At the end of Hergé's The Seven Crystal Balls (first published 1943-1944), Tintin and Captain Haddock fly to Peru in a relatively big seaplane (or flying boat?).

Is it a real aircraft? If so, what type is it?

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EDIT: After finding the answer, I am adding here the picture from mins' comment, because it deserves being more clearly visible:

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ The small portholes make it look much bigger $\endgroup$
    – Klaws
    Apr 17 at 7:22
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    $\begingroup$ @Klaws Oh, you are right! I perceived the portholes as "standard" passenger aircraft windows. $\endgroup$ Apr 17 at 8:51

1 Answer 1


It bears a distinct resemblance to a Short Sunderland, except that it lacks the gun turrets. The shape of the hull, the fin, the engine configuration, the cockpit, the forward observation window (a gun turret on the original), the wing shape, even the general pattern of the windows match pretty closely given that it's a drawing not a photo. The tailplane in the drawing is more swept than the original.

Sunderlands converted for non-combat use were called Hythes.

This astonishingly complete list of vehicles in Herge works confirms it. (Thanks mins)

Short Sunderland

  • $\begingroup$ This of course assumes the illustrator had a particular airplane in mind, rather than just a general seaplane. $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 14:31
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    $\begingroup$ @EugeneStyer Hergé was very realistic, I am not sure if he ever "invented" any vehicle or aircraft. $\endgroup$ Apr 15 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ @EugeneStyer , This of course assumes the illustrator had a particular airplane in mind, rather than just a general seaplane Of course, in some cases cartoonists draw an abstract general "car", say. (A "cartoon car".) But in other cases, they very specifically draw a very specific car! In this case it is (look at the drawing!!!!) INCREDIBLY rigorous and precise!! BTW a great example is Ghibli's Wind also rises which features BOTH insanely perfect, staggeringly perfect drawings of certain aircraft, and also, totally bizarre nonsensical "cartoon aircraft" (in the dream sequences). $\endgroup$
    – Fattie
    Apr 16 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Aviation Meta, or in Aviation Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Apr 17 at 11:44

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