The Hall XPTBH was a prototype American twin-engined seaplane, submitted to the United States Navy by the Hall Aluminum Aircraft Corporation in response to a 1934 specification for new bomber and scout aircraft. Constructed in an innovative fashion that made extensive use of aluminum, the XPTBH proved successful in flight testing, but failed to win favor with the U.S. Navy. No production contract was awarded, and the single aircraft built served in experimental duties before its destruction in a hurricane during 1938.

A twin-engined, monoplane aircraft, fitted with two large floats and with a large tail fin, flies over a city.
The XPTBH-2 in flight
Role Seaplane torpedo-bomber
Manufacturer Hall Aluminum Aircraft Corporation
First flight February 1937
Retired September 21, 1938
Primary user United States Navy
Number built 1
Program cost $309,000 USD[1]
Type Prototype
Serial 9721[2]
Fate Destroyed in hurricane
September 21, 1938

Design and development

In late 1934, the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) issued a specification for new scout bomber and torpedo bomber designs.[3] Eight companies submitted a total of ten designs in response, evenly split between monoplanes and biplanes.[4][N 1] The Hall Aluminum Aircraft Company submitted the only seaplane design;[4] a single prototype was ordered by the Navy for evaluation on June 30, 1934. Given the designation XPTBH-1,[6] it became the only aircraft to receive three mission-type letters under the U.S. Navy's designation system used between 1922 and 1962.[7][8][9]

Hall's choice of the twin-float seaplane configuration was dictated by the Navy's requirement that the new torpedo-bomber design should be capable of carrying a standard naval torpedo of the type carried by destroyers.[10] As ordered, the XPTBH-1 was intended to be fitted with Wright R-1820 "Cyclone" radial engines;[6] delays in design caused by Hall relocating their production facility, difficulties with the contract, and doubts about the aircraft's performance potential led to a redesign, the aircraft becoming slightly smaller and the engines being changed to a pair of Pratt & Whitney R-1830 "Twin Wasp" radials.[1] The changes to the aircraft resulted in it receiving the revised designation XPTBH-2.[10]

Utilising Hall's standard aluminum tubular spar,[10] the fuselage and wing leading edges were covered in aluminum, while the rest of the wing and the control surfaces were fabric-covered.[10] The aircraft was well-armed defensively by 1930s standards, with a powered turret, designed by Hall, mounted in the nose and carrying a single .30-caliber machine gun.[10] Hand-traversed mountings for a pair of machine guns were fitted in dorsal (top) and ventral (belly) positions aft.[10] An optically flat glass panel was fitted in the nose below the turret for use by the bombardier;[10] the aircraft's offensive weaponry, consisting of a Mark XIII aerial torpedo or, alternatively, up to 2,000 pounds (910 kg) of bombs,[10] was carried in an internal bomb bay, the twin-float arrangement allowing for a clear release of the weaponry.[6]

Operational history

Delivered to the Navy on January 30, 1937,[6][11][N 2] the aircraft was officially presented to the public at Hall's Bristol, Pennsylvania factory in April of that year.[10] The aircraft's early flight testing, starting in February[1] and conducted by test pilot Bill McAvoy,[6][10] showed that the XPTBH had few faults, with the only significant issue being a lack of roll authority – a reduction of the ability of the ailerons to turn the aircraft – as a result of the surface area of the floats.[10] A modification to increase the area of the rudder solved the issue.[10] The aircraft's water-handling characteristics were found to be excellent;[13] the only significant complaints that surfaced during the testing period concerned the XPTBH-2's beaching gear, which was found to be extremely difficult to use in anything other than the calmest water.[13]

Although the XPTBH-2 met most of its design specifications and was rated overall very good in flight testing,[6][13] it failed to meet the contractual requirements for top speed and attack speed.[1] In addition, the U.S. Navy did not consider a seagoing torpedo-bomber to be an aircraft for which there was an operational requirement;[10] the fact that as a floatplane the aircraft was restricted to operation from water was also considered a negative,[5] while the aircraft's "three-in-one" role led it to be viewed as a jack of all trades, purpose-designed aircraft for each role being considered superior.[14] The company, however, blamed Navy politics for the lack of a production order.[13]

Following the conclusion of its test program, the XPTBH-2 was used for experimental duties at the Naval Torpedo Station in Newport, Rhode Island, participating in trials of aerial torpedoes.[1] Its service at Newport came to an end on September 21, 1938, when the XPTBH-2 was destroyed during the Great New England Hurricane.[13] The XPTBH-2 was the last aircraft designed by Hall Aluminum;[10] the company remained in business until 1940, when it was bought out by Consolidated Aircraft.[15][N 3]

Specifications (XPTBH-2)

Hall XPTBH-2 on water
The XPTBH-2 on the water

Data from Wegg 1990,[6] Trimble 2005,[1] Boyne 2001[13]

General characteristics

  • Crew: four (pilot, copilot/navigator/bombardier, flight mechanic/gunner, radio operator/gunner)
  • Length: 55 ft 11 in (17.04 m)
  • Wingspan: 79 ft 4 in (24.18 m)
  • Height: 24 ft 1 in (7.34 m)
  • Wing area: 828 sq ft (76.9 m2)
  • Airfoil: Clark YM[17]
  • Empty weight: 11,992 lb (5,439 kg)
  • Gross weight: 17,983 lb (8,157 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 21,414 lb (9,713 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-60 radial piston engines, 800 hp (600 kW) each
  • Propellers: 3-bladed Curtiss constant-speed


  • Maximum speed: 182 mph (293 km/h, 158 kn)
  • Cruise speed: 170 mph (270 km/h, 150 kn)
  • Range: 2,621 mi (4,219 km, 2,278 nmi)
  • Combat range: 850 mi (1,369 km, 739 nmi) with torpedo
  • Service ceiling: 20,400 ft (6,200 m) at 17,983 pounds (8,157 kg) mission weight
  • Time to altitude: 5.3 minutes to 5,000 feet (1,500 m)
  • Wing loading: 25.8 lb/sq ft (126 kg/m2)


  • Guns: 2 x .30-caliber machine guns in nose turret and dorsal position; 1 x .30-cal or .50-cal machine gun in ventral position
  • Bombs: One Mark XIII torpedo or up to 2,000 pounds (910 kg) bombs

See also

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era

Related lists



  1. ^ The designs submitted, in total, were the Brewster SBA, Curtiss SBC, Douglas TBD, Great Lakes XB2G, Great Lakes XTBG, Grumman XSBF, Hall XPTBH, Northrop BT (which became the SBD Dauntless), Vought SB2U and Vought XSB3U;[4] the XTBD and XTBG were the XPTBH's main competitors.[5]
  2. ^ A Navy source gives December 17, 1936 as the acceptance date.[12]
  3. ^ Deliveries of the Hall PH, a biplane flying boat which first flew in 1929, continued until 1941.[16]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Trimble 2005, p.14.
  2. ^ Baugher 2011
  3. ^ Dann 1996, p.20.
  4. ^ a b c Doll 1992, p.4.
  5. ^ a b Windrow 1970, pp.28–29.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Wegg 1990, p.115.
  7. ^ Swanborough and Bowers 1990, p.8.
  8. ^ Kelly and Riley 1997, p.35.
  9. ^ Boyne 2001, p.59.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Boyne 2001, p.60.
  11. ^ Wagner 1960, p.335.
  12. ^ Van Fleet et al. 1985, p.90.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Boyne 2001, p.61.
  14. ^ Trimble 1982, p.207.
  15. ^ Pattillo 2000, p.105.
  16. ^ Wegg 1990, p.113.
  17. ^ Lednicer 2010


  • Baugher, Joe (October 5, 2009). "US Navy and US Marine Corps BuNos, First Series (A6002 to 9999)". US Navy and US Marine Corps Aircraft Serial Numbers and Bureau Numbers—1911 to Present. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Boyne, Walter J. (2001). The Best of Wings: Great Articles from Wings and Airpower Magazines. Dulles, VA: Brassey's. ISBN 1-57488-368-2.
  • Dann, Richard S. (1996). Grumman Biplane Fighters in action. Aircraft In Action. 150. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-353-1.
  • Doll, Tom (1992). SB2U Vindicator in action. Aircraft In Action. 122. Carrollton, TX: Squadron/Signal Publications. ISBN 0-89747-274-8.
  • Kelly, Harold H.; William A. Riley (1997). Enlisted Naval Aviation Pilots: USN-USMC-USCG, 1916–1981. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56311-110-5. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Lednicer, David (2010). "The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage". University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
  • Pattillo, Donald M. (2000). Pushing the Envelope: The American Aircraft Industry. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 978-0-472-08671-9. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Swanborough, Gordon; Peter M. Bowers (1990). United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 (3rd ed.). London: Putnam. ISBN 978-0-87021-792-0.
  • Trimble, William F. (1982). High Frontier: A History of Aeronautics in Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 0-8229-5340-4. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Trimble, William F. (2005). Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy's Seaplane Striking Force. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-878-2. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Van Fleet, Clarke; Armstrong, William J.; E.R. Seymour; W.L. McDonald (1985). United States Naval Aviation 1910–1980. NAV AIR 00-80P-1. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office. ASIN B000QB7T3O. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
  • Wagner, Ray (1960). American Combat Planes (1st ed.). Garden City, NY: Hanover House. ASIN B0007DNHZK.
  • Wegg, John (1990). General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors. London: Putnam. ISBN 0-85177-833-X.
  • Windrow, Martin (1970). Aircraft in Profile. 8. New York: Doubleday. ASIN B001IS060M. Retrieved 2011-01-22.

External links

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The Douglas TBD Devastator was an American torpedo bomber of the United States Navy. Ordered in 1934, it first flew in 1935 and entered service in 1937. At that point, it was the most advanced aircraft flying for the Navy and possibly for any navy in the world. However, the fast pace of aircraft development quickly caught up with it, and by the time of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor the TBD was already outdated.

The Devastator performed well in some early battles, but earned notoriety for its catastrophically poor performance in the Battle of Midway, in which the 41 Devastators launched during the battle produced zero torpedo hits and only six survived to return to their carriers. Vastly outclassed in both speed and maneuverability by the Mitsubishi Zero fighters they faced, most of the force was wiped out with little consequence except to distract the Zeros from the much more capable (and survivable) SBD Dauntless dive bombers that eventually sank four Japanese carriers and a heavy cruiser. Although a small portion of the Devastator's dismal performance was later attributed to the many well-documented defects in the US Mark 13 torpedo, the aircraft was immediately withdrawn from frontline service after Midway, being replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger.

Fiat RS.14

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Fokker T.VIII

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It was developed in the late 1930s as a more-capable successor to the Fokker T.IV. While the Dutch Naval Aviation Service had originally desired for its use in both the home waters and in the Dutch East Indies, the Second World War broke out as production was ramping up to meet these needs. In addition to its service in the Netherlands, both the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Luftwaffe would operate small numbers of the type.

Great Lakes XTBG

The Great Lakes XTBG-1 was an American prototype torpedo bomber, intended for service in the United States Navy as part of that service's plan to modernise its aerial striking force in the mid-1930s. The XTBG-1 was outperformed by the competing TBD Devastator, however, in addition to having instability problems and only a single prototype of the three-seat design was constructed during 1935.

Grumman XSBF

The Grumman XSBF, also known by the company designation G-14, was an American biplane scout bomber developed by Grumman Aircraft for the United States Navy during the 1930s. Derived from Grumman's successful "Fifi" fighter, the aircraft was developed at a time when the biplane was giving way to the monoplane. In competition against other aircraft it proved to possess inferior performance in its intended role, and did not enter production. The sole prototype went on to serve as a liaison aircraft, as well as being used in experiments by NACA, before being destroyed in a crash in 1939.

Heinkel He 115

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List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1935–1939)

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List of aircraft (H-He)

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List of bomber aircraft

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List of seaplanes and amphibious aircraft

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Seaplanes are any aircraft that has the capability of landing on water while amphibious aircraft are equipped with wheels to alight on land, as well as being able to land on the water. Flying boats rely on the fuselage or hull for buoyancy, while floatplanes rely on external pontoons or floats. Some experimental aircraft used specially designed skis to skim across the water but did not always have a corresponding ability to float.

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List of torpedo bombers

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Vought XSB3U

The Vought XSB3U was an American biplane scout bomber developed by Vought-Sikorsky for the United States Navy during the 1930s. Developed as an alternative to the SB2U Vindicator monoplane, the aircraft proved unsatisfactory to the Navy in comparison, and development was not pursued.

Hall-Aluminum aircraft
USN/USMC patrol aircraft designations 1923–1962
Patrol Bomber
Patrol Torpedo Bomber
USN/USMC torpedo aircraft designations pre-1962
Torpedo Bomber
Torpedo Scout
Patrol Torpedo Bomber


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