The Grumman G-21 Goose, produced by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation from 1937 to 1945, is one of the most illustrious and versatile amphibious aircraft in aviation history. Originally envisioned as a “flying yacht” for wealthy businessmen commuting from their Long Island mansions to their Manhattan offices, the Grumman G-21 eventually served a variety of roles, from military service to commercial use as an airliner.
Nicknamed the “Goose” for its amphibious capabilities, the aircraft was first flown in 1937 and represented several firsts for Grumman. It was Grumman’s first monoplane, its first twin-engine aircraft, and its first aircraft used as a commercial airliner.
The Goose was designed to be a nearly all-metal, and was powered by two 450-horsepower Pratt & Whitney nine-cylinder radial engines, which were mounted on the wings’ leading edges. At more than 38 feet long and 12 feet in height, the Goose offered room for four to six passengers and two flight crew members. Floats installed beneath each wing allowed the aircraft to gracefully land on water.
Due to the Goose’s versatile and spacious design, the U.S. Army adopted several variants of the G-21 for transport service during World War II, operating as OA-9s and OA 13s. The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard also used 169 variants of the G-21 (designated as JRFs) for use in transport, rescue missions, and antisubmarine efforts. According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, a total of eleven nations used the Goose for air force and naval duties.
Production of the Goose ended in 1945, with just 345 G-21s manufactured. After the end of World War II, the Goose was again adapted for commercial airline use in the Caribbean, California, and Alaska. It is estimated that just 30 vintage “Gooses” remain in service for both commercial purposes and private ownership, and several have been modified with turboprop engines for improved performance.
Featured image: By USN (Naval Air Station Jacksonville photo CNIC 042527) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This photo of a JRF-5 Navy Goose was taken in 1941 by the US Navy and is in the public domain.