Seaplane Story 2

Two of the early seaplanes or “flying boats” used by the U.S. Navy were the PBY and the PBM. Then, from the early 1950’s through 1967 the Glenn L. Martin Company produced the P5M-1, P5M-2, and the Anti-Submarine Warfare version, the P5M-2S. When I joined VP-48 in June of 1958 they were flying the P5M-1 and had just returned two months previously from a 6 month deployment at Naval Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. Still flying the P5M-1, we deployed again to Iwakuni in April of 1959 for 6 months and after we returned we started taking delivery of the P5M-2’s. I don’t remember the details but after receiving just a couple of the -2’s we started receiving the P5M-2S, the “S” suffix meaning that the plane was equipped with the jazzy electronic gear of the new Anti-Submarine Warfare package. We had to obtain a “Secret” clearance just to work on the gear.

The first picture shows the difference between the appearance of the P5M-1 and P5M-2. On the “-1”, the horizontal stabilizer on the tail is down low, at the height of the fuselage. On the “-2”, they put the horizontal stabilizer at the top of the tail section and created that “flying tail” or T-tail” effect. Cool!

P5M-1 & P5M-2

The second image is a spec. sheet. It says that the cruising speed was 150 knots but as I recall it was more like 140 knots. We didn’t move too fast.

02b P5M-2 Specs

The third picture was included to show the size of the aircraft. Also, notice the red rectangle above the tires on the port side and the green rectangle above the tires on the starboard side. Those are flotation chambers. After the plane is launched and is in the water, a crew member throws a lever, setting the wheels adrift and they are towed away from the aircraft. This plane can only take off and land on water.

Moving P5M

That bulbous white nose is a radome housing a parabolic dish antenna that was at least 4 feet in diameter. I don’t remember exactly but I do remember that when working on the antenna I could bend a little at the waist and neck and could move clear around the front of the antenna. The radome must have been almost 6 feet at its maximum diameter.

Dave Thomas
February 29, 2012, revised February 16, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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