Grumman - G-44 Widgeon PDF Print E-mail

Grumman Widgeon at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.


Source: G.R. Hamilton
(Parentheses for McKinnion Widgeon if different from Ranger Widgeon)
Engines: Fairchild Ranger 6-440C-5 (Lycoming GO-480 G2D6)
Power: 200 hp/2450 rpm (295 hp/3400 rpm)
Propeller: Hartzell, Two dural blades, Controllable, optional reverse. (Hartzell, Three blades, Constant speed, feather, optional reverse)
Crew/Passengers: 1/4 (1/5 with escape hatch)
Gross Weight: 4,525 pounds (5,500 pounds)
Empty Weight: 3,240 pounds (4,425 lbs. fully equipped + engine oil)
Useful Load: 1,285 pounds (1,175 pounds)
Wing Span: 40 feet
Length: 31 feet 1 inch
Height: 11 feet 5 inches
Fuel Capacity: 108 gallons (154 gallons)
1996 average FMV: $140,000 US ($240,000 US)


Source: G.R. Hamilton
(Parentheses for McKinnion Widgeon if different from Ranger Widgeon)
Takeoff (land): 895 feet
Takeoff (water): 19 seconds (5 to 11 seconds)
Landing (land): 475 feet
Landing (water): 600 feet
Maximum Cruise (sea level): 160 mph (168 mph)
Normal Cruise (65% power): 138 mph (146 mph)
Stalling Speed: 48 mph (58 mph)
Rate of Climb: 1,000 fpm (1,500 fpm)
Range: 715 miles (925 miles)
Fuel Consumption: 23 gph (30 gph)
Optimum Cruise Altitude: 6,500 feet (9,500 feet)
Service Ceiling: 14,600 feet (19,000 feet)


All specifications were provided by G.R. Hamilton and have not been verified by SPA.

The following is an excerpt from the late G.R. Hamilton's book, Flying Boats for Recreation. Republished with permission, copyright 1997 G.R. Hamilton, all rights reserved. Special thanks to G.R. Hamilton.

The Widgeon is a typical Grumman shoulder wing, aluminum, twin engine amphibious flying boat. Most of the aft part of its wing was originally covered with fabric but almost all of them are now covered with aluminum. It also has fabric covered control surfaces. The Widgeon has a conventional landing gear with a tail wheel. The G-44A differs from the G-44 primarily by having a deeper and larger bow section forward of the step. This deeper bow mitigated the bad porpoise characteristics and improved the bow flotation of the Widgeon but it made the G-44A slightly slower.

In 1939 the success of the G-21 prompted Grumman interest in providing a smaller, and lower cost, amphibian for the commercial market. The Widgeon was thus designed as a civil aircraft and was flown for the first time in July of 1940. One hundred and seventy-six were manufactured for the military during the war years. One Widgeon actually sank the German U-boat U-166 in the Gulf of Mexico in 1942. The Widgeon carried a 325 pound depth charge mounted under the inboard starboard wing. Approximately fifty G-44As were manufactured by Grumman after the war and forty more were built under license by Societe de Constructions Aero-Navales (S.C.A.N.) in France. Altogether, some 274 Widgeons were built. Approximately 130 are still registered in North America. It seems that every other year a few more of these popular boats come home to roost in the U.S. from exotic places like Pakistan or Africa.

The SCAN type 30 was powered by a Salmson V-8 engine and was a G-44A design made to metric standards primarily of anodized aluminum vice Alclad. Anodizing is a superior but extremely thin protection of aluminum. Its protective qualities are easily removed by polishing or removing paint. The old SCAN type 30s are thus more vulnerable to saltwater corrosion than are the Grumman Widgeons.

The Grumman Widgeon was originally powered by 200 horsepower Ranger engines. The Widgeons modified to more powerful engines are collectively called Super Widgeons and they make some Super Widgeons the best all around seaplanes. The best modifications available, in ascending order of desirability and cost are the Pace/Mansdorf with Lycoming 300 horsepower radial engines, the Franklin with 260 and 300 horsepower Continental engines, the McDermott with 260 hp. Continental engines, the Link/Lockheed with Lycoming 260 hp. or 270 hp. engines, the McKinnion with Lycoming 260, 270, or 295 horsepower engines, and the Magnum with Lycoming 350 horsepower turbo-supercharged engines. Other desirable modifications to Widgeons include featherable and reversible propellers, heavier maximum gross weights for land and/or water, increased fuel capacity, auxiliary escape hatch, Cleveland brakes, and retractable wing tip floats.

The Pace/Mansdorf or Gannet conversion of the Widgeon with the Lycoming 300 hp. radial engines made it look very much like the Goose. It was a excellent performer with a published maximum speed of 190 mph and a published cruising speed at 65% power of 170 mph. Most of these conversions were SCAN type 30s. Unfortunately parts for the old R-680-E3 engines are becoming difficult to find and its high center of gravity and thrust aggravates the ugly porpoise characteristic.

The Grumman Widgeon and flight characteristics
An extremely light 295 horsepower McKinnion Super Widgeon can lift off the water in 5 seconds, when flown solo by a skillful aviator. They even often beat the incredible Beaver floatplane airborne at seaplane takeoff contests.

The maximum legal useful loads are determined by the FAA maximum certificated weight and the empty weight of an aircraft. The ability to carry a load greater than its maximum certificated weight assures that a seaplane loaded to its certified maximum weight will perform honestly and well. It has been said that the mark of a good seaplane is what load it can carry. The Ranger Widgeon can lift out of the water over 2000 pounds of load after an extended takeoff run. The Ranger Widgeon this author once owned had a legal useful load of 1294 pounds. The incredible Super Widgeons are said to be cubed out, or filled to capacity, before they reach the maximum that they can lift out of the water. Of course, the single engine ceiling, legality, and other characteristics are adversely effected by such heavy loads. The weight of many of the various Widgeon modifications tends to limit their legal useful loads. A limited legal useful load can make the Widgeon a poor choice for FAR 135 uses.

The Ranger powered G-44 Widgeon is the most porpoise prone of all seaplanes. The round engine Mansdorf conversion also had ugly porpoise characteristic because its high center-of-gravity and thrust aggravated the problem. Heavy loads also aggravate the porpoise characteristics. The flat engine Super Widgeons are less prone to porpoise than the Ranger Widgeon because the extra power shortens the takeoff run and exposure to the porpoise envelope. The later G-44A hulls of all the conversions greatly reduced the porpoise characteristics. Salty seaplane aviators have remarked, "If you can fly a Widgeon you can fly any seaplane." She is a bit like some beautiful women. In spite of her beauty and sweet flying characteristics she can be a bit challenging on the water when her attitude is ignored. She should definitely be avoided by low seaplane experienced aviators. Widgeon check-outs should be preceded by obtaining a Single Engine Sea (SES) and a Multi Engine Land (MEL) ratings. She is worth the trouble. The fantastic McKinnion Super Widgeon is this author's favorite.

The care and feeding of the Grumman Widgeon
The increased fuel consumption of the various Super Widgeons, when compared to the Ranger powered Widgeons, is the result of the increased cruise speed and associated drag. The fuel consumption will be the same, to the gallon, when a Ranger Widgeon and a McKinnion Super Widgeon are flown in formation on a long leg. This fact is reasonable when you stop to think about it. Both Widgeons have about the same amount of drag at the same airspeed and would require about the same amount of energy to overcome it.

The 200 horsepower six cylinders inverted in-line Ranger engine represented the high end of the development of that engine series. The result has a low, approximately 400 hour, time between top overhauls. It takes almost as many man-hours of labor to remove a Ranger cylinder as it does to split the crankcase on a horizontally opposed engine. The Ranger is not known for its reliability or reasonable oil consumption. Intake-valve-seals and compound oil-control-piston-rings have dramatically reduced its fabled oil consumption. Unfortunately, some parts for the old Ranger 6-440C-5 engines are becoming difficult to find thus making the maintenance of that engine more difficult. The horizontally opposed engines in the Super Widgeon modifications eliminated these problems.

Parts and/or servicing are obtainable for the Widgeon. Airframe parts are available from:

Dean H. Franklin
Amphibian Parts, INC.
15195 N.E. 21st Ave.
N. Miami Beach, FL., 33162
Viking Air Limited
Victoria International Airport
#9 - 9600 Canora Rd.
Sidney, BC., V8L 4R1, Canada
FAX (604/656-0673)
Ranger Engine parts are available from:
Solberg Aviation
Solberg Airport, Thor Solberg Rd.,
P. O. Box 15, Readington, NJ. 08870
908/534-2118 or 534-4000; FAX/534-4887