296 Comments
Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

An innovative answer to a real problem. I watched a rescue of a fishing crew with one of these aircraft while in the USN. Your line by line analysis is excellent.

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

“However, we support the continuous development of new and innovative solutions that may provide solutions to logistical challenges.”

Translation: "Shin Maywa does not get (me/my patron) paid. The contracts for the yet-to-be-more-than-an-artist's-conception DERPA...sorry, I mean DARPA Wunderwaffen just might get (me/my patron) paid."

Now where did I put that black flag...?

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So, get LockMart a contract to build US-2s at Marieta. They are quite similar to Hercs, after all.

While we're at it, figure out how to put a ramp in them, call them SU-2s....because that side door is a PITA for jumping

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Or just build the C-130 floatplane. It's not as good a seaboat as the US-2, but you can open the rear ramp and deploy/recover stuff out the back end.

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Not that model with the Wipeaire amphib floats, though - the one that's maybe practical is one from Lockmart (I think) which looks like they plopped a Herc on a giant inflatable boat...

Those strap on floats? Gonna rip right off, the first time they touch water: They will submarine and poof! Gone.

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The proposal I saw called for 80' floats. Special design from Edo, designed as a self-contained truss that would bolt to the normal landing gear trunnions. You could convert any C-130 except the UK stretch units into a floatplane.

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I wonder if the original Lockheed design (the boat-hulled Herc) was amphibious?

The problem with strapping floats onto a hull not designed for sea duty is corrosion and stress. So, build purpose built airplanes.

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I don't recall offhand. My own proposed CONOPS for the C-130 floatplane was to take high-time airframes and accept that they would be written off fairly rapidly. But a lot of the corrosion can be mitigated with thorough washdowns.

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When I give a history tour with young flight students in Pensacola, I always show them the score board of the Hornet with all those Japanese air to air kills (over 600) I would point and tell them to imagine the opening days of the war with China and being on the 7th fleet watch floor and hearing and seeing all the PLB’s going off over the South China Sea and Sea of Japan. I pointedly ask them: “Since this WILL be you or squadron mates. HOW will we rescue you? Submarines will be too important and critically employed to risk for a rescue. The rotary assets will be busy engaged in ASW or the DDG won’t be in the area due to tasking, and the CV will be busy engaging in reducing the LLOA for its next strike or its survival. What is the plan?!?”

The look on their faces is profound and I can tell it’s a thought and discussion they haven’t had up until then.

Rotary rescues provide an advantage over latency. Because a helo can hover and recover. But the environment must be semi permissive and with in range of the rescue. This makes a sea plane the best choice based on range alone and chance of success and survival of the rescue asset.

Admiral Aquilino is missing an opportunity to save training dollars to replace our airman and more importantly he is missing an opportunity to maintain the fighting spirit of those squadrons when they are tasked to fly and fight knowing they or their squadron buddies have a legitimate chance of rescue. To pretend or ignore that rescues won’t be an outcome of our war with China is a moral hazard and criminal.

I would hate to be the TFCC or Battle Watch Captain when the opening blows begin knowing we can’t rescue those aircrews.

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The military industrial complex if any has had the populace watching the wrong movies, then. The consumer certainly has the expectation that for their tax dollars they get those Hollywood rescues. They always have. Weeks of briefings with numbers of pilots drowned are going to be some kind of lit television.

Drones somehow?

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The cost to replace these aircrews is going to be on order of magnitude due to the particular skill set and years to grow them. We can’t afford to not have a plan to recover them and get them back into the fight. Imagine if we wasted / sacrificed our airwings from Yorktown, Lexington, Wasp, and Hornet? We would have had no instructors to rotate back and train our new pilots. The thought process is very short and direct when understanding that value.

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Grandpa Scoobs' ticket to the war zone was expedited by the events of the Battle of the Philippine Sea - namely the (in)famous "Mission Beyond Darkness" that left scores of aviators scattered in the ocean west of Mariannas. Initial reports were that all these missing airmen were permanently lost and replacement squadrons were needed ASAP; fortunately due to massive air-sea rescue efforts the vast majority of these missing airmen were eventually recovered - a luxury I doubt we'll be afforded in the future. As it was, Grandpa Scoobs & Co. joined Lexington CV-16 at Eniwetok three weeks after Phil Sea in time to cover the landings on Guam - how quickly could we reconstitute one (let alone multiple) decimated carrier air wings today?

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I am privy to the current production rates of SNA. Current Navy (start of API / NIFE. These are under ideal conditions with availability of aircraft and timing of student loading and notional. Some may be faster but most are average or later:

P8 pilot - 18 months

P8 NFO - 12 months

E2/C2 - 18 months

F18/EA18 - 18 - 24 months

F35 - 36 months

Rotary Navy - 14 months

So you can see the production latency. We would need to pull in recently retired and cadre instructors to rebuild an airwing and that would take time in itself to imitate a CAT 2 syllabus and have the aircraft for flights.

It’s cheaper and more effective in a long term war to keep what we have and recover them when we can. Massive losses and writing them off in the beginning will take years to recover from. Of course that is relative to a loss of carrier as well. It would take a decade to build a new one even if we have control of our grid and our yards aren’t destroyed.

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How fast can we build replacement airplanes?

It will be a come as you are war. If it's not on hand now, we're not building a Willow Run factory to crank out a B24 every hour

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That’s why we need the sea planes now to be able to rescue our current inventory of aviators…. Is this thing on?!

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"The military industrial complex if any has had the populace watching the wrong movies, then.

FBI "Hold my beer".

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CSAR version is a necessity, and so are ASW and Maritime Strike versions!

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and all those new USMC Island recon/strike teams gonna need something faster and lower cost than a TF of an LPH and two FFGs

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Verily, those versions are also needed!

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One problem at a time.

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Commander, you're looking at this from the wrong perspective. You must remember the 100%-owned F Joe Biden and his junta are doing everything they can to render us completely helpless. From such things as abject surrender in Afghanistan, turning over $billions in war-fighting materiel, to draining our weapons/ammunition/fuel stocks to empty, giving it all away to another puppet regime...

Since they will surrender promptly after the first major shot is fired by PLA, there will be no need to consider rescuing Airmen from downed planes or Sailors from sunken ships.

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Those people Joe Inc. will task the Chinese to recover downed POW's.

Or contract the job out with kickback of 10%.

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Geez, such cynicism, Duke. But laid upon a firm foundation. FJB's junta will not surrender. It'll be more like calling it a win, declaring peace, promising a Marshall plan and giving Xi private access to Taylor Swift.

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Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Not sexy enough Sal. No flag is going to add a star for that. Not made here, no congresscritter graft opportunity. And where is the DIE [sic] linkage?

Yer better'n this. 😉

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Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

20 years of operations analysis on the Navy and OSD staff’s constantly resurrected the seaplane concept and the great value in supporting austere locations and conducting CSAR. Leadership and the acquisition experts (too beholden to existing programs) always rejected the idea. Great article- thank you

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Fret not, we might eventually get the C-130 on floats which will probably be slower, have a greatly reduced range and most likely the reduced capabilities most float planes have in comparison to a seaplane.

Plus? It will have the added issues of pulling crews from the water due to its height.

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Just have evac straps like an Apache helicopter. "I know you're bleeding internally, but could you hold on 300 more miles"?

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We should cut a deal to assemble US-2 by license at the Herc factory.

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They are very similar airframes - same engines, about the same size, etc.

But the US-2 has a glaring deficiency: No ramp. It doesn't need one just like a herc, but rather like a CH-53

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A big cargo door is one thing, not sure a ramp, on an aircraft of that size, in the water, is a good idea. It probably would've already been done with the older Marlin and Mariner airframes.

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It's been done in the CH3-CH53 and CH47 helos, all of which have at least limited float abilities. The various Martin airframes optimized 1940's design boat hulls over rescue functionality. It may not be available 100% of the time, but that little hatch? Nope, nopeity nope.

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Visor bow/nose

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LOL

What could possibly go wrong with that?

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Why does the new Russian Navy have glass bottomed boats?

So they can see the old Russian Navy.

I'm so old. I remember when that was a Polish joke.

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Err, rear ramp on the herc. Makes it easy. Deploy a RIB, pick up the victims, drive up the ramp.

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Gonna' be a long-ass ramp to down past the height of them floats. And that means extra modifications. Color me skeptical.

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Well, it's not going to look like a pair of Wipeaire amphibious floats tied on....like that model suggests.

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Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

The biggest drawback is that the US-2 is a better sea-boat. The Shin Meiwa design took every lesson that Kawanishi learned designing flying boats for the IJN, then added everything they could think of in the 1950s and early 1960s. Including some nifty spray suppression channels in the hull.

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I find it fascinating that they have a totally separate turbine engine (T800) just to generate air for BLC....

Thats some serious problem solving..

But, they had ... interesting, and limited mission parameters. They clearly designed it to land, taxi up close to the victims and then boat them over. Not to deploy them at a distance. They clearly need a bigger door, if only to get droppable stores out easier.

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I'm just going to repeat what I replied to. The good commander above. Japan has built eight US-2s. How soon can we have 100? We have 100 C-130s now and can have 100 more reasonably quickly.

There is a joke about economists: assume a can opener. I, here, of course, assume a successful floatplane conversion. What older platforms are currently available for study, even at AMARC or museums? I've seen a P6M somewhere.

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Pensacola has a P5M Marlin. In VP40 livery.

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We can build Hercs faster than we are right now. We could likely add US-2s to the line in Marietta and build them faster than the Japanese are right now: They are building them for their operational needs and tempo, not for our needs.

But I bet the Japanese could speed up their line too.

The critical path analysis I'm worried about for building them are engines and electronics: REEs and chips...

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Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

Funny – I literally had this same conversation over the weekend with a P-8 bubba who was supposed to fly the US-2 as a part of USNTPS – I got the same stock response that while the ShinMaywa was fine piece of kit it was too specialized for USN use. I then asked him what the P-8 Plan B would be if the runways at Kadena, Andersen, and other sites were full of craters – he didn’t have an answer. I politely suggested he go read up on PatWing 10’s 1941/1942 “deployment” from Cavite to Darwin – Sal is right; there are very few (if any) senior USN officers who have an appreciation of history and have drawn lessons for the dark first six months of World War Two.

Papa Scoobs still speaks of the days when he was a JO stationed at NASNI and the last of the P5Ms graced the ramps, heralding the end of 50 years of seaplanes being an integral part of Naval Aviation.

Oh, and I’ve spoken with other USN bros who have flown the US-2 – they love it! Guess we’ll just sit back and watch LockMart fart around with adding pontoons to their “Sea”-130 – any bets on how long that’ll take???

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It will take a decade and in the end will become a C-17 seaplane that cannot land on water.

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Boeing will NEVER build another C17.

And if Boeing is the answer currently, it's the wrong damned question. They aren't building quality any more

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Probably true of A400 too.

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I can picture both trying to land on water even calm water. Would not want to be in them.

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"...read up on PatWing 10...." Have any recommendations?

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Jul 17, 2023Liked by CDR Salamander

I sure do - "In the Hands of Fate" & "Pawns of War" - both by Dwight Messimer, both still in print (I believe) by USNI Press. Some good Fullbore Friday material there.

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While you're at it, watch 'Flight from Ashiya" starring Richard Widmark and Yul Brenner....and think about that as a mission

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Also check out ADM Thomas Moorer - hard to believe but well within living memory we had a CNO (& CJCS!) who made his bones as a JO flying PBYs during the long & painful retreat from Philippines. Wish we could summon his spirit to chime in on this subject!

https://www.jcs.mil/About/The-Joint-Staff/Chairman/Admiral-Thomas-Hinman-Moorer/

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One of my interests is how the Allies weren't prepared for CSAR in the Med, post-Torch. The US initially relied on RAF and RN resources, and took them quite a while to get our own dedicated forces there

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I’ve got a couple of books on the subject chronicling the brave Supermarine Walrus crews that did heroic air-sea rescue work in the channel & Med for much of the war - many Americans owe their lives to those brave lads.

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Beyond Courage by Norman Franks is part of what interested me in the subject

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It's a good basic airplane.

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I remember as a pax in a C-12 in line for landing at Iwakuni behind a JASDF US-2 who left a huge "air-knuckle" we hit... dropped us about 500 ft... The US-2 is a hugely valuable asset and something we needed yesterday.

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Well, TBF look at the US-2.....a modern credit to McDonnel's law of aeronautics.

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We've shown a startling lack of strategic vision since the Cold War ended. USAF is the EA for CSAR yet has few CSAR assets, virtually all short ranged. Best they can come up with is pontoons for C130's so far. USN will need long range ASW to transit its carriers, yet the S3 has been gone a long time. The Japanese a/c could fill both CSAR and ASW needs.

BTW, it takes over a minute for a modern nuke to submerge, so you aren't going to get them surfacing for rescues in areas where there are hostile a/c around.

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Like how Mariners and Catalinas did both!

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

The US Air Force has the ONLY long-range CSAR assets in the US military, and is the only branch that practices long-range SAR regularly.

The USN will also require long-range (big belly) tankers to forward deploy it's fighters. Think they might be tasked elsewhere in the early days of a war?

They should buy used B-737 or 767 commercial AC, and put commercial IFR kits on them. It's been done, such tankers are used today, and it gets the job done cheaply and rapidly. Hose and drogue only, but that's fine for the small aircraft the navy has.

You also mentioned the biggest problem with dual or multi-mission aircraft: Which will be more important to a combat commander: ASW for a fleet, or recovering a single lost airman? The only way to recover lost combat crew is using dedicated CSAR assets.

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There might be money to be made selling tanker services commercially. Yes, I know about the one Omega tanker...but a fleet of a half-dozen or so might find decent work opportunities.

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There are more than the one AFAIK - the Navy uses them to support fighter training on both the East and West coasts, plus the NATO countries use them.

At any rate, it would be a good mission for even old airframes. Nice long runways to take off from and land on, mostly smooth air to fly in, nothing approaching the FEBA

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There is a reason for that. The USAF is the executive agent (EA) for CSAR, so gets the funding for both long and short range CSAR. The fact that they choose to not spend that money on CSAR is a USAF decision.

I concur with your comment 100% on USN tanker use. When consulted on the F-18 Growler I recommended off loading the low band jammers onto a 767 platform, add surveillance positions and aerial refueling, similar to Rivet Joint capabilities. This would have addressed the pending P-3/EP-3 retirement, and given the expeditionary Growler squadrons the ability to self deploy with 3-4 of these assets tied to 16 Growlers or so...put cargo and support personnel in them to deploy. Would also relieve some of the burden on the Navy reserve cargo assets.

Sadly, that advice wasn't taken. You'd think we'd learn and wire every 2 seat F18 with Growler wiring like the Aussies do, for combat losses. We don't.

BTW, just like doctors, "single lost airmen" only matter when you run out of them. IE, you don't build a skilled flight doc, or ER doc in a couple of yrs of med school, and you don't win air battles shoving a bunch of nuggets out the door without battle hardened Vets. That is the hard lesson we've learned every war. During Vietnam, it wasn't uncommon to lose 1/3 of the ready room to combat losses in a cruise, so every one of those aviators we could get back was a leader we needed back in the cockpit.

Enjoyed your comments and you're spot on. Have a good week.

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Any relation to the Air Tanker Coulsons?

And thanks!

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No, I wish. MIght have been a nice post-military career! They are mainly Canadians I believe. Have often wondered if they were Americans who crossed the border when the Coulson steamship line folded going up the MO river to Montana. For most of the 1860's and 70's they were the biggest steamboat outfit on the water. Haven't established a relationship to any of them, just ran across it in my research.

My family branch came over to the US with William Penn then got kicked out of the Quakers for fighting for the rebels during the revolution. Most moved from MD to VA over the years as the economy expanded. My branch moved to MO in 1836 through 1840 and ended up fighting the Coulsons who stayed in VA.

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rescue swimmer out the trunk?

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Seaplanes along with unmanned surface (even subsurface for those closer to enemy shores) rescue craft patrolling the waters along the flight paths.. These unmanned craft could provide an almost continuous presence. The craft could home in on the pilots survival emergency radio /beacon signal. Stocked with supplies and providing protection from the elements it could move the downed aircrew to a linkup with a seaplane other rescue vessel. Think of them has advanced, self-propelled versions of the rescue buoys used in the English Channel during WWII.

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Seaplanes start out simple, an aircraft with wings that lands on water.

Then, it grows into a thing that is too many jobs and missions, until it can't land on water anymore.

I recall the C-130 was investigated as a seaplane once.

How did that end up?

Oh well, we still do not have seaplanes.

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

The Herc was recently being discussed as a seaplane, again. But as a former Herc pilot and seaplane pilot, I'm not sanguine about it: The Herc has been around longer than I have (by about a year) and nobody has managed to do that except on a drawing board.

But I wonder if more MV-22s' with long-range tanks might not be a better choice than seaplanes: What sea state can a US-2 land and take off from? Cause a MV-22 can hover in some crappy weather and winch those fish aboard.

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The C-130 w/ floats, was an idea hatched over at USSOCOM about 3-4 years ago; everything over-there pivots around the -130 as the central point of reference. Interestingly it got some traction back CONUS, some budget was 'found' to 'investigate' the idea and prod Lockheed into fleshing it out. Since Lockheed bought Martin, who made the P5M Marlin, theoretically they should have the plans and notes on such a design to learn from.

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1. Lockheed proposed a flying boat based on the C-130 in the 1960s. But it was a C-130 cockpit on the front end, C-130 empennage on the back end, and a completely new fuselage in the middle.

2. In the mid-1990s, Lockheed proposed a C-130 floatplane. I'm familiar with that...I was the prospective Navy flight test engineer doing the test planning. The idea was to build a large (80') set of amphibious floats that would be a self-contained structure, bolted onto the landing gear trunnions of any C-130. Lockheed wanted to sell C-130Js, of course. This had the advantage of leveraging existing maintenance and training resources.

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

Great background and perspective.

Sounds like the flying boat/float plane idea has been brought up every generation since the Marlin was retired in the mid-60's. The further we get away from that era, the more this idea comes across as a novelty versus true utility.

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

The Lockheed design from the 60s actually looks like a Albatross on steroids.

https://i0.wp.com/cms.sofrep.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Herc-on-water-2.jpg?w=640&ssl=1

This is what the PLAN/PLAAF have:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVIC_AG600#Specifications_(AG600)

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You need multiple platforms, especially if you are going to use those slow LAWS to get people and equipment to islands...because you want to get OFF the island (and away) when you are attacked by superior forces a lot more quickly than 14 knots allows. So, that means getting Ospreys/Valors to lift personnel off the island to LHAs/LHDs or other islands. Equipment that they want to move would still need heavy lift helicopters to get out. Where these wouldn't serve to get people in and out, the seaplane would certainly have a mission, even as another platform for supply and logistics. You could also use the seaplanes (again) for ASW in the SCS in addition to SARS. So there is a lot they COULD do based on what they USED to do, for sure. Task and Purpose - you have a multi-role platform that can be used a lot of ways in a maritime environment and free up other assets for other duties, or plug the gap if they are otherwise engaged or not in position. As much as they need/want distributed fires, they also need distributed logistics and transport.

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They need an EPF that can beach.

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Yeah, that is what they are looking at with the LAW type...without the speed of the EPF. My notion has always been I like to be able to get out of a fight a lot quicker than I got into one, if necessary. Those slow moving LAWs would be, I think, very vulnerable in a wartime threat environment and would take a lot of protection to get them from one place to another successfully. At which point you are drawing so much attention to the movement, it becomes problematic to provide enough assets to protect them - when the point was to insert them surreptitiously in the first place.

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I love how the Marines just wish away the Chinese Maritime Militia, who will be following the LAWs as they crawl around at 14 knots. Is it surreptitious if there are Chinese fishing boats watching as you land?

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I figure the Marines can figure out a deception or misdirection plan, if necessary. It isn't like the Chinese can surveille all those islands or every square meter of ocean for ships the size of the LAWs. There have always been missions that have been scrubbed due to hostile forces, or just civilian observers, in a particular area when you are going to land for an operation.

If you'll remember, the Japanese had flying boats scheduled to land at French Frigate Shoals to refuel from submarines before flying on to Pearl to make sure the carriers were in port prior to Midway. It got scrubbed because, having broken their code, we had ships in the area and the sub had to vamoose and the planes couldn't land.

I would be more worried about being supplied, or having my deliveries spotted if they come regularly, than getting spotted on the way in by ships.

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They don't have to surveille all the islands, they just follow the LAWs from San Diego or Pearl Harbor, 'fishing', as the LAWs cruise at a stately 14 knots across the open ocean. Plus they have those annoying radar sats...

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

Sal, I'm an artillery guy - so things like fuel, range, heavy ammunition, consumption rates, and planning are near and dear to my heart. There are so many parallels with what is happening with the complex - and our ability to see things for what they are - yet not take action. Ukraine should be a wake up call for our politicians, military and industry...but as you continue to show, it's not always so.

This article is spot on...the enormity of the problem begs the question and you've provided a useful and workable answer. But alas, we'll see if the PF has the prescience and wisdom to do the right thing with the very real possibility of our airman bobbing around the Pacific unaided as we put the Joint force through the inevitable meat grinder. Semper!

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Yeah, Ukraine and shells. It's the Shell Crisis of 1915 all over again.

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Luckily the Russians have similar issues.

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Why buy the US-2 for $40 mil a pop when it is capable, available, has a proven track history, economical, and multi-mission? Nope, we need a DARPA designed (or endorsed) $300 million gold plated "ready in 2 decades" (hopefully) single use (but gosh the kickbacks in building multiple versions) wet dream of an aircraft.

Flew at Atsugi for 4 years and those flying boats were the coolest thing in the pattern and saw one at Iwo Jima doing practice water rescues. Would look great in medium blue with Insignia Spec 241102-K.

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Jul 17, 2023·edited Jul 17, 2023

Used to live under the approach path to Atsugi and one gorgeous summer evening a US-2 flew over the house - I briefly thought I'd time travelled back to the 1940s and was seeing an H8K "Emily" (never got to see the sole surviving example - it had moved from Tokyo down to remote Kanoya several years before :-(

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Fun fact. Same design team.

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From what my boss told me (he tested the US-1 in 1967), the same chief designer. Rather eccentric fellow, from what I was told.

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Eccentric rather goes with "Land an airplane WHERE?"

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See slide 74 of this presentation: https://wentworthreport.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/Archibald-Ukraine-and-Lessons-for-War-with-China-21st-May-2023.pdf

The Grumman Albatross appeared near the end of WW2. We can't build seaplanes fast enough so build all of them. And yes people will die on the open ocean. Including destroyer crews.

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Wait, they are building HU-16's? Why did I not know of this? I actually have a unicorn ticket, a commercial multi-engine sea ticket earned in a DC-3.

https://www.amphibaircraft.com/g-111t

Oh, wait....no, they are not. They may be able to, and have a (hella obvious) plan to build them with PT-6 engines, but....

A couple decades ago I almost bought a HU-16C, and did some back of envelope numbers crunching to see about putting PT-6's on it...A natural fit, except for one thing: Range decreased massively. To around 1000nm max. Not nothing, but not what a HU-16 could do. A US-2 has around 2900nm range, which is pretty good.

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