In the realm of speed, a float plane seems to be a contradiction. Maybe that's why the speed record for piston-powered seaplanes/floatplanes--~440 mph--remains unbroken since 1934!
This is the aircraft that set that record, the Macchi-Castoldi MC-72. In fact, it held the world speed record for any aircraft until 1941.
Boasting two V-12 engines mounted inline with each other, contra-rotating propellers to cancel out the massive torque, and flush-mounted radiators in the floats, the aircraft was a technological marvel of its day. As with any cutting-edge technology, however, the teething pains were many and varied.
The all-out speed record set by the MC-72 was broken years later--by a jet! The seaplane speed was finally exceeded in 1961--also by a jet. But neither aircraft had the beautiful lines and stage presence of the Macchi-Castoldi MC-72.
The January 2014 LOOTM
Happy New Year!