Sea Control 303 – The Case for Seaplanes with David Alman

By Walker Mills

Host Walker Mills talks with Air National Guard officer David Alman about his essays on seaplanes that have appeared in USNI Proceedings, War on the Rocks, and CIMSEC. Alman explains the history of seaplanes in the navy, what happened to them, and why it’s time to bring them back into the force.

Download Sea Control 303 – The Case for Seaplanes with David Alman


1. “A Japanese Seaplane Could be the Difference Maker for the U.S. Military,” by David Alman, War on the Rocks, November 4, 2021.
2. “Bring Back the Seaplane,” by David Alman, War on the Rocks, July 1, 2020.
3. “Extend Air Wing Range with Seaplane Tankers,” by David Alman, USNI Proceedings, May 2021.
4. “Seaplanes go to War: The Role Seaplanes Played During WWII,” by David Alman, USNI Proceedings, August 2021.
5. “From Sea to Sky,” by David Alman, CIMSEC (December 10, 2019).
6. “Give Amphibians a Second Look,” by Walker Mills and Dylan Phillips-Levine, USNI Proceedings, December 2020.
7. War Plan Orange: The US Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897-1945, by Edward S. Miller, Naval Institute Press 2007.
8. “Implementing Expeditionary ASW,” by Walker Mills, Dylan Phillips-Levine, Trevor Phillips-Levine and Collin Fox, USNI Proceedings, April 2021.
9. “AFSOC plans to demo amphibious MC-130J by end of next year, commander says,” by Leila Barghouty, Defense News, September 20, 2021.
10. “Air Force special operations general visits Japan to gain insight on seaplanes,” by Jonathan Snyder, Stars and Stripes, November 10, 2021.
11. “DARPA Requests Information for Wing-In-Ground Effect Aircraft for the US Military,” by Peter Ong, Naval News, August 24, 2021.
12. “Modern Sea Monsters: Revisiting Wing-in-Ground Effect Aircraft for the Next Fight,” by Walker Mills, Joshua Taylor and Dylan Phillips-Levine, USNI Proceedings, September 2020.

Walker Mills is Co-Host of the Sea Control podcast. Contact the podcast team at

This episode was edited and produced by Marie Williams.

2 thoughts on “Sea Control 303 – The Case for Seaplanes with David Alman”

  1. I think the US-2 is the way to get something going near term to prove the concept. In terms of configuration, maybe our focus on a C-130 seaplane over the years is misplaced at this point. Turboprops are a good way to go, but if we need it to move gas, why not get to work on an A-400 seaplane? It seems that program is finally over the hump and is a better design to convert with control surfaces further off the deck. Yes foreign, but if we develop the seaplane, then its our design too. Europe doesn’t have the need, but we are a market in need. Plus, Korea will want some eventually and not want to buy from Japan.

  2. An interesting topic. My father worked for Glen L Martin’s from 1939 to 1963. He was an inspector on the PBM and P5M (my uncle worked on the Mars) After my father left Martin he worked for Hayes Aircraft in Elizabeth City, NC ( in the old wood blimp hangar) where they refurbished P5Ms for reuse. The ones that were based on Bermuda were the in the worse shape as they did not have fresh water to rinse off the aircraft. Most were severely crorroded for that reason.

    Which is a problem that would make converting an existing airframe difficult. But I am in no way an expert, or even up with modern projects.

    One problem a seaplane has it having a hull that is both seaworthy and aerodynamic, a seemingly mutually exclusive problem.

    (there is a design model, the 162A “Tadpole Clipper” now at the Smithsonian I hear. that was a design test for the PBM)

    I do not know if a stealth requirment is in the mix as well. Though fiberglass (as the Dornier Seastar does with the hull) and other composites could help with cororrosion and stealth.

    But I am just an amateaur who would like to see more of these aircraft. But the reasons they were discarded, sadly, may still be valid.

    PS: I enjoy both the SIMSEC and Bilgepumps podcasts

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