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The Hall Aluminum Aircraft Corporation PH flying boats are an obscure type, little known even among aviation enthusiasts today. Nine PH-1s were built for the U.S. Navy, entering service with VP-8 in 1932. In 1936 the U.S. Coast Guard ordered nine of the PH-2 “Hall Boats”. (All photographs from the NASM Rudy Arnold Collection)
The aircraft were finished in the standard “Yellow Wings” scheme of the 1930s with Coast Guard rudder stripes. V164 was lost along with three of her crewmen on 15JUL39 while attempting to evacuate a crewman with pneumonia from the research ship Atlantis off New York City.
This photograph of V164 reveals several interesting details of her paint scheme. Note the black walkways on her fuselage and on the lower wing under the engines. The small trim elevators are also of interest.
Three USCG Hall PH-2s in echelon formation pose for the camera. The PH-2s were powered by two Wright R-1820 Cyclone radial engines each producing 750 horsepower. These gave the flying boats a modest maximum speed of 160 mph (257 km/h) but an endurance of 20 hours.
The USCG ordered an additional nine Hall PH-3s which entered service in 1941. These featured a revised cockpit enclosure and more aerodynamic engine nacelles, along with gun positions in the nose and aft of the wing.
After the U.S. entered the war the Coast Guard was administratively transferred from the Department of the Treasury to the U.S. Navy, the Hall Boats receiving standard U.S. Navy camouflage and markings. Depth charge racks were fitted under the lower wings and the aircraft were used for anti-submarine patrols along the Atlantic coast in addition to their rescue duties.
As was common with most aircraft which were in service prior to the change, the Hall Boats retained the pre-war convention propeller warning stripes of red-yellow-blue.
Here a PH-3 has entered the water at the beginning of another patrol as the beaching crew remove the beaching gear (wheels) from the hull. Four depth charges are clearly visible under the lower wing.
A PH-3 in flight demonstrating the effectiveness of the Blue Gray camouflage.
A PH-3 drops a depth charge for the photographer. While the Hall Boats made no claims for U-boats destroyed, they were quite active in their original role and performed many rescues. They normally carried a crew of six and could hold up to twenty additional passengers.
The nose gunner at his position. He was obviously exposed to the elements when manning the gun, and he was tethered to the aircraft with a broad leather belt and cable, just visible around his waist.
An interesting in-flight sequence of the nose gunner firing his weapon, which has been fitted with a telescopic sight and a unique ammunition container.
Another view from a different angle which shows details of the wingtip float and insignia placement. The markings are standard for 1942-43 but there are no squadron codes or individual aircraft numbers applied.
The Hall Boats served the USCG into 1944 when they were replaced with PBY Catalina and PBM Mariner flying boats.