The Curtiss F-5L flying boat probably has the most convoluted history of any aircraft.1 Its predecessors saw action in the Great War (1914–18) and established the flying boat as a key component of naval aviation. Historian Kenneth M. Molson wrote:
One of the most significant aviation developments of World War I was that of the large flying boat, which advanced from a low powered, relatively frail machine to one with excellent seaworthiness and ability to carry out regular patrols of 5–6 hours, and occasionally longer, over the North Sea. In addition, encounters with Zeppelins, German seaplanes and submarines showed that these machines were able to give an excellent account of themselves in engagements with the enemy.2
1. This column is based in part on G. R. Duval, British Flying-Boats and Amphibians 1909−1952 (London: Putnam, 1966); Kenneth Munson, Flying Boats and Seaplanes (London: Blandford, 1971), 113−15; and Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1968), 130−32.
2. Kenneth M. Molson, “The Felixstowe F5L,” Cross & Cockade: Great Britain Journal 9, no. 2 (1978): 49.
3. See “A Transatlantic Flying Boat” [America flying boats], Naval History (June 2008), 66−67.