Attack from the Sea: A History of the U.S. Navy's Seaplane Striking Force
During the Cold War, the Navy fostered a plan to develop a long-range seaplane that would serve as a viable striking force against the Soviet Union. ... Show synopsis During the Cold War, the Navy fostered a plan to develop a long-range seaplane that would serve as a viable striking force against the Soviet Union. The Navy considered several possible ways to achieve that aim, but the most practical at the time seemed to lie in a sea-based seaplane force that could provide the advantages of strategic surprise and mobility. In the early 1950s the Navy contracted with the Glenn L. Martin Company for the P6M Sea Master, a high-performance jet flying boat, to be integrated into the Seaplane Striking Force (SSF), which was a family of advance water-based aircraft for attack roles backed by surface tenders and submarines. This story shows the strategic and political dilemmas faced by the Navy in the 1950s and how it proposed to resolve them. In the end the seaplane technology could not be delivered to meet the Navy's needs. That in itself is instructive as part of the topic of "disruptive technology," a term in common use today in the Pentagon and taken from a recent book from the Harvard Business School. In the 1950s both the seaplane and the submarine-launched ballistic missile were disruptive--that is they went against the accepted working technology of the time. Only one of them would work out but no one at the time knew which one it would be. This book provides an excellent case study to look at just such important current ideas relating to weapons development.