Grumman Albatross

USA - 1947

The development of the amphibious Albatross was begun from the Grumman in the final phase of the Second world war, as logic evolution of his precedents Goose and Widgeon; the airplane that resulted from there it was quite a lot greater than the predecessors, also preserving the lines of it general. The prototype, designated XRJ2F - 1, was flewn October 24 th 1947. During the development phase was decided to employ it for performs antisom missions as PF 1A, but after short was ordered as UF-l for transport and general assignments and, with varied designations, for different assignments. The Albatross entered in service in the USAF, that appreciated its versatility of it and ordered it as 16A for search and rescue, assignment in which showed great performances. Refinements to the project brought toward half the fifties to the versions SA-l6B and UF 2, with increased wing span enlarged tail and other changes. Subsequently a lot of units of the first series were brought to this standard and the airplane was exported in various nations, including Italy. In 1962 the SA-16A were redesigned as lU 16A, SA-l6B became I-lU 165, the UFs 1, HU-160 and UF-2, UN 16D. Besides the basic types destined to performs SAR tasks, Grumman also developed an antisubmarine version, with radar in the nose, search lighthouse, retractable MAD pole in tail and specific armament, including torpedoes and sonobuoys. The greatest part (if not all) of Albatross for antisubmarine tasks was constituted from modified HU 165, that also maintained their designation after the transformation.


Accomplishment of the missions of rescue in the sea, during the Second World War I, had delimited the necessity of the development of an aircraft of bigger capacity,  more reliable and that it was in conditions to operate both in land and in sea. During the Second World War, the small Grumman J4F-2 Goose, that entered in operation in 1937, and the venerable Consolidated PBY Catalina, are able to carry out such mission, with the exception of that were not aircraft specialized for that. In April of 1944, the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, of the United States, which withheld experience in the manufacture of amphibious aircraft  since years 30, basically due to the production of the single-engine airplane JF-1 Duck, initiated the development of a bigger transport, in order to fulfill the requirement of an aircraft aimed to specific missions of search and rescue in open sea, with the intention to substitute the airplanes used until then. Thus, it was born the new amphibious airplane, assigned by Grumman the designation G-64 model and nicknamed Albatross. The first prototype, registered XJR2F-1, performed its maiden flight on October, 24 1947, occasion that already demonstrated its qualities and the certainty of that it would have a great success. Immediately, the newly created USAF (North American Air Force) and the U.S. Navy (US Navy) ordered lots of the aircraft, for the accomplishment of its specific missions of SAR (Search and Rescue), where all the experience acquired in the Second World War would be employed. The Albatross received the military assignment SA-16A by the USAF, UF-1 by the U.S. Navy and UF-1G by the U.S. Coast Guard (North American Coastal Guard), which incorporated 46 aircraft of the model in March of 1952. In the beginning of its operation, the Albatross kept the "original nose", with no sensor. The production of years 50 already incorporated the search radar AN/APS-31 whose radome was placed in the nose of the aircraft. In this period, all the aircraft  in operation received such equipment, becoming a definitive characteristic of the aircraft.

The necessities to introduce some innovations, originated of the operation of the aircraft over one decade, had determined the launching of one second version of the Albatross, in 1956, that was an improvement over the SA-16A. Such model possessed an increased wingspan, a vertical stabilizer with greater area, and the horizontal stabilizer was extended. The first prototype of this aircraft, assigned SA-16B  performed its maiden flight on January, 15 1956. A model "B" derivative was launched in the anti-submarine role, which was named HU-16B/ASW, having carried its first flight in May 1961. Such version was equipped with an enormous search radar  in the nose AN/APS-88 and a detector of magnetic anomalies - DAM, in the tail, as well as some provisions for the use of armaments, which included torpedoes, rockets and bombs of depth. Version ASW was used by Chile, Spain, United States, Greece, Norway, Peru and Thailand. Beyond the missions for which he was projected, the Albatross, due to its enormous versatility, was used in innumerable singular tasks, as the use in the ice, in the called operation of "Deep Freeze", when the same it participated of the exploration of the Antarctic Continent, with the incorporation of called skids of "Triphibian Kit". The Albatross participated of two great conflicts: the War of Korea, 1950 to 1953, and during most of the War of the Vietnam, in the decades of 60 and 70, where it operated as a true angel of the guard of the abated crews in combat on the forest and, mainly, in the Gulf of Tonkin. Locking up a heroic time, in the end of years 80, the Albatross was removed of the military service. However, some modified aircraft still continue to fly in civil activities, mainly, in the innumerable Caribbean Islands and the United States.

SA-16 in Força Aérea Brasileira (Brazilian Air Force, FAB)

The great territorial dimensions of Brazil, as well as the enormous coast and adjacent international waters led the Brazilian government to take over the responsibility for safeguards of the ships and the aircraft that cross the Atlantic ocean. The Brazilian Air Force began to provide service of search and rescue in this strategical area according to international agreements. In the 50s, such task already was precariously carried through by the four Boeing SB-17G Flying Fortress, based in Recife, and by the Consolidated PBY Catalina, which operated from Belém. Thus, the necessity of activation of a specialized aerial unit led the FAB to create, trough the Act # 60/GM2, of  December, 6 1957,  the Squadron of the Tenth Group of Aviation - 2º/10º GAV, that would be based in the Air base of São Paulo - BASP, in Cumbica. In order to equip the new Squadron, two types of aircraft had been chosen: the amphibian Grumman SA-16 Albatross, which would perform the searches and the helicopter Sikorsky H-19D, designated to the rescue operations. The initial training of the crews was carried out in the United States and in  the middle 1958, the new Unit  was already ready to begin operations. A total of 14 airplanes Grumman Albatross had been acquired by the FAB (ex-USAF aircraft) for the unitary price of CR$ 31.274.352,00. These aircraft had received the SA-16 assignment.

The Sa-16 had been based in Cumbica from 1958 to January 1972, when 2º/10º GAV was transferred to the Air base of Florianópolis - BAFL, where they had operated until its deactivation in the FAB in August of 1980.

S-16 6534, 2º/10º GAV
SA-16A 6537, 2º/10º GAV (1958-1959)

M-16 6530, 2º/10º GAV

SA-16 6528, 2º/10º GAV

M-16 6530, 2º/10º GAV (1959-1964)

SA-166528, 2º/10º GAV (1964-1970)

S-16 6534, 2º/10º GAV

S-16 6534, 2º/10º GAV (1970-1980)

Data (HU-16B)




Albatross, Goat


Utility, SAR
Specifications (below are for HU-16B)


62' 10"


25' 10"


96' 8"



Gross Weight:

36,000 lbs
Propulsion (below are for HU-16B)

No. of Engines:



Wright R-1820

Horsepower (each):

1,425 hp
Performance (below are for HU-16B)


1,650 miles

Cruise speed:

165 mph

Max speed:

250 mph


22,000 ft





Please note that all information is provided without any guarantees