Jeeps of the Air


by Trudi McCullough

AP Features Writer


[The story was copied from the Coast Guard Magazine, October, 1944 edition.]





WORKHORSE.  The versatile J2F-6, manufactured by Columbia Aircraft Corp., has become to the Coast Guard what the jeep is to the Army. Fliers say there is no job too tough for it from the Aleutians to the Jap-infested atolls.


“They must be using her to scare the Japanese,” Columbia aircraft workers who make the J2F-6 used to crack. Until a month ago the builders of this ugly duckling amphibian, whose motor roar is amplified frighteningly by echoing against the hollow pontoon, didn’t know what they were making her for. They simply knew that Navy and Coast Guard pilots flew the noise Ducks away from the Long Island plant’s apron as fast as they could be put there.


Early last month a telegram of congratulations from the Bureau of Aeronautics conferred glamour on the short-winged, long snouted Duck for the first time.

Because she can go where other planes can’t, take off amid ten-foot wave or from a carrier deck, sit down in a narrow lagoon, channel or creek and doesn’t nose over the water, the Duck has become the “rescuing angel” to many a wreck pilot in the Pacific.




That is the Duck’s most spectacular function but, as a general workourse, she has become to the Navy and Coast Guard what the jeep is to the Army.


She’s used for reconnaissance, fitted with the latest photographic and radio equipment, and is invaluable for making water landings at the rim of island where no airstrip has been constructed. She hauls personnel and light cargo, tows gunnery targets, has gone on bombardment attacks in the South Seas and scouted for submarines in the Atlantic. Security prohibits any details on her armament, but the Duck depends on it maneuverability for its own defense.




Powered by a Wright improved “Cyclone,” the biplane can stay aloft for seven or eight hours. When she goes on a rescue or photographic mission, the Duck takes off five or ten minutes in advance of a fighter escort to equalize the speed variability.

She carries a crew of three but has carried as many as seven. She has a very shallow draft and can land in a few feet of water. She is in use in Alaska and on every front in the Pacific.


The Bureau of Aeronautics’ telegram chronicled one of the Pacific exploits.

In seas so high a heavy patrol plane had to turn down the assignment, Maj. Ronald Campbell, took off in a Duck.


“With waves breaking over his top wing,” the telegram said, “Maj. Campbell landed, picked up the pilot, and taxied nine miles to the lee of an island where in calmer waters he could take off. The rescue plane was badly warped and sprung by the buffeting, but landed with rescuer and rescued intact.”



Jeeps of the Air by Trudi McCullough AP Features Writer -- This story was originally published in the Coast Guard Magazine, October, 1944 edition.

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