Airborne Awesomosity, Military-Grade Awesome

Flying Boats – How The Mighty Have Fallen


Something Looks a Bit Off But You Can’t Quite Figure It Out

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So the end of the line was rapidly approaching for the flying boat but it wasn’t going to go out quietly. The sounds of jets on the water could be heard for miles.



Note The Titled Wings And The High Mounted Engines.

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The US Navy wasn’t ready to give up its role as the premier long distance combat arm of the United States to the upstart US Air Force. So during the nineteen fifties they took every experiment and idea seriously in hopes of being able to displace the newly formed USAF. One example of this was the floatplane variant of the Y-102 Delta Dart known as the Sea Dart.  If you are already working on a waterborne jet fighter the next logical step is to build the bomber for it to escort.



P6M Color

Oddly Proportional For A Seaplane

The easiest way to understand Martin’s monster is to look at it along its USAF contemporary the B-52.  Both show the near perfect aircraft for the role designed. The B-52 was designed for high altitude carpet bombing. It was a World War II way of thinking applied with modern technology. The Stratofortress would be the ultimate expression of brawn over brains when it doubt just drop more ordnance or carry a larger missile. The Martin Seamaster was more of a Naval approach to this issue. Although capable of flying at high altitudes its primary job would be to fly in at low altitude and deliver it’s ordnance, whether mines or bombs, in a far more precise manner.  It’s primary defense would be the speeds in and out of the target. Besides if the Navy’s cards were played right it would be escorted by a flight of supersonic Sea Darts.

 The SeaMaster managed to do a lot of things right. It was capable of nearly supersonic speeds at low altitude. A feat even the mighty B-52 was incapable of. It was so fast they couldn’t design aerial deployed mines that would survive being dropped from those speeds. Further her crews claimed she went supersonic in two shallow dives from 20,000 feet. This hasn’t been proved since the onboard instrumentation wasn’t set to show speeds over Mach 1 accurately. Something you wouldn’t even imagine the B-52 even attempting. For such a large aircraft it was unnaturally comfortable in the transonic region right before the speed of sound. A place that most aircraft start to lose control.  Had the Navy not lost it’s backbone and built a large force of the P6M’s we may still have them around as a contemporary to the B-52.


P6M_SeaMaster -1

The Only Angle Where You Will See The Martin Look Like A Large Flying Boat.


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General characteristics

  • Crew: 4
  • Length: 134 ft 0 in (40.84 m)
  • Wingspan: 102 ft 11 in (31.37 m)
  • Height: 32 ft 5 in (9.88 m)
  • Wing area: 1,900 ft² (180 m²)
  • Empty weight: 91,300 lb (41,400 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 120,000 lb (54,000 kg)
  • Max. takeoff weight: 176,400 lb (80,000 kg)
  • Powerplant: 4 × Pratt & Whitney J75-P-2 turbojets, 17,500 lbf (77.8 kN) each


  • Maximum speed: 550 kt (630 mph, 1,010 km/h)
  • Range: 1,700 nm (2,000 mi, 3,200 km)
  • Service ceiling: 40,000 ft (12,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: ft/min (m/s)
  • Wing loading: 63 lb/ft² (310 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.58


  • Guns: 2× 20 mm cannon in tail turret
  • Bombs: 4,000 lb (1,814 kg)


P6 overhead

A Promotional Shot That Should Have Become Reality


Although it performed the role as it was designed for the Seamaster was built in very limited quantities.. The world had moved on or at least thought it had. By the time the P6M entered service the Navy’s need for a water based bomber had been replaced by ICBM’s and ever larger carriers. The failure of the P6M would also be the last aircraft built by the  Martin company. They saw the light and moved into rockets and still do this work as part of Lockheed Martin. The Seamaster was the right aircraft at the right time but the Navy brass just couldn’t see the future it would have fulfilled.


  • Deartháir

    Welcome back, Fodder. We missed you!

    • We did? I mean…we did!

      /raises glass

    • fodder650

      Let me see if i can make up for lost time. I had some goals to achieve before I came back that Engineered is aware of. I seem to do best when I write a series of articles instead of just solo ones. So I have this idea for one called "The Path To The V-22 Osprey". That I am starting to lay out the outline for.

      • Vairship

        Cool! I'd love to see all those Bell flying machines!

  • jalopjackie

    Woot! Fodder's back! Looking forward to more crazy-plane articles.

    BTW, does the Seamaster still hold the seaplane world speed record?

    • fodder650

      I would imagine that is still held by the Sea Dart which I linked in the article. Although the records for floatplane and flying boat maybe held separate. Since they are so different.

  • skitter

    This article, and lead photo, where it's not even crashing, are AWESOME.

  • Felis_Concolor

    I can only think of one word to comment on this article.


    • fodder650

      Because they didn't build it as a series? I feel the same way.

      • Felis_Concolor

        I'd love to see stuff like this built, as it would open the doors for an "older than dirt" squadron patch for those lucky pilots who fly aircraft older than they into combat.

        • fodder650

          I'll have to find my picture from the Joint Defense Show in Washington DC last year. Among all the latest and greatest hardware was a B-52 with a tail number that started with a "60" denoting it's construction date of 1960. The BUFF was far older then any of her crew.

          • Felis_Concolor

            I still want to obtain a sewing machine with an embroidery function, the better to create a fantasy patch for appreciative fans. For the 471st Azerothian Necromancers, a bone-filled swamp scene surrounded by the slogan, "Don't Run – You're Worth More To Us Dead Than Fled."

  • Toxic Avenger

    Obsolete Aircraft is my favorite subject. Those that are not Obsolete yet, will be some day.