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SAVOIA-MARCHETTI S-56-B

The American Aeronautical Corporation was the U.S. contractor for the manufacture of the Italian-designed, three-place Savoia-Marchetti S-56-B.The American Aeronautical Corporation was the U.S. contractor for the manufacture of the Italian-designed, three-place Savoia-Marchetti S-56-B. Powered by a 125 hp five-cylinder Kinner radial, this 70 mph amphibious biplane was a beautiful, albeit unique, aircraft. The landing gear was totally manual and, although there was a gear lever inside the cockpit, it was easier to reach over the side and pull the wheels up by hand! (Owner Buzz Kaplan cautioned the author, however, that it was best to wait until the wheels stopped turning!) Also, the starter was a Heywood compressed-air model, which produced a very unusual effect. The engine seemed to start spontaneously, as this system made almost no sound at all. Though the sole-remaining airworthy Savoia-Marchetti is of all-wood construction, there was a later, all-stainless-steel version (an example of which still exists in a museum.)

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