I would like to know if there's ever been a seaplane in which all of its pontoons or sponsoons are retractable after takeoff.

This could be a seaplane with 1 or 2 main pontoons that somehow retract. Or more likely, this could be a flying boat (bouyant hull) whose under-wing pontoons retract into the wing. I will also count a flying boat with only sponsoons that can retract somehow.


1 Answer 1


There have been a couple of examples- the Blackburn B-20, for example, had a retractable pontoon below the hull (and retractable wing floats), though it was an one-off experimental aircraft with a single flight to its credit.


Blackburn B20, image from dinger.byethost5.com

As a more widespread example, the Consolidated PBY Catalina's wing floats were retracted electrically after takeoff.

Catalina wing float

Catalina's retractable wing float; image from navy.memorieshop.com

Retractable floats have been used in other aircraft too- like the Grumman G21A Goose and the SL-12C amphibian. Some designs like the Kawanishi E15K featured retractable floats, which were later removed due to issues.

A little more digging reveals that the German Ursinus Gotha WD 10 Fighter Seaplane had retractable floats quite early- during WWI!. However, I doubt it counts as the aircraft never went past taxiing stage.


Ursinus WD 10 fighter seaplane, image from 1000aircraftphotos.com


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