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Seaplanes are usually considered to fixed-wing aircraft that can land and take off on water, thanks to having floats instead of wheels. When the aircraft fuselage is also designed to be in contact with the water, the result is normally instead called a Flying Boat.

Seaplanes that have wheels embedded in the floats, so that they can take off and land on sea or water, are often referred to as Amphibians. For the purposes of this site, amphibian aircraft are considered a subcategory of seaplanes.

... There is great scope for the seaplane as well as for the flying-boat. Instead of having a hull which rests on the water, the seaplane resembles a land-plane, except that instead of wheels it has an undercarriage composed of two long buoyant floats mounted on struts beneath the body of the machine; it is these floats which support it as it alights on the sea. The seaplane can be made a two-purpose machine. For long stretches of above-water flying it can use its floats, and then when it is passing over land, its floats can be replaced by wheels.

Another dual-purpose type of flying machine is the amphibian, having a boat hull for resting on the surface of the water, and being fitted also with pneumatic-tyred wheels which can be lowered into position for descents on land.

Torpedo-carrying seaplanes of high power have been perfected for attacks on battleships. Capable of diving towards their quarry at a tremendous speed, these machines carry and launch quite a big torpedo.

Another remarkable use for a special type of seaplane is to act as the "eyes" of large submarines. One such submarine-plane is a small craft driven by a low-powered engine. It can be dismantled and stowed away in sections within the hull of the submarine, occupying only a few feet. When the submarine commander needs an aerial scout, the little seaplane can be brought up from below, as the submarine floats on the water, and put together and launched in about five minutes. Fitted with wireless, it is then capable of making a long scouting flight, reporting everything it sees to the submarine below, thus remedying the great defect of the submarine, that of being" blind," owing to its low position when cruising on the water. ...

— , Harry Harper, , The Wonder Book of Aircraft, 8th edition, , ~1934

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