CLASSICS | HALL PH- 3 FLYING BOAT
BY WARREN E. THOMPSON
In the mid-1920s, the U.S. Navy put out a request for a twin-engine flying
boat that would have plenty of range while carrying an e;ective payload of fuel
and light ordnance. ;e Hall-Aluminum Aircraft Corporation, located in Bristol,
Pennsylvania, came up with a design that was well received by the Navy and a
contract for a flying model was signed in December 1927 that would result in
the ultimate production run of 24 airframes. ;e prototype was identified as the
XPH-1 and its first flight was recorded in December 1929. ;e original design had
its roots all the way back to World War I with the old Felixstowe flying boat.
One of the Hall long-range patrol
planes prepares to fly a lengthy
anti-submarine patrol o; the
coast of North Carolina during
the early months of World War
II. Note the load of depth charges
that would be used to attack
any German submarines that
were spotted. (Photo courtesy of
;e 1920s were rather stagnant as far as developing new designs
mainly due to the fact that there wasn’t much pressure on any of the
manufacturers since the war to end all wars had recently concluded.
Carrier aviation was just beginning to get some attention and with
Germany’s economy in free fall and Japan still dormant, there seemed
to be no threats in sight. However, the Navy and Coast Guard were
looking for a flying boat and in 1930, Hall Corporation received a
contract for nine production PH-1s. ;is would be the beginning of
three production models: the Dash-1, Dash-2 and finally, the Dash- 3.
All of these would carry a crew of six.
During its brief production run, the only users of this aircraft were
the U. S. Navy and U. S. Coast Guard. ;e PH-1 model was the version
purchased by the Navy and featured enclosed cockpits for the pilots. It
was equipped with two 620-horsepower Wright R-1820-86 engines.
;ere were a total of nine Dash-1s built and delivered. ;e later two
versions were all used by the Coast Guard. ;ere were nine PH-2s
delivered to that branch followed by seven PH-3s. Normally, the PH
series were armed with four flexibly mounted . 30 caliber machine
guns and also were able to carry up to 1,000 pounds of Depth Charges
that were widely used against German U-boats in World War II.
Beginning in 1934, the Coast Guard received seven modified PH-1s
that were equipped with better engines—two Wright-1820F-51s.
;e armament (guns) that was installed in the Navy rendition was
removed. Cruising speed on both of the latter two models was about
136mph (118 knots). ;e main requirement for the PH- 3 was for it
to have long-range capabilities that could extend as far out as 1,000
miles from its base and was able to land in rough seas during rescue
missions. All of the PHs saw heavy action in World War II especially on
anti-submarine duty. ;ey were very e;ective during the spring and
summer of 1942 when they went up against a large pack of enemy
submarines during the Germans’ Operation Drumbeat o; the coast
of North Carolina. By the end of 1943, the Coast Guard had small
detachments scattered along the East Coast. Due to newer patrol
aircraft being available, the Hall PH- 3 was retired in 1944. ;