The flying boat played a crucial role in all theaters of operation during World War 2 (1939-1945) as the type offered excellent operational ranges and the inherent ability to land and take-off from water. Providing the needed loitering time and "eyes-in-the-skies" for ground-based commanders and warplanners alike, these machines gave particularly valuable service throughout the conflict. Supermarine, mostly remembered for its contribution of the classic "Spitfire" fighter o fth ewar years, also proved itself a capable flying-boat-maker as well and delivered, for the British and others, a steady stable of such aircraft - many of which saw considerable action during the Second World War.
One of these contributions became the Supermarine "Walrus", the design originating as a private venture by the company and set against a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) requirement for a relatively compact flying boat capable of support from existing Australian naval cruisers. Work on the design, led by R.J. Mitchell, began in 1930 and a flyable prototype was available by 1933. A first-flight was recorded on June 21st of that year and series introduction was had in 1935.
An amphibious quality was built into the design which allowed the aircraft to use prepared runaways as needed.
The aircraft was originally known by the name of "Seagull" and this encompassed the original Seagull V production model and its all-metal hull (34 examples were completed). Then came the Walrus Mk.I which retained the metal hull and this was followed by the Walrus Mk.II model and its more economical wooden hull.
The basic design incorporated a raised biplane wing arrangement and this was sat over the dorsal spine of the fuselage. A single engine was fitted between the two planes and over the spine to keep it as far away from water spray as possible. Furthermore, the engine, Bristol Pegasus V1 radial type, was set in a pusher configuration - the propeller unit seated behind the engine nacelle. The cockpit was of stepped form and positioned aft of the short nose assembly yet ahead of the mainplanes. The hull was designed with a boat-like shape so as to better adhere to water landings and take-offs. The fuselage tapered to the rear and was capped by a single, rounded vertical tailfin with high-mounted horizontal planes adding the necessary control. Main landing gear members were wheeled and positioned along the sides of the hull while a small leg was set under the tail.
Dimensionally the aircraft exhibited a length of 37.6 feet with a wingspan of 45.9 feet and a height of 15.2 feet. Empty weight was 5,000lb against a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 8,050lb. Power was from 1 x Bristol Pegasus VI series air-cooled radial piston engine developing 680 horsepower. Maximum speeds reached 135 miles per hour with a range out to 600 miles and a service ceiling up to 18,500 feet. Rate-of-climb was 1,050 feet-per-minute.
Internally, there was a typical operating crew of three to four. Armament included two to three 7.7mm Vickers K machine guns. The bombload totaled 6,100lb of drop ordnance which could be a mix of conventional drop bombs or depth charges.
The Australian Air Force was the first to receive the Seagull / Walrus in useful numbers and this took place in 1935 and the last was delivered in 1937. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) followed as an operator in 1936. Both countries fielded the type from active warships heading into the war.
When World War 2 began in September of 1939, the Walrus series was already an entrenched asset for the British and Commonwealth forces. As such it was immediately placed into direct action and undertook various roles such as maritime reconnaissance, artillery spotting and Search and Rescue (SAR). Walrus aircraft operated in all of the major theaters of the war, such was its versatility. Production spanned from 1936 until 1944 and some 740 total aircraft were produced during that time.
Beyond its wartime service, the Walrus continued flying into the post-war period. The global list of operators included Argentina (military, post-war), Australia (military, civilian), Canada (military, civilian), Egypt (military), France (military, navy), Ireland (Air Corps), Netherlands (civilian), New Zealand (military), Norway (civilian), the Soviet Union (Naval Aviation), Turkey (military, Air Force) and the United Kingdom (military, civilian).
Argentina; Australia; Canada; Egypt; France; Ireland; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Soviet Union; Turkey; United Kingdom
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Special-Mission: Search & Rescue (SAR)
Ability to locate and extract personnel from areas of potential harm or peril (i.e. downed airmen in the sea).
✓Maritime / Navy
Land-based or shipborne capability for operating over-water in various maritime-related roles while supported by allied naval surface elements.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
37.6 ft (11.45 m)
45.9 ft (14.00 m)
15.1 ft (4.60 m)
4,894 lb (2,220 kg)
8,047 lb (3,650 kg)
+3,153 lb (+1,430 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Supermarine Walrus Mk.II production variant)
1 x Bristol Pegasus V1 9-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine developing 775 horsepower driving four-bladed propeller unit in pusher configuration.
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