Diesel-era Floatplane Leviathan

The CANT Z.511 floatplane, designed by Filippo Zappata

The CANT Z.511 floatplane was conceived in the mid-1930s as a long-range mail and passenger carrier that would fly between Italy and South America. Its size and performance were outstanding for those days — wingspan: 39 meters; gross weight: 34 metric tons; cruise speed 330 km/h; range: 4500 km.

However, the outbreak of World War Two shut down Italy’s transoceanic air traffic and put the venture on hold. The prototype found use in the military and, purportedly, there was a Ian-Fleming-ish plan to let it transport minisubmarines to New York for a daring raid on the city’s huge port. However, Italy surrendered in 1943 before the plan could be put into action.

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