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Questo blog è nato dalla passione per il volo e l'aviazione. AG Italia è una community dedicato agli appassionati, piloti e professionisti del settore.

Grumman HU-16, the "cold war" rescue plane

The Grumman HU-16 Albatross is a large amphibian aircraft built by the Grumman Aircraft Corporation in 1949.

Initially named as SA-16, it operated during the entire Cold War (1947-1991) for SAR and Combat SAR activities in the USAF and US Navy, but it was also used by the US Coast Guard for patrolling and in other many tactical missions as a support for infiltration and exfiltration.

It has been in service from 1949 and 1995, which was the year of his last flight for the Hellenic Navy.

Grumman HU-16B Albatross at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Grumman HU-16B Albatross at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

The SA-16A (later HU-16A) model was heavily used as a search and rescue plane during the Korean War (1950-1953), the conflict between North Korea and South Korea, where the United States and the URSS where involved to claim their own politically and economic interests above the Korean ground.

The HU-16B (picture above) was the model developed and produced for the long range missions in Vietnam war from the 1964 to the 1975.

A black painted SA-16 for the special and tactical missions - @Arsof Story

The HU-16 has been in services for the Search And Rescue for many other countries such as Argentina, Brasil, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy.

In fact, the Italian Air Force received some HU-16 accordingly to the Mutual Defence Assistance Programme, a contract signed in the 1949 between USA and his allied, for the collaboration and mutual protection from the sovietic threat in the Europe and whole world.

Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation

Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation is the company founded in 1929 by Leroy Grumman, a former US Navy pilot, then an engineer active in the welding of aluminum tubes for trucks but also interested to producing aircraft for the US Navy.

To reach his goal, Mr. Grumman, built different prototypes of aircraft floats for seaplanes which was the right move to sign the contract with the US military forces.

Although he gained the contract by the US Navy, he still continued to develop other aircraft for civil aviation. The most famous were the G-21 Goose and the G-22 Gulfhawk both builded from 1936.

During the second world war and the derived post-war depression the Grumman factories still to continue to build airplanes.

The most WWII notables aircraft were the F4F Wildcat and L6F Hellcat.

Thus the heavy production capability of Grumman Corporation was nicknamed as Grumman Ironworks.

A Grumman G-21 Goose built in the 1937

Other famous aircraft builded by Grumman were the A-6 Intruderthe F-14 Tomcat and the surveillance plane E-2 Hawkeye.

In the 1994 the Grumman Aircraft Corporation was acquired by Northrop Corporation. From that fusion born Northrop Grumman.

The Albatrosses received to Italian Air Force (AMI)

From the 1958 the Italian Air Force - Aeronautica Militare Italiana - received some HU-16s from the US Air force, accordingly to the Mutual Assistance Programme.

The HU-16As replaced the old Cant Z.506s used by the SAR of the Italian Air Force based at the Idroscalo in Vigna di Valle on Bracciano Lake, near Rome.

Grumman HU-16 Albatross 15-5 still exposed at the museum of Vigna di Valle, Bracciano.

The Albatrosses of the Air Rescue were the protagonists of many rescue missions in the twenty years of their operational life.

The HU-16A (15-5) in the photo above belonged to the 85th SAR Group of the 15th Storm of Ciampino. It arrived at the Museum landing on Bracciano Lake on his last flight mission in 1978.

We also report an interesting article concerning the case of the demolition of another specimen of Albatros (15-14) received from the United States and left exposed at the Castello di San Pelagio Air Museum until 2013, the year of its destruction:

The Albatross 15-14 demolished in 2013

Technical sheet

Engines (2x)Wright R-1820-76A Cyclone radial 1425 HP
Maximum Takeoff Weight16.193 kg
Empty Weight10.380 kg
Speed380 km/h
Service Ceiling6,306 m
Range4.587 km
Wing Span29,46 m
Wing Area96,2 m²
Length18,67 m
Height7,87 m
Technical data source:

The world record of the Albatross

The HU-16B also set an important milestone for twin-engined amphibious aircraft: it reached an altitude of 32,883 feet. After this record he was withdrawn from service for the USAF. It was July 1973.

Source and references:

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SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo 2021

Luogo evento: Lakeland, Florida

Data: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18 aprile 2021

SUN ‘n FUN – Aerospace Expo

Il SUN ‘n FUN Aerospace Expo è uno dei più grandi eventi annuali di aviazione al mondo. I proventi di questi eventi forniscono finanziamenti per l’Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE).

SUN ‘n FUN Fly-In raccoglie annualmente oltre 2 milioni di dollari per ACE, consentendo la fornitura di programmi e borse di studio relativi a STEM e di educazione aerospaziale.

Info e ticket:

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