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Float Planes with wooden floats

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  • backflip01
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Oct 2013
    • 16

    Float Planes with wooden floats

    Does anyone know if any floatplanes used wooden floats or have they always been of a metal construction?
  • R6915
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Jan 2013
    • 141

    #2
    The early Supermarine Schneider Trophy entries are likely to be wooden. This is because many of the workers were originally from the south coast boat yards. The boat building industry depended upon good woodworking skills. But I do not know where to gain confirmation of this comment relating to Supermarine, so help please! However Arthur Shervall is credited with the design of the met al floats for the S5 and S6 series ( and the Spitfire float planes floats later on, except for the early 1940 conversion done at Folland's factory when Blackburn Roc floats were fitted to one Mark l ) . Shervall was a member of the drawing office staff at Supermarine's Southampton, Woolston, works.

    The Hurricane float plane in early 1940 also seems likely to be metal but poor photos are my only evidence and these too are supposed to be of Blackburn Roc origin. Neither the Hurricane (presumably a Mark l) or the Spitfire Mark l float plane aircraft were flown, although the Spitfire was floated on the river at Hamble adjacent to Follands works and then converted back to a conventional undercarriage. Confirmation on the Roc floats being metal would be useful but still does not answer the original question.

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    • backflip01
      Rank 5 Registered User
      • Oct 2013
      • 16

      #3
      Thank you very much for your comprehensive response R6915. Do you think that any large aircraft like the Sunderland etc may have used wooden floats ??

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      • DragonRapide
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Jun 2007
        • 1005

        #4
        Pretty sure that the wing floats on the Sunderland are metal - certainly the ones on the Mk5 at Duxford are.
        Listening out for something interesting approaching...

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        • J Boyle
          With malice towards none
          • Oct 2004
          • 9727

          #5
          Good question.
          Floats became metal long before the aircraft that used them did...
          Earl Dodge Osborn, started the EDO aircraft company in 1925 and pioneered the metal float busines. I don't think he was the first person to think of metal floats, but his firm became the leaders in them. Edo floats were soon the standard units in various bush plane types in the U.S., and more importantly, Canada.
          So, any float made past 1930 was likely metal. EDO made the huge amphibious floats used on a few C-47s. A friend has a set of "straight" (non amphibious) floats on his Super Cub. Extremely light but very durable, and surprisingly complex. Much more to them than you might expect.

          EDO diversified in the war into sub-assemblies and eventually became the defensive and electronics conglomerate it is today.

          Edo floats are still made today, the float business was bought by Kenmore of Seattle, famous for its restoration and modification work on DHC Beavers.
          Last edited by J Boyle; 10th January 2019, 20:11.
          There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

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          • wieesso
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • Aug 2006
            • 1862

            #6
            One example is the Thomas-Morse S-4C on wooden pontoons

            and the Caproni CA 100 with its original wooden floats Click image for larger version  Name:	https%3A%2F%2Fs3-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com%2Fhtsi-ez-prod%2Fez%2Fimages%2F1%2F9%2F1%2F9%2F79191-1-eng-GB%2F0ca3f8e5-e1a4-40e5-a429-a30d89932037.jpg?width=620&format=jpg&dpr=2&source=htsi.jpg Views:	1 Size:	214.7 KB ID:	3846254
            and the Aeromarine 39A https://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contr...aker/12428.htm

            Martin
            Last edited by wieesso; 10th January 2019, 17:21.

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            • cabbage
              Rank 5 Registered User
              • Jun 2011
              • 302

              #7
              Suely most if not all WW1 float planes etc. (eg. Sopwith Baby) would have had wooden floats, along with the flying boats of that period.

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              • Schneiderman
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Jan 2008
                • 797

                #8
                In Britain wooden floats were the norm until the mid 1920s. Short Bros pioneered metal floats from 1920 onwards but the rest of the industry only took this onboard after the Air Ministry specified metal construction for future projects in c.1924. Wood working departments were retained to serve markets that prefered wood and to service and repair aircraft, but slowly wound down. For the Schneider racers Supermarine built in wood for the S4 and metal for the S5, S6 and S6B. Gloster started with wood for the Gloster II then used Short-built metal for the Gloster III before they mastered metal construction themselves for the Gloster IV and VI. Short built a wide range of metal floats that were fitted to various Moths etc and to all their own floatplanes. In WWII Saro revised the Supermarine Walrus to wooden construction as supplies of alloy were prioritised elsewhere.

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                • Duggy
                  Flight SIM Pilot
                  • Mar 2012
                  • 1126

                  #9
                  Early Curtiss aircraft had wooden pontoons here's a shot of a CT-1 pontoon under construction dated 11.4.20.

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                  • backflip01
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Oct 2013
                    • 16

                    #10
                    Thank you for your comments.

                    Yes I agree that early float planes are most likely to have been made from wood but i'm surprised that WW2" high performance" fighter aircraft would have been fitted with wooden floats. I would have thought that they would be a lot heavier than aluminium floats?

                    Comment

                    • John Aeroclub
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Jul 2006
                      • 2761

                      #11
                      Oswald Short was granted a master patent for Duralumin construction in 1921 and shortly afterwards Short's Bros started the widespread manufacture of metal floats. All the early flat surfaced floats of wooden construction were virtually made redundant by 1923. Short floats were almost always finished in a waterproof White varnish paint.

                      The Supermarine S.4 and Gloster III both used Short's metal floats.

                      John

                      Comment

                      • Schneiderman
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Jan 2008
                        • 797

                        #12
                        backflip01, I think you missunderstood re: high performance WW2 fighters. The Spitfire floatplanes did not have wooden floats.

                        John, I know that Oswald Short claimed that the S4 had Short-built metal floats but photographs show that this was not the case. Supermarine certainly designed an alternative set in metal and Short may have built a set but they do not appear to have been fitted.

                        Comment

                        • feroxeng
                          Rank 3 Registered User
                          • Jun 2018
                          • 21

                          #13
                          I suppose there are a number of surviving wooden floats around. There's definitely one at Yeovilton, once part of the Nash collection at Brooklands before the war. It belongs to a Sopwith Baby, but was not used in the recreation of N2078 as being too far gone. The photo shows it at Heathrow in December 1961 when the Nash collection was living there before most of it went to the RAF Museum. At Yeovilton a while back it was shrouded in plastic, just in case the woodworm escaped to the nearby Sea Prince.
                          Feroxeng.


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