Amphibious Aircraft - Air-to-Sea Transport
View spreadsheet here: http://kam-net.com/ottd/statshack/seaplane-transport/
Air to Sea Transport
is a list of seaplanes and amphibious helicopters, largely real but a few drawings and prototypes that didn't make it far. For the sake of OpenTTD play most of the vehicles documented must be capable of transporting at least four passengers and/or at least 0.5 metric tons of cargo. I've taken some liberties here with rounding up cargo or passenger capacity, or rounded up or down other stats just to make it simple. After all, this is a game.
Seaplanes are typically classified into two types:
, which have ship-like hulls that are used for landing and buoyancy, with flotation sponsons or other devices on the wing tips to keep the plane balanced in water. Using any available space of water as a runway was a huge advantage over land-based airplanes, as it required very little infrastructure to be built and maintained. Because of this, however, most of the flying boats from 1910 through 1940 were restricted to water. As technology and needs progressed, however, that has largely changed, and today nearly all flying boats are classified as amphibious.
Flying boats came into development only a few years after the airplane was invented, and quickly developed into a preferred vehicle for use by military. Originally built for reconnaissance, they were quickly adapted into bombers and fighters, and were the first ship-based planes to be used in warfare. During the World War I all nations impressed their aircraft builders to crank out new designs and improvements and build thousands of units for war.
After World War I, small-capacity surplus flying boats became the first bush planes. Globetrotting explorers used them in their expeditions, and the vehicles got plenty of press coverage. They were also utilized early in trans-Atlantic mail service. Passenger cruise lines used small capacity flying planes to transfer mail from ship to shore, ahead of the ships, improving speed of delivery by up to 20%. The commercial airline business also saw them as useful, and many of what would become the major world airlines were originally formed around flying boats. While flying boats couldn't surpass sailing boats in capacity, they could surpass them in speed, and would set world records in transporting passengers across the Atlantic, and eventually the Pacific. These planes became larger and heavier over the next three decades, culminating in behemoths such as the Dornier Do X
, the BV 222 Wiking
, and the SARO Princess
, all represented in the set. They were also sought after by the wealthy and elite, many converted with amenities such as sleeping compartments and on-board kitchens.
After World War II, however, the golden era of the floatplane drew to a close. Global investments in building land-based airports, especially during and after the war, drastically dropped the cost of airplanes and airport infrastructure. Excess surplus wartime airplanes (many sold for just a few hundred dollars) were converted for secondary passenger and cargo use. Flying boats were much more expensive, by comparison, and their technology had become outdated. A few attempts to modernize them with jet turbine engines found them even more expensive and less reliable. In the dawn of the Space Age, flying boats were as antiquated as sail boats. In light of this, flying boats became more specialized. Many of the large cargo vessels were adapted and morphed into specialty aid vehicles, such as search-and-rescue response, mobile hospitals and firefighting air tankers / water bombers. More recently they've seen their renaissance as bush planes, aerosports planes, and personal transportation.
, which today are largely the same models as traditional aircraft, with flotation pontoons replacing wheels as the landing gear. These originally were purpose-built vehicles for military reconnaissance and fighters. Aircraft manufacturers, however, found it more cost-effective to design planes which could be adapted for use on dry land, frozen tundra and snow, as well as water, and within a decade of the invention of the airplane many popular models came as a floatplane option. Further, many more would become amphibious thanks to Earl Dodge Osborn, who in 1925 began marketing EDO floats
, which performed as both flotation pontoons and landing wheels. Most major manufacturers offered EDO floats as an option at the factory. For those that were not adapted as amphibious, EDO often built popular after-market conversions.
Floatplanes, for the most part, are smaller in both physical size and capacity compared to flying boats of the early- and mid-20th century. This made them much more affordable and economical to use as personal transport, commuter and ferry services, and feeder cargo delivery. From bush planes, to tourism, scouting and exploration, as well as training new pilots how to fly, amphibious floatplanes have always been a popular option for anybody who wanted or needed to get from land to water and back quickly and affordably. Vehicles are typically quite durable, and even with abuse are able to be well maintained for decades of use. Today floatplanes are typically split between bush planes, short-route cargo transport, commuter and tourist transport, and aerosports.
are largely standard helicopters which have been designed or fitted to be capable of making landings on water. There are not very many models, but most have 20-to-40 year operational histories and a very long life of production and refurbishment. They found their popularity in the 1960s and 1970s for multi-purpose land-air-sea operations, especially in ship-to-shore transfer and air-sea rescue. Most of today's modern helicopters have little need to make water landings, but there are still a few models in production or mid-life refurbishments. Most of these are designed exclusively for military use. Sometimes a model will be created for civilian markets, but it is rare (nearly impossible) for an ex-military surplus to be allowed conversion to civilian operation. Still, world governments are generous with OpenTTD society and we're allowed to fly them on our maps as we see fit.