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Grumman HU-16 Albatross

Flying Boat / Utility Transport Aircraft

Grumman HU-16 Albatross

Flying Boat / Utility Transport Aircraft


The Grumman HU-16 Albatross served as both a transport and a search-and-rescue aircraft for the United States.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: United States
YEAR: 1949
MANUFACTURER(S): Grumman Aircraft - USA
OPERATORS: Argentina; Brazil; Canada; Chile; West Germany; Greece; Iceland; Indonesia; Italy; Japan; Malaysia; Mexico; Norway; Pakistan; Peru; Philippines; Portugal; Spain; Taiwan; Thailand; United States

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Grumman HU-16A/B Albatross model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 61.02 feet (18.6 meters)
WIDTH: 97.05 feet (29.58 meters)
HEIGHT: 26.02 feet (7.93 meters)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 31,747 pounds (14,400 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x Wright R-1820-76A Cyclone 8-cylinder radial piston engines developing 1,475 horsepower each.
SPEED (MAX): 235 miles-per-hour (379 kilometers-per-hour; 205 knots)
RANGE: 3,199 miles (5,148 kilometers; 2,780 nautical miles)
CEILING: 25,016 feet (7,625 meters; 4.74 miles)


Series Model Variants
• HU-16 "Albatross" - Base Series Designation
• XJR2F-1 - Prototype for of which two were produced
• HU-16A (SA-16A) - Initial USAF production model
• HU-16B (SA-16B) - Long-wing USAF model
• SHU-16B (HU-16B) - Export-minded ASW variant
• HU-16C (UF-1) - U.S. Navy model
• LU-16C (UF-1L) - U.S. Navy Model
• TU-16C (UF-1T) - U.S. Navy Model
• HU-16D (UF-1) - Long-wing U.S. Navy model
• HU-16E (UF-1G) - Long-wing USCG model
• CSR-110 - Canadian Air Force model


Detailing the development and operational history of the Grumman HU-16 Albatross Flying Boat / Utility Transport Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 1/19/2017. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
Even after World War 2 (1939-1945) the flying boat remained a key component of world military forces. Grumman, a long-time fighter producer for the United States Navy, sold various services on its new HU-16 "Albatross" flying boat where it went on to see a considerable career in the Search And Rescue (SAR) role. The USAF, USMC, USN and USCG all made use of the type which saw production span from 1949 until 1961 and 466 total units delivered. First flight was had on October 24th, 1947 with service introduction coming in 1949 (as the "SA-16").

Shortly after World War 2, the Grumman G-73 "Mallard" was introduced as an amphibious type sporting two engines and a high-wing appearance. Some 59 of the kind were built and produced into 1951. With this groundwork in place, the design was evolved into an improved form which, in essence, became the Albatross product. A boat-like hull was used as was a high-wing design approach. A single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes made up the tail unit. Unlike the Mallard, the Albatross was specifically designed from the outset to operate in deeper, rougher waters.

The prototype model, of which two were built, was designated XJR2F-1 and led to the initial production version of the USAF, the HU-16A (originally as SA-16A). Indonesia also took on a stock of this model. A longer wing greeted the HU-16B variant (appearing as the SA-16B) and the SHU-16B, an Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) variant for export was also formed from this mark. The U.S. Navy began their commitment to the line through the HU-16C (UF-1) and this led to the LU-16C (UF-1L) and TU-16C (UF-1T) models eventually. The long-wing version was HU-16D and this was also delivered to West German forces. The USCG made use of the HU-16E (UF-1G) which also made use of the long wing as did the USAF. The G-111 (SA-16A) was a standard formed from the earlier USAF and export models. The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) operated the aircraft under the CSR-110 designation.

Beyond these operators, the Albatross also existed with the forces of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Greece, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and others (see variants listing for full showcase). it saw extended service lives in private hands and civilian operations.

The Albatross was already in the USAF inventory by the time of the Korean War (1950-1953) and pressed into service for the SAR role. It was during this period that the series proved its initial worth in the rescue of countless downed airmen and this operational support continued into the Vietnam War (1955-1975) days. Some special forces elements were also inserted/extracted by way of Albatross aircraft, their amphibious capabilities and long range proving key qualities in their success.

The last Albatross was retired with the Greek Navy in 1995, bringing an end to decades of faithful and reliable service. Many examples have ended their days as preserved museum showpieces, primarily in the United States.

As completed, the HU-16 (HU-16B) featured a typical operating crew of four to six personnel with the capacity to carry as many as 10 passengers if equipped for the role. Power was served through 2 x Wright R-1820-76 series "Cyclone" 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engines of 1,425 horsepower each. Maximum listed speed was 235 miles per hour with a cruising speed nearing 125 miles per hour. Range was out to 2,850 miles and its service ceiling reached 21,500 feet. Rate-of-climb was reported at 1,450 feet per minute.


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: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (235mph).

Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Grumman HU-16A/B Albatross'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 (466)
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
In the Cockpit...
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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