This week came the sad news that Bombardier has paused the CL-415 amphibious water-bomber programme pending further orders. In firefighting, true amphibians are an exclusive breed. Here are 10.

1. Bombardier CL-415

Formerly the Canadair CL-415 SuperScooper and based on the CL-215 flying boat, Bombardier describes the machine as “the industry’s benchmark amphibious aircraft and the backbone of firefighting missions around the globe”. Around 90 built since 1993.

Bombardier CL-415 640 c Maarten Visser + wikimedia

Bombardier CL-415

Maarten Visser/wikimedia commons

2, 3. Bombardier CL-215 and CL-215T

The “T” variant was a turboprop conversion option that became the CL-215; 125 were built between 1969 and 1990.

Canadair CL-215 Hellenic AF2 640 c Badseed + wikim

Bombardier CL-215

Badseed/wikimedia commons

4. Martin JRM Mars

This four-engined beast was first conceived for the US Navy during the Second World War, with seven built as long-range patrollers and some later converted for firefighting.

Martin Mars 640 CoulsonFlyingTankerLakeElsinore050

Martin JRM Mars; probably last in service


5. Beriev Be-200

Designed by Beriev and built by Irkut, the jet-powered Be-200 can carry 12,000litres/3,170 USgal of water or 72 passengers. First flight 1998; nine were built.

Beriev Be-200 waterbomber 640 c Dmitriy Pichugin +

Beriev Be-200

Dmitriy Pichugin/wikimedia commons

6. Beriev Be-12

This Soviet-era turboprop dates to 1960, with some 150 built from 1973. The Soviet navy used them for anti-submarine patrols as well as search-and-rescue missions, with some examples eventually converted to waterbombers.

Beriev Be-12 Gelenzhik 2Sept2004 640 c Yevgeny Pas

Beriev Be-12

Yevgeny Pashnin/wikimedia commons

7. ShinMaywa US-1

The Japanese-made turboprop was innovative when introduced in the late 1960s; Japan’s self-defence forces used them for antisubmarine and search-and-rescue duties, and at least one was converted for firefighting.

ShinMaywa US-1A c US Marine Corps + Lance Cpl. Tod

ShinMaywa US-1A

US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Todd Michalek/wikimedia commons

8. ShinMaywa US-2

Bigger than the US-1 it was based on, this four-engined machine also boasts exceptional short take-off and landing performance. Four built since 2003.

ShinMaywa US-2 taking off at Atsugi 640 c Ken H +

ShinMaywa US-2

Ken H/wikimedia commons

9. Harbin SH-5

China’s entry in the category first flew in 1976; six built, one converted for firefighting, classic Chinese styling.

Harbin SH-5 640 c tienvijftien + wikimedia commons

Harbin SH-5

tienvijftien/wikimedia commons

10. Consolidated PBY Catalina

The amphibian most people think of when it comes to amphibians was conceived for US Navy use as war against Japan loomed in the Pacific. The machine proved hugely versatile, and some remain in service as firefighters.

catalina flying boat c Howard R Hollem for the Uni

Catalina: good in a firefight...

Howard R Hollem/United States Office of War Information/wikimedia commons

PBY-6A Catalina 640 c US NAVY

...or for fighting fires

US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M Yates