Grumman JRF-5 Goose belonging to the 8S squadron, seen on the Mekong in August 1952. (ECPA)
TWIN-ENGINED UTILITY AMPHIBIAN FLYING-BOAT
It first flew on May 29th 1937. Initially built as a private venture for the civil market of the late 1930s, Grumman's G-21 Goose evoked immediate interest from within the US military, with the US Navy ordering one for evaluation in 1938. Designated the XJ3F-1, the prototype was subsequently followed by 20 JRF-1As in 1939 after its successful flight test programme. The first examples were employed as general transports, in the target tug role and as photographic platforms by both the Navy and Marine Corps. The next batch of ten, designated JRF-4s, could carry bombs or depth charges, and these were followed by variants for the Coast Guard and USAAC. The build up to war in 1941 resulted in Grumman introducing the improved JRF-5, of which 184 examples were eventually built. At least 56 of these were supplied as Goose I/ IAs to the RAF in 1943, the Air Force usinf them for navigational training, air-sea rescue and general ferrying duties.
Twelve JRF-5 Gooses were sold to France in 1952 and delivered to the 8S squadron based at Cat-Laï close to Saïgon (Indochina). They were mainly used for MEDEVAC, transport/communication and CAS (French examples had been equipped with two guns and bomb pylons) during the war taking place over there. Five additionnal Gooses were delivered in 1954 and fielded at Tan Son Nhut. Then, four of them were sent to New-Caledonia. In 1956, eleven aircraft were sent to NAS Alger-Maison Blanche (Algeria) carrying out various duties such as transport/ communication and surveillance until 1959. Two examples were flown by the 27F and based either at Ouakam or Dakar Bel-Air. They were retired from French Navy service in Spring 1961 because of the accident in January 1961 of one of them ferrying Admiral Ponchardier and five other passengers who were all killed.
The French aircraft were equipped with two Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-6 turboprops. It could acommodate two pilots and five passengers.