|A Grumman Widgeon on Frazer Lake on the southwest end of Kodiak Island, Alaska|
|Primary users||United States Navy|
United States Army Air Forces
United States Coast Guard
|Number built||317 (including license-built French SCAN 30)|
The Grumman G-44 Widgeon is a small, five-person, twin-engined, amphibious aircraft. It was designated J4F by the United States Navy and Coast Guard and OA-14 by the United States Army Air Corps and United States Army Air Forces.
The Widgeon was originally designed for the civil market. It is smaller, but otherwise similar to Grumman's earlier G-21 Goose, and was produced from 1941 to 1955. The aircraft was used during World War II as a small patrol and utility machine by the US Navy, US Coast Guard, and Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
The first prototype flew in 1940, and the first production aircraft went to the US Navy as an antisubmarine aircraft. In total, 276 were built by Grumman, including 176 for the military. During World War II, they served with the US Navy, Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and Army Air Force, as well as with the British Royal Navy, which gave it the service name Gosling.
On August 1, 1942, a J4F-1 flown by US Coast Guard Patrol Squadron 212 based out of Houma, Louisiana, and flown by Chief Aviation Pilot Henry White, spotted and attacked a German U-boat off the coast of Louisiana. White reported the submarine sunk, and he was subsequently credited with sinking U-166 and awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
However, in June 2001 the wreck of U-166 was found sitting near the wreck of SS Robert E. Lee by an oil exploration team; and the sinking of U-166 on July 30 (i.e. two days before the Widgeon flight) is now credited to patrol craft PC-566 escorting the Robert E. Lee.
White's Widgeon is now thought to have made an unsuccessful attack against U-171, a Type IXC U-boat identical to U-166 that reported an air attack coincident with White's attack. U-171 was undamaged by White's attack, but was sunk four months later in the Bay of Biscay.
The sinking of a German U-boat by the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) was claimed by one of their larger aircraft on 11 July 1942. The Grumman G-44 Widgeon, armed with two depth charges and crewed by Captain Johnny Haggins and Major Wynant Farr, was scrambled when another CAP patrol radioed that they had encountered an enemy submarine, but were returning to base due to low fuel. After scanning the area, Farr spotted the U-boat cruising beneath the surface of the waves. Unable to accurately determine the depth of the vessel, Haggins and Ferr radioed the situation back to base and followed the enemy in hopes that it would rise to periscope depth. For three hours, the crew shadowed the submarine. Just as Haggins was about to return to base, the U-boat rose to periscope depth, and Haggins swung the aircraft around, aligned with the submarine and dove to 100 feet (30 m). Farr released one of the two depth charges, blowing the submarine's front out of the water. As it left an oil slick, Farr made a second pass and released the other charge. Debris appeared on the ocean's surface, confirming the U-boat's demise and the CAP's first kill.
After the war, Grumman redesigned the aircraft to make it more suitable for civilian operations. A new hull improved its water handling, and six seats were installed. In total, 76 of the new G-44As were built by Grumman, the last being delivered on January 13, 1949. Another 41 were produced under license by the Société de construction aéronavaleLa Rochelle, France, as the SCAN 30. Most of these ended up in the United States.(SCAN) in
McKinnon Enterprises at Sandy, Oregon, converted over 70 Widgeons to "Super Widgeons". The conversion features replacing the engines with 270 hp (200 kW) Avco Lycoming GO-480-B1D flat-six piston engines, and various other modifications, including modern avionics, three-bladed propellers, larger windows, improved soundproofing, emergency exits, and increased maximum takeoff weight. Retractable wingtip floats were optional.
Pacific Aerospace Engineering Corporation conversions of S.C.A.N. 30s, powered by 300 hp (220 kW) Lycoming R-680-13 radial engines. Later known as the Gannet Super Widgeon
Many Widgeons survive in private hands in various states of restoration or storage. The aircraft continues to enjoy a considerable degree of popularity as a seaplane, with many still being flown regularly, though rarely on the warbird circuit.
Data from War Planes of the Second World War: Volume Five: Flying Boats
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era
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