The Northrop N-3PB was a sleek single engine low wing float plane with a crew of three. The Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service was the only customer of the type. Norway was in need of a replacement for the Naval Air Service's MF-11 biplane patrol aircraft and ordered 24 aircraft on 12 March 1940.
The Northrop N-3PB was the first aircraft designed by the newly formed Northrop Aircraft, Inc. that was actually produced by that company. The three-place, single-engine, cantilevered low-wing monoplane patrol bomber had two floats attached by full cantilever pedestals to the left and right wings.
Within the short span of eight months following the order, the first production aircraft rolled off the Northrop assembly line. The first flight test took place on 1 November 1940 at Lake Elsinore, California. The Northrop N-3PB was soon identified as the world's fastest military sea plane (at that time). In May of 1941 eighteen N-3PBs arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland. Twelve of these aircraft were immediately assigned to Norwegian 330 Squadron (based in Iceland). During the war, one of the N-3PBs (No. 320 -"U") was lost on a ferry flight while crash-landing on a frozen river in Iceland. In the spring of 1943, the squadron moved to Scotland. Here they were re-equipped with the Short Sunderland flyingboats. During April and May of 1943, a number of N-3PBs were transferred from Akurairy and Budareiry to Reykjavik to be scrapped. On April 21, 1943, N-3PB No. 320 -"U", took off from Budareiry to Reykjavik. The pilot onboard was Wsewolod Bulukin and the wireless operator was Leif Rustad. On route to Reykjavik, the crew encountered heavy snow-showers. They were forced to land on the glacier river Thjorsa. The aircraft was wrecked during the landing. Fortunately, both crew members swam ashore to safety, and were able to get back to their squadron within a few days. Meanwhile, back in the river, the N-3PB sank down into mud and water.
Thirty-six years later the aircraft was recovered, and in November 1979, the wreck was flown to the Northrop Aircraft Division plant at Hawthorne, California to be fully restored. A year later, on November 10th, 1980, the only remaining example of the Northrop N-3PB was rolled out, following a complete restoration by volunteers of the The Western Museum of Flight. After restoration, the N-3PB was donated to Norway, and is currently on display in Oslo, Norway.
Crew: Three (pilot, navigator & wireless operator)
Length: 38 ft (11.58 m)
Wingspan: 48 ft 11 in (14.91 m)
Height: 12 ft (3.66 m)
Wing area: 376.8 ft² (34.93 m²)
Empty weight: 6,190 lb (2,808 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 10,600 lb (4,808 kg)
Powerplant: 1× Wright Cyclone air-cooled radial engine, 1,200 hp (895 kW)
Maximum speed: 223 knots (257 mph, 414 km/h)
Cruise speed: 186 knots (215 mph, 348 km/h)
Range: 869 nm (1,000 mi, 1,609 km)
Service ceiling: 28,400 ft (7,392 m)
4 × .50 in machine guns
2 × .30 in machine guns
1 × 2,000 lb torpedo or equivalent weight of bombs