N-3PB file photo [32370]


ManufacturerNorthrop Corporation
Primary RoleSeaplane
Maiden Flight1 November 1940


ww2dbaseThe Northrop N-3PB, designed by John "Jack" Northrop while he was part of the Douglas Aircraft Company, was a cantilever low-wing three-seat monoplane floatplane powered by a Wright Cyclone radial engine. In 1940 the Norwegian Purchasing Commission placed an order for 24 aircraft but these had not been delivered before the Germans invaded the country. Making its maiden flight in November 1940, the N-3PB prototype aircraft attained a speed of 257 miles per hour, which was then claimed to be the fastest military floatplane. The Norwegian government in exile, nonetheless, continued with the order and by April 1941 all the aircraft had been delivered to "Little Norway", the Norwegian base in Toronto, Canada for future use on coastal reconnaissance missions. One squadron of the Royal Norwegian Naval Air Service operated from Iceland as No. 330 Squadron of RAF Coastal Command. They flew the N-3PB aircraft from improvised coastal sites during 1941-42 on anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties. All maintenance had to be performed in the open, often under extremely harsh environmental conditions, and several were lost making water landings in severe Arctic weather, although there were no aircraft lost as a result of enemy action. By the summer of 1942 it was clear that these floatplanes were unsuitable for long-range convoy escort and the machines were subsequently relegated to training duties. Of the 24 aircraft, two survived the war and were eventually scrapped in Norway in 1949 and 1956.

World Aircraft Information Files 902/17 (Aerospace Publishing Periodical)
Chris Chant, Aircraft of World War II (Dempsey Parr, 1999)

Last Major Revision: Jan 2023

N-3PB Timeline

1 Nov 1940 N-3PB prototype seaplane, developed from the A-17 design, made its maiden flight.
21 Apr 1943 A N-3PB floatplane piloted by Lieutenant W. W. Bulukin made a force landing in poor weather in eastern Iceland. The wreck was later recovered in 1979, sent to Northrop Corporation in California in the United States for restoration, and gifted to the government of Norway in Nov 1980.


MachineryOne Wright GR-1820-G205A Cyclone 9cyl air-cooled single-row radial engine rated at 1,100hp
Armament4x0.50in wing machine guns, 1x0.30in dorsal machine gun, 1x0.30in ventral machine gun, 1x2,000lb torpedo or equivalent weight of bombs or depth charges
Span14.91 m
Length10.97 m
Height3.55 m
Wing Area35.01 m²
Weight, Empty2,808 kg
Weight, Loaded3,856 kg
Weight, Maximum4,808 kg
Speed, Maximum414 km/h
Speed, Cruising296 km/h
Service Ceiling7,315 m
Range, Normal1,609 km


N-3PB aircraft of Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service in flight over Lake Elsinore, California, United States, early 1941N-3PB aircraft of No. 330 (Norwegian) Squadron RAF, Iceland, Oct 1941N-3PB floatplane of No. 330 (Norwegian) Squadron RAF in flight near Akureyri, Iceland, Oct 1941N-3PB aircraft of No. 330 (Norwegian) Squadron RAF being used to transport a sick civilian woman, Reykjavik, Iceland, May 1942
See all 5 photographs of N-3PB Seaplane

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N-3PB Seaplane Photo Gallery
N-3PB aircraft of Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service in flight over Lake Elsinore, California, United States, early 1941
See all 5 photographs of N-3PB Seaplane

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