The Grumman J4F Widgeon was a twin engine amphibian originally developed for the civilian market, but that was used as a patrol, anti-submarine and transport aircraft by the US Coast Guard and US Navy.
The Widgeon was originally developed as a civil aircraft, following on from the eight seat Grumman G-21 Goose of 1937. The Grumman G-44 Widgeon was a five seat amphibian, powered by two 200hp Ranger L-440C-5 engines carried in a high mounted wing. It had the standard Grumman retractable undercarriage, with the wheels being pulled up into the side of the fuselage. Although its twin engine configuration makes it look larger, it was actually a smaller aircraft than the single engine Grumman J2F Duck.
The prototype of the G-44 made its maiden flight on 28 June 1940 with Roy Grummand and Bud Gillies at the controls. The first ten aircraft had been sold before the first production aircraft made its maiden flight on 21 February 1941.
The first batch of 44 aircraft was built for the civilian market. However eleven aircraft that had been ordered by a Portuguese customer and four other aircraft were taken over by the USAAF as the Grumman OA-14.
The J4F-1 were the first dedicated military examples of the aircraft. Twenty five aircraft were ordered for the US Coast Guard, and delivered between 7 July 1941 and 29 June 1942. These aircraft were later given light bomb racks under the wings. In August 1942 one of these aircraft, based with Coast Guard Squadron 212 at Houma, Louisiana, achieved the Coast Guard’s first victory over a U-boat, sinking U-166.
The J4F-2 was built for the US Navy, with a total of 131 being built. They were delivered between 13 July 1942 and 26 February 1945. These aircraft could be used as a utility transport, coastal patrol or anti-submarine patrol aircraft (presumably also with the light bomb racks). When used as a transport it could carry a crew of two and three passengers.
Fifteen J4F-2s went to the Royal Navy, where they were originally known as the Gosling, but later became the Widgeon. Most of them were used as communications aircraft in the West Indies.
A number of J4F-2s went to Brazil for use over the South Atlantic.
In 1944 Grumman produced an improved version of the civilian aircraft. This had a modified hull with a deeper keel and better hydrodynamic performance. The first flew on 8 August 1944 and a total of 76 were built between then and 13 January 1949. Some of these aircraft were later given Continental W-670 or Avco Lycoming 90-435A engines.
The G-44A was built under licence as the SCAN-30 by the Societe de Construction Aero-Navale (SCAN), at La Rochelle, France. A total of 41 were built.
The Super Widgeon was an upgrade for the standard Widgeon that was developed by McKinnon Enterprises of Sandy, Oregon. This gave the aircraft two 270hp Avco Lycoming GO-480-B1D engines, improved the hull and interior and added extra fuel storage. More then seventy conversions to this standard were completed.
Engine: Two Ranger L-440C-5 six-cylinder inline piston engines
Power: 200hp each
Crew: 2 with 3 passengers
Span: 40ft 0in
Length: 31ft 1in
Height: 11ft 5in
Empty weight: 3,189lb
Maximum take-off weight: 4,500lb
Max speed: 153mph
Service ceiling: 14,600ft
Maximum Range: 920 miles