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Old 01-27-2020, 05:52 PM   #1
Icelander
 
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Default Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

J.R. Kessler, the ubiquitous centenarian billionaire Patron for a network of occult investigators and Monster Hunters (including the PCs), is mostly concerned with supernatural threats in the Caribbean, US Gulf Coast and neighbouring regions.

I've mentioned him in threads such as Caribbean by Night, Vile Vortices and Supernatural Threats, Study of Folklore and Magic in Texas and the Gulf Coast, Self-designation Terms for Different Monster Hunter Teams in the World and the recent Scientific Specializations for Exploring Unknown Island.

Now, Kessler himself lives on a 220' superyacht, the Penemue, and even back when he was still young enough to do any traveling off his mobile palace, he tended to prefer high-performance yachts, fast tenders, powerful boat transports and sleek go-fast boats to airplanes.

However, the logistics of dispatching occult investigators and small teams of armed Monster Hunters* around the Gulf Coast and the Caribbean quickly enough so that they are able to actually respond to events, not just investigate the aftermath, requires a way to reach almost any spot in the Caribbean without having to worry about flight schedules or available passenger service to the more out of the way places.

In classic Caribbean fashion, it calls for amphibious aircraft, seaplanes or flying boats. Certainly, Kessler will have interests in numerous international companies with access to more conventional private jets, but for Night Riding, sometimes you just need a seaplane.

I'm looking for suggestions on makes and models for a variety of potential tasks. The basic requirement is a compromise between performance as a transport (good crusing speed and range) and the ability to operate with minimal support.

Later on, Kessler will determine that for certain special locations or times, what is required are aircraft that are rugged, reliable and able to still function if computers and high-tech electronics start to fail. In the year 2018, he'll own several rugged and simple early TL8 aircraft, a few TL7 ones and maybe even some TL6 relics that can still fly eighty years or so after introduction. Most likely, the aircraft that his people have access to will be a mixture of such older planes, able to function inside Vile Vortices with significant paranormal activity, and more modern, more capable aircraft made in the 1990s and later.

Some tasks I was considering:

1) A high-end, modern amphibious aircraft available in 1995, to explore the Mysterious Unknown Island 250 miles north of Puerto Rico. Needs at least a 1,000 mile range and the ahility to carry at least four, as well as being able to operate for at least a few days with only a boat as a tender. I was considering the Wilson Global Explorer.

2) Small, but high-quality aircraft that would be good for transporting individuals or small teams of about four to places without landing places for private jets. Enough range to potentially cover fairly wide geographic areas with each one would be a nice bonus. Ideally, maintainable without massive infrastructure. Finally, avoid unnecessary technological complexity; i.e. it can have modern avionics and navigation systems, but it can't be a design that will crash immediately if a computer chip in the fuel inection system or engine fails.

3) Much like type 2 above, but able to carry 8-12 passengers and some luggage. Longer range; ideally enough to get from Nassau in the Bahamas to St. Lucia or at least Dominica.

Edit: I've narrowed down the roles required for Kessler's anachronistic transport network of occult investigators in 2018, in post #20. Still looking for guidelines on which contenders to choose for each role and suggestions for any aircraft of which I might not have thought.

Edit Again: I've got a preliminary list of aircraft and home bases for the logistics network up. Still looking for comments, views and answers to a few questions.

*Kessler prefers the term 'Night Riders', but to most people born after the Civil Rights Movement, that term is going to carry some... unfortunate implications.
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Old 01-27-2020, 06:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

Not quite within your parameters, but a PBY might fill the bill for a low tech, reliable amphibian with long range. Seats ten in various positions, and is designed for good visibility--the gun sponsons are very useful. It has just over a 2000 mile range. Add in 4000 pounds in the bomb bay/cargo area and you're in good shape. Even now, some of them are working aircraft.

Then there's the ever-reliable DC-3. There were some floatplane versions, and a more reliable airplane never existed. The floats would cut into its speed and range, but once again, ye can carry plenty of people and stuff.

I happen to LIKE the PBY, and there's always the chance that it's not quite as demilitarized as anyone thought.

Both types are still flying as working aircraft in this day and age, especially the DC-3.
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Old 01-28-2020, 11:21 AM   #3
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Default PBY Catalina

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Originally Posted by YankeeGamer View Post
Not quite within your parameters, but a PBY might fill the bill for a low tech, reliable amphibian with long range. Seats ten in various positions, and is designed for good visibility--the gun sponsons are very useful. It has just over a 2000 mile range. Add in 4000 pounds in the bomb bay/cargo area and you're in good shape. Even now, some of them are working aircraft.[...]

I happen to LIKE the PBY, and there's always the chance that it's not quite as demilitarized as anyone thought.

Both types are still flying as working aircraft in this day and age, especially the DC-3.
There are a lot of things to like about the PBY Catalina for Kessler's purposes, i.e. as a seaplane or amphibious aircraft to transport a team of investigators or Monster Hunters into an area where advanced technology might be unreliable and airfields, runways and other support might not be available.

Googling, I can find that PBYs exist in a wide variety of configurations and models. The PBY-5A or other amphibious variants are the most interesting to me, as I imagine that Kessler uses airfields where they are available.

Important regional offices for Kessler's network of companies and connections exist, in 1995, in Galveston and Houston, TX; New Orleans, LA; Fort Lauderdale, FL; Nassau, Bahamas; and Roseau, St. Lucia.

In addition, there is also an isolated retreat near Rosalie, Dominica where several old friends of Kessler have retired and the families of some of his employees live.

Kessler wouldn't need the military configuration for the PBY Catalina, so no bombs or mounted guns and therefore the plane needs a smaller crew. I can find PBY Catalinas configured for fourteen passengers online, as well as a very tight fit for twenty eight people.

Assuming that you want to configure the PBY Catalina so that it can carry an eight to twelve man team, flight crew (and any necessary support staff) and maybe 100-150 lbs. in gear for each team member, how much extra fuel could you fit and therefore how much range could you squeeze from the aircraft?
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Old 01-29-2020, 05:34 AM   #4
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Default The Douglas DC-3

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Then there's the ever-reliable DC-3. There were some floatplane versions, and a more reliable airplane never existed. The floats would cut into its speed and range, but once again, ye can carry plenty of people and stuff.

[...]

Both types are still flying as working aircraft in this day and age, especially the DC-3.
Ah!

I was already planning for Kessler to own at least one working Douglas DC-3, specifically in order so that a team of 'Night Riders' (Monster Hunters), complete with occultists and magicians who do not trust modern machines, could travel from Galveston to the Caribbean faster than a yacht will take them.

I had no idea that the DC-3 could be converted to amphibious operations.

I wonder how much that would degrade performance. For example, would you lose so much cruising speed that it would take longer to fly an amphibious DC-3 a single leg of maybe 1,000 miles than it would do to fly it 800 miles, land on an airfield and then use a smaller seaplane to get to the destination?
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Old 01-29-2020, 06:30 AM   #5
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Default More Narrowly Defined Routes and Required Ranges

I've done some checking of maps.

I can spot several different roles for aircraft designed to carry around people in Kessler's network. These are all for TL6-7 designs, i.e. not jets, with only the last option retaining the possibility of an older, tested, very reliable jet of some sort, but being more likely to be a more anachronistic aircraft (if we want PCs to ever consider flying in it).

I'm assuming that there are plenty of options for those in Kessler's network who are comfortable with modern aircraft and expect them to fly commercial or charter flights to places like Nassau, Guadeloupe or St. Lucia and then, if necessary, be picked up there in a smaller amphibious aircraft.

A) Short range amphibious craft
Amphibious: Yes --- Range Required: 350 miles --- Extended Range (if practical): 500+ miles
Designed to take off from just north of Rosalie, Dominica (the airport on Dominica is well over an hour of travel away from Kessler's retreat there) and to be able to reach pretty much any destination in the Lesser Antilles. In order to reach Puerto Rico, the range needs to be at least 400-500 miles, depending on where it will land in Puerto Rico.
Obviously, I'd prefer that it be as fast as possible out to the required range, but given the short distances, I'm thinking that the selection here will be based more on what is simplest, most robust, easiest to maintain and operate without much in the way of infrastructure.
Contenders: Antonov An-2 (w/floats), de Havilland Canada DHC-2 Beaver, de Havilland Canada DHC-3 Otter, Grumman Goose, Grumman Widgeon, Helio Courier, Noorduyn Norseman or Republic RC-3 Seabee.
Am I leaving any obvious choices out?

B) Medium Transport
Amphibious: Ideally --- Range Required: 850 miles --- Extended Range (if practical): 1,300 miles
Able to transport an 8-12 men team anywhere in the Greater Antilles from a base somewhere in the Bahamas. Would be very nice if it could get to Galveston and/or the islands of the Lesser Antilles, especially Guadeloupe, Dominica and St. Lucia, in a pinch.
The less infrastructure needed, the better, but also needs to be fast enough to make it practical for 500+ mile flights without wasting too much time; i.e. must not take more time to get you to your destination than using a larger, faster (but still propeller-driven) plane to reach the closest airport and then using a small amphibious craft.
Contenders: Beriev Be-6, Consolidated PBY Catalina, de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, Grumman Goose (w/turboprop conversion).
What else could do this well?

C) Do-Everything Transport
Amphibious: Maybe --- Range Required: 1,250-1,350 miles --- Extended Range (if practical): 2,400 miles
Designed to travel between Galveston and Caribbean destinations, as well as reaching most of the Caribbean from the Bahamas or the Lesser Antilles. At minimum being able to travel between Galveston and Nassau without refueling, and at best, being able to fly directly from Galveston to Rosalie, Dominica.
If not amphibious, at least needs to be able to land nearly anywhere there is any sort of runway.
Contenders: Antonov An-24, Antonov An-26, Beriev Be-6, Beriev Be-12 Chayka, Canadair CL-215, Canadair/Bombardier CL-415, Consolidated PBY Catalina, Douglas DC-3, Grumman HU-16 Albatross, Nord N.1402 Noroit or Short Sunderland/Sandringham.
Anything I'm missing?

D) Long-Range Transport
Amphibious: No --- Range Required: 2,400+ miles --- Extended Range (if practical): 3,000?
The best transport plane available for travelling from airports as far apart as the US Gulf Coast (e.g. Galveston or New Orleans) to destinations anywhere in the Caribbean, like the Lesser Antilles. Doesn't need amphibious capacity, which would likely make it slower and reduce fuel efficiency, but does need to be able to land on small regional airports, like those on Caribbean islands without international airports, and would ideally be able to land on quite short runways.
Will not usually have to carry more than eight to fifteen people, but we want the option of carrying up to twenty or so in reasonable comfort, as well as equipment for a scientific expedition and/or a tactical team.
Needs to have a cruise speed over 200 mph, the faster the better, but can't be too advanced; i.e. it can't be considered a TL8 aircraft, based on design, materials, method of construction and time of construction (stuff with history and emotional connections with humans tends to play better with magical auras).
Is ideally either a very simple, robust Western design of pre-1980s vintage or a simple Soviet design of anywhere up to their fall. That is, we're probably looking at propeller planes like the Douglas DC-3 or similar options, unless there is a TL7 jet of legendary simplicity and robustness.
Also, can't cost anything too ridiculous. I'll allow a budget of several million dollars, maybe even up to 20-30 millions if that gets me something absolutely great and not comparable to cheaper options, but we're not going to be considering anything that costs even close to a real airliner (100 millions dollars). And if I can get a good option for just a $1,000,000; that would leave that much more for several smaller planes for local destinations.
Contenders: Antonov An-10, Antonov An-12, Antonov An-72, Douglas DC-3 (with extra fuel tanks) and probably a lot of options of which I haven't thought.

Airfields: For any non-amphibious transports, they'd have to be able to operate out of the Douglas-Charles Airport on Dominica. Since the 2010s or so, its one asphalt runway was lengthened by 300 m, to 1,756 m (5,761'), at about 70' altitude and facilities for night landings added. The previous length of the runway was enough for regular service by C-47 Dakotas with plenty of room to spare, but I'm not sure about jets.

Airfield facilities at Galveston, Nassau, Fort Lauderdale, Guadeloupe and St. Lucia all offer more modern amenities, so while greater logistical flexibility would be nice, it isn't vital for the long-range transport.
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Old 01-29-2020, 12:56 PM   #6
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

If you're looking at an An-10 or An-12, you're in the C-130 Hercules class, and should look at it as well.
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Old 01-29-2020, 03:40 PM   #7
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Default C-130 Hercules

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If you're looking at an An-10 or An-12, you're in the C-130 Hercules class, and should look at it as well.
Sure, if one can be found for a reasonable price.

The An-10 and An-12 were included because it is canonically established that NPC Contacts of the Patron were involved in obtaining all sorts of ex-Soviet 'surplus' military hardware after the fall of the Soviet Union and I figured these might have been available at some point before 1995 at much more affordable prices than the equivalent Western aircraft.

This size category might be too big, at any rate, for my requirements. Granted, the high cruise speeds and long ranges are nice, but given that I don't expect any need to ever transport more than 30 people with light equipment (i.e. not actual platoon-level firepower), it's probably more important to be able to use shorter runways and need less infrastructure.

In case there is no more practical way to get this sort of range combined with this sort of cruising speed; are C-130 aircraft available at prices more reasonable than four times or more the cost of a former Soviet aircraft of a similar role?

Or, if not, is the C-130 so much more capable, reliable and/or otherwise suitable that it's worth buying it even for many times the price of the rough Soviet equivalent?
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Old 01-28-2020, 01:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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2) Small, but high-quality aircraft that would be good for transporting individuals or small teams of about four to places without landing places for private jets.
DHC-3 Otter. Look through the rest of the DHC range for your other needs.
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Old 01-28-2020, 03:50 AM   #9
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

If Kessler likes his personal comfort he can throw in a second PBY that's been refitted as a flying yacht. https://www.messynessychic.com/2014/...ht-circa-1950/
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Old 01-28-2020, 05:51 AM   #10
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Default Re: Seaplanes or Amphibious Aircraft for Caribbean Adventuring and Logistics

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If Kessler likes his personal comfort he can throw in a second PBY that's been refitted as a flying yacht. https://www.messynessychic.com/2014/...ht-circa-1950/
He does, but in 1995, he's somewhat too old for adventuring and in 2018, he's an invalid.

It's very plausible that Kessler actually owned a personal aircraft or two he bought in the 1960s and early 70s, unconnected to adventuring or the occult, which might have been upgraded as far as personal comfort goes as Kessler grew older and richer.

In the early to mid-60s, Kessler was a freewheeling buccaneer in petrochemicals and minerals, mostly based around Houston and Galveston, but with partners in France and various Francophone nations, as well as investments and business concerns in Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. At that time, Kessler had about an order of magnitude less available cash than the image he liked to project, so while he owned a series of yachts and started building a superyacht in 1965, he'd have looked for a cost-effective solution for private planes at that time.

By 1969, Kessler's actual financial resources had caught up to his image, but he was still only a multi-millionaire. He didn't reach his first billion until some point in the 80s.
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