by Emmett Smith
Here follow a number of clips from YouTube that show something of the evolution of commercial and military “flying boats” in the 1920s and 1930s. I think you can probably tell that I am most taken by the Iris and the later Martin M-130 China Clipper — they both have that swell “early days” look that lets you know just how up-to-date they really were:
I feel that the Blackburn Iris flying boat is beautiful, period.
This first link is to the first flight of the Iris, 19 June 1926 (the video starts slow, but there is some nice flight footage):
Next is the Short S17 Kent, which has an enclosed cockpit, of all things:
The Martin M-130 China Clipper is perhaps the archetype of the flying boat, at least for twentieth century Americans raised in Protestant heartland Sunday Schools on missionary romance about China:
The photo below shows the Clipper over the Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930s, then just a-building!
Short S23 ‘Canopus’ class Empire flying boats, part 1:
The ‘Maia’-‘Mercury’ piggyback long-range experiments in 1937 and 1938 are really hair-raising to see:
The Boeing 341 Clipper was the apotheosis of American commercial seaplane design. This is too bad of course because, really, properly designed jet seaplanes would have more options in case everything went to Hell on any long distance flights over water. With proper attention to wing re-design — to allow gliding on extended surfaces to a water landing — the pilots (and passengers!) would definitely have more choices in an emergency:
This brings the flying boat story to World War II, the British and German, American and Japanese military amphibians, and then to post-war giants such as the Martin Mariner, the Saro Princess flying boat and Howard Hughes’s “Spruce Goose.” Again, in a main theme as demonstrated by the scenes in the historical transportation pp of Bodwyn Wook…
…all of these indeed are images of “world travel in the modern manner,” in the now-long ago late-modern age that ended in 1989, at the early close of the short (1914-1989) twentieth century.
[Emmett R Smith all text-rights reserved 27 January 2009]