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Convair R3Y Tradewind "1954"

The front-loading R3Y-2 aircraft with a hinged nose and high cockpit were intended to be a Flying LST (landing craft). In practice, it was discovered that it was almost impossible for the pilots to hold the aircraft steady and nose on to the beach while the aircraft was loaded or unloaded.[1] The aircraft were converted into tankers for the inflight refuelling role. They had a short service life because of the unsolvable unreliability problems of their Allison T40 turboprop engines, a fate common to most T40-powered aircraft, such as the Douglas A2D Skyshark attack aircraft.

Convair R3Y Tradewind "1954"

Role transport flying boat
Manufacturer Convair
First flight 22 February 1954 (R3Y-1)
Introduction 1956 (R3Y-1)
Retired 1958
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 11 (R3Y) & 2 (P5Y)

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Convair
R3Y Tradewind "1954"

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Convair
R3Y Tradewind "1954"

The Convair R3Y Tradewind was an American 1950s turboprop-powered flying boat designed and built by Convair.

Convair received a request from the United States Navy in 1945 for the design of a large flying boat using new technology developed during World War II, especially the laminar flow wing and still-developing turboprop technology. Their response was the Model 117. It was a large high-wing flying boat with Allison T40 engines driving six-bladed contra-rotating propellers. It had a sleek body with a single-step hull and a slender high-lift wing with fixed floats. The Navy ordered two prototypes on 27 May 1946. Designated XP5Y-1, the first aircraft first flew on 18 April 1950 at San Diego. In August the aircraft set a turboprop endurance record of eight hours six minutes. The Navy decided not to proceed with the patrol boat version, instead directing that the design should be developed into a passenger and cargo aircraft.

Operational Service

 

The R3Y set a transcontinental seaplane record of 403 mph in 1954 by utilizing the speed of high-altitude jetstream winds. This record still stands.

After service trials the aircraft were delivered to US Navy transport squadron VR-2 on 31 March 1956. Problems with the engine/propeller combination led to the ending of Tradewind operations and the unit was disbanded on 16 April 1958.

The six R3Y-2s were converted into four-point in-flight tankers using the probe-and-drogue method. In September 1956 one example was the first aircraft to successfully refuel four others simultaneously in flight in 1956, refuelling four Grumman F9F Cougars.

The program was halted after thirteen aircraft were built, the reason being the unreliability of the Allison T-40 turboprops

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Convair R3Y Tradewind (1954)

Variants

XP5Y-1
Prototype patrol flying boat, two built.
R3Y-1
Transport aircraft for the United States Navy with side loading door, 5 built.
R3Y-2
Assault transport aircraft for the USN with shorter nose incorporating an upward-opening loading door, later converted to four-point tankers for probe-and-drogue operations, six built.

Specifications

      • Crew: 7 flight crew + cabin crew / loadmasters
      • Capacity: 80 pax / 72 litter patients with 8 medical staff
      • Length: 139 ft 8.3 in (42.578 m) R3Y-2: 141 ft 1.7 in (43 m)
      • Wingspan: 145 ft 9.7 in (44.442 m)
      • Width: 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m) maximum hull beam
      • Height: 49 ft 0 in (14.94 m) keel to fin tip
      • Gross weight: 145,500 lb (65,998 kg)
      • Max takeoff weight: 165,000 lb (74,843 kg)
      • Powerplant: 4 × Allison T40-A-10 turboprop engines, 5,332 shp 
      • Propellers: 6-bladed Aeroproducts, 15 ft (4.6 m) diameter 
    • Maximum speed: 299 kn (344 mph, 554 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,401 m) 
    • Cruise speed: 300 kn (350 mph, 560 km/h) average at 29,000–34,200 ft (8,839–10,424 m)
    • Range: 2,420 nmi (2,780 mi, 4,480 km)
    • Combat range: 1,240 nmi (1,430 mi, 2,300 km)
    • Service ceiling: 30,300 ft (9,200 m) at MTOW
    • Rate of climb: 1,910 ft/min (9.7 m/s) at MTOW
    • Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 12 minutes 18 seconds at 

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The front-loading R3Y-2 aircraft with a hinged nose and high cockpit were intended to be a Flying LST (landing craft). In practice, it was discovered that it was almost impossible for the pilots to hold the aircraft steady and nose on to the beach while the aircraft was loaded or unloaded.[1] The aircraft were converted into tankers for the inflight refuelling role. They had a short service life because of the unsolvable unreliability problems of their Allison T40 turboprop engines, a fate common to most T40-powered aircraft, such as the Douglas A2D Skyshark attack aircraft.

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