to the "-B"
configuration with these improvements.
The Albatross is best known as a rescue
aircraft. During the Korean War, Albatrosses rescued almost 1,000 United
Nations personnel from coastal waters and rivers, often behind enemy
lines. They also made numerous dramatic and hazardous rescues in Southeast
Asia, on occasion taxiing many miles over rough, open water when unable to
Span: 96 ft. 8 in.
Length: 62 ft. 10 in.
Height: 25 ft. 10 in.
Weight: 36,000 lbs. max.
Engines: Two Wright R-1820s of 1,425 hp. ea.
Serial Number: 51-5282
Maximum speed: 250 mph.
Cruising speed: 165 mph.
Range: 1,650 miles
Service Ceiling: 22,000 ft.