The Blackhawk Seaplane

The Blackhawks flew a lot of different aircraft, including at least two different amphibious seaplanes. One was the Grumman Albatross, featured in Blackhawk #185. Another, much larger seaplane appeared in Blackhawk #59. I had originally thought this seaplane was a Martin Mars, but that would have required combining the the single vertical stabilizer of the JRM with the nose of the XPB2M-1R. Bob Fulker, who provided the images below, suggests that it is a Sikorsky XPBS-1. After looking at pictures of the XPBS-1, I believe he is right. The proportions of the forward end of the ship match up well with how the seaplane is drawn in the comic. The nose turret is turned into a simple glazed nose in the comic, but that is a minor difference. Overall, the XPBS-1 is a good match.

The XPBS-1 did not enter production. The single aircraft that was built came to a dramatic and little-known end at 9:35am on June 30, 1942. The XPBS-1 was arriving from Honolulu with Admiral Chester Nimitz and some of his staff with critical intelligence information regarding the Battle of Midway. Upon landing in San Francisco Bay the plane hit a submerged log, flipped over on its back, and began to sink. Amazingly all but one person survived the crash. There is a short but poignant description of Nimitz sitting on the upside down wing in the book "Nimitz" by E. B. Potter (USNI 1976). Wartime security was very tight and the news of this accident was not published in San Francisco until July 11th and all it said was "Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the Pacific Fleet...has recently escaped serious injury in a plane crash at a West Coast port where he came under strict secrecy to receive a decoration (Distinguished Service Medal)..."

Obviously, at least one more was built, in secret, for the Blackhawks. This fits well with the precedent of the Blackhawks using aircraft that did not enter production for the regular military services (the Grumman XF5F-1 and the Lockheed XF-90).

I received another suggestion for the identity of the Blackhawk's flying boat. Marty Corini sent the following: I think that the flying boat you show is a Short Sunderland, which stands to reason if the Blackhawks were based "in the Orkney Islands". The nose turret & canopy look identical to a "Flying Porcupine".

Click here for more info and photo of the Short Sunderland. It does look like the drawings and kits of the Sunderland are available, so building the seaplane is possible.

Click on the thunbnails below to see a larger version.

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All characters, pictures, and related indicia on these pages are the property of DC Comics. All text is 1998-2001 Dan Thompson, except where otherwise noted. This homepage is not intended to infringe on the copyright of DC Comics to its characters, but was created out of gratitude to all the wonderful writers, artists, and editors who created the Blackhawks.