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The terms “floatplane” and “seaplane” are used interchangeably in some countries, but technically have different meanings. Both a floatplane and a seaplane can takeoff from, and land on, water such as oceans, seas, rivers, and gulfs. Both can transport people or supplies. A floatplane is technically a type of seaplane.

A Flying Boat Seaplane is built around a single hull which serves as the plane’s floating body/fuselage. A flying boat takes off from and lands on its belly. The term flying boat is less common as of late but is still referenced in official documentation and definitions. Often when people say seaplane, they mean flying boat.

On the other hand, a floatplane is also referred to as a "pontoon plane." Instead of a hull that can land on water, a floatplane has floats or pontoons which serve as the surfaces to land on and take off from, as is the case for the Viking Twin Otter when it has float landing gear in place. The hull/body/fuselage of a floatplane is not intended to touch the water.

Over the century of hydroaviation development in Russia, world-famous aircraft have been developed, the characteristics of which are confirmed by dozens of world records. Their creation has secured the country leadership in the field of seaplane building. Today in Russia, modern amphibious aircraft are being developed, the equipment for which is also being developed at Rostec enterprises.

Hydroaviation originated at the beginning of the 20th century. For several decades, seaplanes had gone from plywood float aircraft to a reliable vehicle. The use of hydroaviation in Russia in the 20th century began on the initiative of the Marine General Staff of Russia. The sailors put a lot of effort into preparing aviators, acquiring new seaplanes, and organizing their construction in Russia. It is believed that precisely because of this, in the country the process of movement of aircraft is called aeronautics, the sky is the fifth ocean, and aviation itself is called an air fleet, which uses such marine terms as “navigator” and “steering wheel”.

The idea of an aircraft carrier was first expressed by a Russian engineer, captain of the corps of engineers of the fleet Lev Macievich. Back in 1909, Macievich wrote a memorandum to the Main Naval Headquarters, in which he proposed to develop the design of an aircraft carrier, a hydroplane and a special catapult that allows military aircraft to be launched straight from the deck.

With no less reason the birthday of the hydroplane fleet can be considered an even earlier date - September 16, 1910, when in Sevastopol, in the conditions of the fleet, the Antoinet airplane piloted by Lieutenant Stanislav Dorozhinsky first flew into the air. A week later, on September 22, 1910, the Blerio-HP aircraft for the first time in Russia flew over the sea from St. Petersburg to Kronstadt.

The great aircraft designer and aviator Igor Sikorsky is considered the founder of the Russian hydroaviation, who for the first time in the world was able to lift into the air the Russian Knight, a two-engined aircraft, and the four-engined Ilya Muromets. The hydroaviation in Russia appeared in 1911 - and at first seaplanes were purchased abroad. However, then the famous Russian designers Vladimir Lebedev and Dmitry Grigorovich developed several prototypes of flying boats. The first domestic hydroplane was launched on August 6, 1912 on Vasilyevsky Island in St. Petersburg. This date is indicated as the birthday of Russian naval aviation.

Dmitry Pavlovich Grigorovich worked in a sugar factory, and served in the quartermaster of the military department, and also published his own journal "Bulletin of aeronautics." In 1912, Grigorovich, who received an engineering education, became the technical director of the plant of the First Russian Aeronautical Association S.S. Schetinin and K, and in 1913 createed the M-1 flying boat - the world's first seaplane, which successfully participated in the Great War. For the first seaplane followed by other, more advanced. It is believed that the Russian double seaplane M-5, designed by Grigorovich, exceeded foreign analogues in a number of characteristics.

In the significant battle of 17 July 1916, four M-9 planes of Grigorovich design took part. These aircraft were based on the first Russian aircraft carrier "Orlitsa" (in fact, it was a cargo and passenger ship, converted in 1915 into an aircraft carrier). Seaplanes "Orlitsy" conducted reconnaissance, and could also open machine-gun fire and drop bombs.

At the end of the war, D.P.Grigorovich successfully installed a four-engined 'Ilya Muromets', a four-engined giant aircraft designed by I. I. Sikorsky, on the floats. As a training seaplane, the M-5 flew until 1921. Many Soviet land and sea pilots passed a piloting school there. The aircraft fleet of the national hydroaviation at the beginning of 1918 was 98 vehicles on the Baltic Fleet, and 112 on the Black Sea in 1918. The People's Commissariat for Military Affairs of the RSFSR in 1918 developed a special program for the construction of 138 hydroplanes. For refusal to submit to the national control, the aircraft factories of Shchetinin, Antra, Slyusarenko, Dux and others were nationalized.

Russian naval aviation became one of the main forces of the fleet. When Vladimir Lenin came to power, he personally ordered the establishment of a commissioner position in the management of naval aviation and aeronautics. The first commissar was Andrei Pavlovich Onufriev, who was later appointed deputy chief of the Main Directorate of the Military Air Fleet. For the development of naval aviation, the Soviet government wrote enormous funds - so in 1922, state leaders allocated 35 million rubles for the restoration and creation of aircraft factories and design offices. The aircraft designers and engineers faced a difficult task - “to create a large ocean fleet worthy of the great Soviet power.” The Soviet state, despite the civil war, devastation and lack of funds, appropriated in 1920 for aircraft construction and supply of naval aviation 130.5 million rubles. Naval aerodromes and naval aviation schools were established in Oranienbaum, Peterhof, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Nikolaev and Odessa.

In the second half of the 1920s, Russian hydroaviation was in a severe crisis. The fleets practically lacked modern seaplanes. In the Baltic, mainly German U-20 float boats, produced at the Junkers plant, and on the Black Sea, rather outdated Savoya C-16bis flying boats, were used on the Baltic Sea. These machines had an insufficient range, were poorly armed, and heavily worn out. The fleet was essentially blind, not presenting the situation off the coast of potential adversaries. A new long-range reconnaissance aircraft was needed that would be able to work in the open sea. But the prospects for its creation in domestic factories had not yet emerged.

at the beginning of August 1925, the Air Force Command (which then included fleet aviation) appealed to the Soviet Embassy in Germany with a request to “probe” how the Dornier Metallobuten company would react to the proposal to sell our country 20 "Whale". According to the contract signed on April 22, 1927, Do-J "Whale" flying boats planned to take two series of 10 pieces. In 1935, mass production of fully domestic MBR-2 seaplanes began in Taganrog, which soon displaced both the Far East and MBR-4. By the end of 1936, not a single Whale was left in the ranks of the Red Army air force.

Along with land-based aircraft, the Soviet Union in the 1930s built and tested seaplanes. One after another, the domestic aircraft design MP-1, ROM-1, MP-5, POM-1, TB-1a, MDR-3, MBR-2, KOR-1 appeared. In 1932 a light amphibious aircraft W-2 was launched into the series by VB Shavrov , mass-produced a larger aircraft - a flying boat MBR-2 and ship scouts KOR-1 and KOR-2 G.M. Beriev. In the design office of A.N. Tupolev was designed by large military seaplanes - flying boats MDR-2 (ANT-8), two-boat catamaran MK-1 (ANT-22) and sea heavy bomber MTB-2. Under the leadership of I.V. ChetverikovARC-3 and MDR-6 (Che-2) seaplanes were built. For the development of the Northern Sea Route, a group of Leningrad designers in the Civil Air Fleet (GVF) system designed a seaplane ASC (amphibian of the northern edge), a group of designers at the GVF Research Institute under the guidance of R.L. Bartini - DAR seaplane (distant arctic reconnaissance).

A significant contribution to the development of hydroaviation was made by aviation engineer and historian Vadim Shavrov. The first Soviet serial amphibious aircraft W-2, which was operated until the mid-1960s, became very popular. Another prominent Soviet designer, Georgy Beriev, played a major role in the development of hydroaviation. His first wooden seaplane MBR-2 took off in May 1932 and was very successful.

In the Great Patriotic War, naval aviation was the first to pave the way to victory, striking at Berlin on the night of August 8, 1941. Aviators of the 1st Mine-Torpedo Air Regiment of the Red Banner Baltic Fleet carried out a bomb drop on the well-lit capital of the Third Reich - and the Germans who did not expect a strike could not turn on blackout for a full 40 seconds. “As a result of the bombing, there were fires and explosions were observed. All our airplanes returned to their bases without losses,” the Soviet Information Bureau then notified. Invaluable was the contribution of hydroaviation during the Great Patriotic War. The main aircraft of the naval aviation MBR-317, MDR-301, KOR-3, Che-2, MTB-2, GTS and others made a significant contribution to the cause of the Great Victory.

Andrey Nikolaevich Tupolev made a great contribution to the Russian hydroaviation. Along with the creation of land planes, TsAGI carried out work on the design of seaplanes (1930 - ANT-8; 1934 - ANT-22, ANT-27). The last seaplane designed in the design bureau of Tupolev was the ANT-44 sea flying boat (tested in 1937).

In the Central Design Bureau of Naval Aircraft, which was headed by Beriev, they created the Be-6 twin-engine flying boat, the Flying Taxi, the Be-8 amphibious aircraft and the 35-tonne Be-12, setting 42 world records. In 1983, the design bureau developed the famous A-40 “Albatross” amphibious jet aircraft, on which 148 world records were set. On its basis, the Be-200 was created - one of the most unusual and multi-purpose aircraft.

Domestic hydroaviation developed in the postwar years as well, experiencing a revolutionary transition from reciprocating engines to jet engines. At numerous exhibitions and international air shows, the Be-200, A-40 'Albatross' amphibious aircraft and other Soviet heavy and middle-class amphibious aircraft were admired. Alas, Russia - the great maritime state - in the turmoil of land affairs did not pay enough attention to the rising hydroaviation of the small class and did not find the means to support it.

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Page last modified: 04-11-2018 17:41:27 ZULU