The majority of
Albatrosses were used by the U.S. Air Force, primarily by the former Air
Rescue Service, and initially designated as SA-16. The USAF used the
SA-16 extensively in Korea for combat rescue, where it gained a
reputation as a rugged and seaworthy craft. Later, the redesignated
HU-16B (long-wing variant) Albatross was used by the U.S. Air Force's
Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service and saw extensive combat service
during the Vietnam War.
In addition a small
number of Air National Guard air commando groups were equipped with
HU-16s for covert infiltration and extraction of special forces from
1956 to 1971.
Other examples of
the HU-16 made their way into Air Force Reserve air rescue units prior
to its retirement from USAF service.