Eli5: how do water bombers not noseplant when refilling in a body of water?


Water landings are said to be near impossible to pull off for anything but hydroplanes (see also: the Hudson miracle) and yet water bombers do it as a matter of routine. How do they keep from crashing (or at least, losing so much speed that they can’t just climb again after scooping up the water) as soon as they hit water?

In: 18

First of all, most of these planes are water planes.

They only ever kiss the water and operate in the same speed regime as speed boats, where most of the hull never actually touches the water (not unlike the way a hydrofoil does it). The scoops are located in a way, that they still are submerged during that.

When taking off in a water plane from a standstill, it is acutally more engergy-intensive to lift the body out of the water, to a point that it is only “kissing”, than actually fully seperating from the water.

Edit: The difference between this and the Hudson is the shape of the fuselage. Water planes bottoms are shaped much more like a boat hull, while a passenger airliner is much more straight, basically “sucking” the plane down as soon as it touches and thus slowing it down fast (so fast in fact, that most of the time they get very seriously damaged).

Ditching in water is standard emergency procedure. Yes it has dangers and flipping is one of them but ultimately it’s something most planes can do.

Hydroplanes, or sea planes or boat planes, are amphibious planes that can land on water, either because they have pontoons that allow them to float, or the underside of the fuselage, like in firefighting planes, is shaped like the keel of a boat. That means the plane can land on the water on its belly and float like a boat. This hydrodynamic design means that it’s very difficult for the nose of the aircraft to snag in the water and flip over.

They’re basically made like boats so that they float like boats.

It’s not near impossible, just difficult and risky. Water landings also get easier the smaller the plane is and the slower it’s moving. There’s a good video of a guy ditching a WW2 bomber in shallow water along a Florida beach a few years ago.

This is at least a junior high level question on r/explainlikeimfive. Sincere praise. I had to read the question three times.

The “scoop” is very small so it creates as little drag as possible during the filling process.