Aviation Historian 1
American Classics
In 1925 the US Navy ordered five Loening OL-2s, identical to the US Army’s COA-1s, powered by a 440 h.p. Packard 1A-1500 engine. This led to a series of OL orders, including 20 two-seat OL-8s (like A-8979 seen here), powered by a 450 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R-1340. Despite its somewhat ungainly appearance, the OL-8 was a good, rugged performer.
Of the forty-eight original 139s ordered, thirty-two were fitted with supercharged Pratt & Whitney Hornets and designated YB-12. The YB-12A illustrated carried extra fuel tanks.
As the US Army Air Corps began to extend its sphere of influence, it became aware that airfields across the globe may be few and far between, leading to a series of experiments whereby land-based aircraft would be fitted with floats. One example was this Martin YB-12 modified to mount huge Edo floats for extensive testing. On August 24, 1935, the aircraft set a new seaplane record at an average speed of 160·1 m.p.h. (257·7km/h) over a 2,000km (1,245-mile) course.
After working for Grover Loening as a test pilot, designer and ultimately General Manager, Leroy Grumman went on to establish his own company in 1930. Grumman’s first amphibian was the XJ-1 of 1933 and the Loening influence was clear. This design would develop into numerous variants; and production of the Duck, as it came to be known, continued until the end of World War Two. The first production aircraft was the 700 h.p. Twin Wasp-powered JF-1, 27 of which were built. It was an excellent fit for the US Coast Guard, which acquired 15 JF-2s powered by the 750 h.p. Wright R-1820-12 Cyclone. This JF-2, serial V148, was photographed on patrol near Seattle, Washington.
Based on the Army’s PT-1 landplane of 1924 (Consolidated’s first homegrown design), the navalised NY-1 was an attempt by the US Navy to modernise its fleet of trainers. In seaplane configuration, however, the aircraft was a poor performer, forcing Consolidated to develop the NY-2 of 1926. The greatly improved machine incorporated increased wingspan and a 220 h.p. Wright R-760. The Navy was impressed and ordered 186 NY-2s (including A7463, as seen here). In 1929, Lt James H. Doolittle used an NY-2 for the first blind-flying demonstration in the USA.
The Flying Life Boat was the last aircraft built by the American Fokker Corporation, which became a division of the General Aviation Manufacturing Corporation in 1930. Five of these attractive machines were built, all powered by a pair of 420 h.p. Pratt & Whitney R-1340 Wasps in pusher configuration. Unusually, there was no military designation for the type; it simply became the FLB in US Coast Guard service.