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Seaplane Fighter / Flying Boat Fighter / Interceptor


Seaplane Fighter / Flying Boat Fighter / Interceptor


The CONVAIR Skate was a radical American ocean-borne fighter proposal of the Cold War featuring a boat-like hull with fighter-type airborne qualities.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1949
STATUS: Cancelled
OPERATORS: United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the CONVAIR Skate model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 83.66 feet (25.5 meters)
WIDTH: 62.50 feet (19.05 meters)
HEIGHT: 18.27 feet (5.57 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 61,068 pounds (27,700 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 92,374 pounds (41,900 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Westinghouse XJ40-WE-10 turbojet engines developing 11,750 lb thrust each with afterburner.
SPEED (MAX): 702 miles-per-hour (1,130 kilometers-per-hour; 610 knots)
RANGE: 646 miles (1,040 kilometers; 562 nautical miles)
CEILING: 52,493 feet (16,000 meters; 9.94 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 22,800 feet-per-minute (6,949 meters-per-minute)

2 OR 4 x 20mm fixed, forward-firing cannons in wings, outboard of engine installations.

30 x 5" aerial rockets.
Graphical image of an aircrat automatic cannon
Graphical image of aircraft aerial rockets

Series Model Variants
• "Skate" - Base Product Designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the CONVAIR Skate Seaplane Fighter / Flying Boat Fighter / Interceptor.  Entry last updated on 11/2/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
With advances being made in turbojet technology - and aeronautics in general - during the latter part of the 1940s, the United States Navy (USN) began entertaining more radical aircraft designs to help fulfill possible future battlefield roles. One such role became the "flying boat fighter" or "Seaplane Fighter", a fighter-type aircraft designed with a boat-like hull/fuselage to allow for take-off and landing from water sources while retaining fighter-minded combat capabilities. Several nations delved into this type of aircraft including the British but there proved few viable candidates adopted for serial production. The Soviet Union managed several of its "Ekranoplan" jet-powered "Ground Effect Vehicles" (GEVs) during this period as well.

The concept of a seaplane / flying boat fighter was an interesting one as it allowed operational access to nearly any part of the globe where these aircraft types could be stationed. The aircraft would be tended to by accompanying naval vessels (such as seaplane tenders) and outfitted appropriately with fuel and armament to fit the mission need. Taking off and being recovered from water while supply fight-like performance added a tactical advantage.

During June of 1948, the USN put together the qualities it sought for in a single-seat seaplane fighter (drawings showcased the pilot seated in a traditional fashion or taking a prone position) and these qualities were quickly revised in a second specification to a two-seat platform with considerably larger dimensions by fighter standards. Maximum speed was in the 630 miles per hour range with operating altitudes at or above the 35,000 foot mark. Despite over a dozen of the usual American defense contractors solicited, only Curtiss-Wright and Convair responded with a formal design proposal.

Convair managed to lend its name to a variety of iconic Cold War American aircraft including the massive B-36 "Peacekeeper" jet-powered strategic heavy bomber, the B-58 "Hustler" supersonic jet bomber, and the F-102/F-106 jet-powered interceptors. Its design proposal for what became USN specification "OS-116" was the "Skate" and realized as a long-shot for serial production work. Nevertheless, the requirement was intriguing and competition for the product was relatively limited by Cold War standards.

CONVAIR engineers returned with a sleek-looking large fighter boat design featuring swept wing mainplanes (40-degree angles), a near "T-style" tail unit and smooth hull/fuselage. The cockpit was set ahead of the wings and aft of a short nosecone intended to house an AN/APQ-35 series radar. The aircraft was to seat two with the pilot's position offset to portside from centerline and the radar operator's position lower and to the right of the pilot. The wing mainplanes were mid-mounted and benefitted water-taxiing actions some and a rudder was also fitted under the fuselage for the same reason. The intakes were located well-forward in the design along the upper hull to either side of the cockpit to help reduce the chance that the engines could take in water. The tailplane sported all-moving surfaces and were high-mounted along the dorsal tail fin. Dimensions included a length of 83 feet and a wingspan of 63.5 feet.

Propulsion would come from 2 x Westinghouse XJ40-WE-10 afterburning turbojets each developing upwards of 7,920 lb thrust. With afterburner engaged, this output increased to 11,750 lb of thrust each. Estimated performance figures by CONVAIR engineers included a maximum airspeed of 713 miles per hour, service ceiling of 52,500 feet, and a rate-of-climb of 22,800 feet per minute. Combat range was out to 460 miles.

Proposed standard armament was 2 to 4 x 20mm cannons seated within the wings and outboard of the engine installations. Sources also indicate an ability to mount 30 x 5" aerial rockets as well. There was no bomb-carrying element revealed.

USN authorities reviewed the CONVAIR submission and found it adequate for its requirements though the design was not furthered beyond some artist impressions and design spec drawings. As such, the flying boat / seaplane fighter continued to be nothing more than a novel concept in the minds of Cold War-era warplanners. However, all was not lost for, in 1953, the CONVAIR F2Y "Sea Dart" seaplane fighter took shape and managed a maiden flight for the USN. Five of these were completed (though only in prototype form) and marked the first seaplane aircraft to ever exceed the speed of sound.

Presented performance values for the Skate below are solely CONVAIR company estimates.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (702mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the CONVAIR Skate's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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