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"A flying boat. What next, an underwater plane?"
Comic Book Guy, The Simpsons Game

So, you've got a nice team of heroes, each with a specialty and associated Giant Robot or vehicle. A fiery leader, a strong man, a flying ace, a cute Chick for good measure, and a naval master.

You hit an instant snag, though. Once you are out of range of the ocean, your naval man's mech loses its special value to the team. How does one make up for this Aquaman-level flaw?

Invoke the power of If It Swims, It Flies. Suddenly, that seafaring machine takes to the air.

It's not just mecha, by the way. Anything that looks like an aquatic vehicle can, with the right amount of thought or lack thereof, be converted to something that flies through the air or into space. After all, Space Is an Ocean, isn't it?

Compare with Flying Seafood Special, where the inexplicably flying aquatic entities are living organisms.

Examples of If It Swims, It Flies include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mazinger Z: Mazinger-Z got upgraded to be able to swim (in episode 18) and fly (in episode 34). However its mobility and speed gets severely hindered underwater, its weapons do not work properly, so it may count as a subversion.
    • Great Mazinger: Great Mazinger was also equipped to fly and swim, and faced the same problems its antecessor.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: One of its Mid-Season Upgrade -Marine Spacer- was designed to combining with Grendizer and allow it swim and dive. However it also could fly.
  • Getter Robo: Getter is -literally- built around this concept. Depending on how the three jets combine, the form a different robot, capable to fly on Earth and space, fly or burrow underground, or swim and dive.
  • Combattler V: Battle Marine, One of the machines forms the body of the Humongous Mecha -to be specific, the legs- is able to swim and fly -and it also carries around the Battle Tank, that can not fly on its own).
  • Voltes V: Volt Frigate, the machine forms the legs of Voltes V, also is able to fly and swim.
  • Kamen Rider Decade: Kamen Rider Abyss' Contract Monsters, Abysshammer and Abysslasher, are normally anthropomorphic shark monsters. However, his Final Vent card fuses them into Abyssodon, a gigantic hammerhead/sawshark combo that - you guessed it - swims AND flies.
  • Super Sentai/Power Rangers has a few examples
    • Choujuu Sentai Liveman: Averted: Aqua Dolphin, when not in the water, rolls on the ground.
    • Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger/Power Rangers Wild Force: Gao Shark / Shark Zord fits it to a tee. While on Animeria, it's always shown in the water. The moment it is summoned to earth, it's flying right alongside Gao Eagle. This gets egregious when the Rangers actually mimic their animals' movements in chase scenes (averted in Wild Force by giving them Cool Bikes) and GaoBlue is FLYING beside Yellow (the Eagle).
      • There's also the Sixth Ranger's Hammerhead Shark Zord, though it isn't featured as prominently as the Shark Zord due to not being the main zord for its corresponding ranger. In its first appearance, when the Sixth Ranger is still evil, it actually engages the Shark and Eagle Zords in a midair battle.
    • Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger/Power Rangers Ninja Storm: Zigzagged by Hurricane Dolphin / Dolphin Zord - Stock Footage shows it "swimming" along the ground, but it flies in the occasional fight where the mecha don't immediately combine.
    • Juken Sentai Gekiranger/Power Rangers Jungle Fury: Possibly played straight with Geki Penguin/Penguin Spirit, which flies about on a hover board.
    • Engine Sentai Go-onger/Power Rangers RPM: Played with, as the mecha are animal/vehicle hybrids and flight ability is based on the vehicle half: Birca/Tail Spinner averts it being an orca-cycle and Jumbowhale/Whale Zord justifies it, being a whale-plane. In fact, the Whale Zord is an inversion, as the plane was built and then given its aquatic characteristics. Meta Guy Ziggy even lampshades it, asking "Why'd you make it a whale? Whales don't fly!"
    • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger/Power Rangers Samurai: Thrice over. Kame, Kajiki, and Ika Origami/Turtle, Swordfish, and "Octo" (squid) Zords are all shown flying in combat. Ika is the only one to truly follow the trope though, as it spends it's off time in a fish tank.
    • Tensou Sentai Goseiger: GoseiShark averts it by moving on the ground when not in the water. The Seaick Brothers play it straight a bit, though.
    • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger: The Rangers have GokaiGalleon, as befits a Pirate-themed team. But they're also Space Pirates, so the ship is obviously spaceworthy. In addition, there's GokaiMarine, which at least has shown it can move about in space (as can the other land mecha).
  • The vehicles of the Sea Team from Dairugger XV, a.k.a. Vehicle Voltron, can all fly. Then again, so can the Land Team's.
  • The God Phoenix in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman. Its launch base is underwater.
  • Inverted in Gurren Lagann: the Dai-Gurren, which looks like a ship with legs and a torso, was originally a surface battleship. Later, Leeron converted it to be seaworthy (by tacking on a giant oar paddle and a pair of flippers...), though they couldn't go very deep. Even later, it nabbed one of the flight spheres of the Dai-Gunten, Cytomander's Flying Aircraft Carrier, gaining the ability of unassisted flight... even though Parallel Works 8 shows us hundreds of these battling the Anti-Spirals in high Earth orbit.
    • Similar inversion occured in the final season: while Ganmen were shown earlier as not being water-proof, they CAN fly and fight in space. The Gurren-Lagann doesn't have this problem.
    • A third inversion: the Moon-sized Chouginga Dai-Gurren can apparently operate as a submarine, even though there's no ocean big enough for it... though when they got caught in the ocean-like Death Spiral Field, the ship was almost crushed by the pressure.
  • Space Battleship Yamato has it both ways: it is an ex-sea battleship that was reconfigured into a space battleship, but it can still go on water, and can indeed go underwater and survive if absolutely necessary.
  • Super Atragon: The undersea battleship Ra is given exactly two scenes where it is shown flying; neither instance of her flight has any plot relevance.
  • Taken to ridiculous levels in Pokémon: The Movie 2000, where Melody's sailboat--which is apparently just a regular sailboat--is made to fly above the waves when they need to go faster. Complete with the following dialogue:

 Ash: This thing flies?!?

Melody: If you know how.


Comic Books



  • In Harry Harrison's novel The Daleth Effect, the main characters use the titular effect to modify a mini-sub to fly to the Moon in 4 hours.
  • The climax of The Course of Empire features modern submarines converted to space warships.
  • As seen in the Republic Commando Series, the Mon Calamari have developed a hyperspace-capable submarine.
  • At least one Animorphs book had the team on a spacecraft that went up into space, then came plummeting downward and hurtled through the ocean to get to the underwater enterance of the Yeerk Pool.

Live Action TV

  • The Delta Flyer of Star Trek: Voyager is capable of surviving deep space pressure as well able to submerge in the depths of an alien ocean world. Justified in this case since that's exactly why they built it, to have a more versatile shuttle craft capable of handling a wider variety of missions than the standard issue ones.
  • The small craft from Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a flying submarine. The "main" submarine S.S.R.N Seaview, however, didn't fly.
  • This is a major plot point in the Daniel Pinkwater book Yobgorgle: Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario. This book's version of the Flying Dutchman cannot bring any ship of his, including the pig-shaped submarine he currently lives on, within a certain distance of the shore.[1] The protagonist figures out that if they get the sub to hydroplane fast enough to fly it won't be a ship, it'll be an airplane, which doesn't fall under the rules of the curse.

Tabletop Games

  • Inverted in Cthulhu Tech, where every mech that can fly can at least move underwater. Not so for aquatic mechs, but, oddly enough, any mech that can swim can at least jump really high.
  • The French Magenta class Battleship from Dystopian Wars . It's a Battleship that can leviate via a "Gravity Nullification Drive" to become an Aircraft to strike fear into your opponent's air force.

Video Games

  • X-COM: Terror From The Deep features USOs, Unidentified Submersed Objects (basically, alien submarines), that can fly over land. This is mostly because the game is the original X-Com with new sprites. Oh, and your own flying subs cannot use their weapons unless they're submerged.
    • It is at least justified in-game, as the submersibles used by X-Com are equipped with what are essentially underwater jet engines. When they go above water, they're just regular old jet engines.
  • Final Fantasy: Many of the airships in the older games look as if they were ships, of the seafaring variety, with the sails replaced by propellors. You explicitly change your normal ship into an airship when you no longer need a boat in Final Fantasy III.
    • In Final Fantasy V, the airship can go from a normal ship to a flying airship mode and back.
      • And once it's in the water, it can change further into a submarine. Pressing the "lift-off" button while sailing asks you whether to go "up" (into the sky) or "down" (into the ocean.)
    • The steam-powered airship Hilde Garde III in Final Fantasy IX is similarly built from the hull of the Blue Narciss, a sailing vessel.
  • Golden Sun 2: You get a ship that is upgraded to an airship... by adding giant flapping wings. Said wings are explicitly powered by the party's magic - specifically, an ability called Hover.
  • Xenogears: The Yggdrasil stars as a Sand Sub, that can only work on sand. Then it gets fixed after Id sinks it. Later it gets the ability to fly.
  • The Empire of the Rising Sun in Command and Conquer Red Alert 3 uses the Sea-wing/Sky-wing, a fast anti-air submarine that can transform into anti-infantry airplanes. And by "transform", we really just mean "take off"; the two forms are identical.
  • Vehicles in Banjo-Kazooie Nuts and Bolts tend to turn out this way. Plane-ish vehicles tend to be able to navigate underwater easily (if they have the underwater capable cockpits) and Submarine vehicles tend to fly well (if given wings). Make a boat. Then add wings to it. Bam, flying boat!
  • In the point-and-click adventure game AmerZone, you operate a vehicle that not only invokes this trope, but does so in multiple ways: it can fly as either a prop plane or helicopter, navigate the water as a motorboat, sailboat, or fan-propelled swamp boat, and drag itself along the river with a grappling hook.
  • In Midwinter II: Flames of Freedom, you have Flying Submarines, which look like manta-rays.


Western Animation

  • The T-Sub of Teen Titans quickly became the T-Ship as more episodes took them into space. Cyborg Lampshades this the first time. "The T-Sub was made for deep sea, not deep space!" He makes it work though.
  • Depth Charge of Beast Wars has a manta ray beast-mode, and a flight alt-mode. His flight alt-mode, however, is based of the ship he used to come to earth in the first place. True of most Transformers with swimming alt-modes. Most sharkformers can fly, and the Energon toy-only Transformer Sharkticon turns into a submarine/spaceship.
    • Several of the Beast Wars Fuzors, which are biological mashups of two animals, are part aquatic and part flying animal, in order to avert this. This results in the piranha/bee and hammerhead shark/falcon, which look about as cool as they sounds.
  • Syndrome's manta ray jet/submarine from The Incredibles.
  • One Shen Gon Wu from Xiaolin Showdown is a large manta ray-shaped vehicle that can either become a jet or a submarine.
  • The Ketaks (Atlantean flying vehicles shaped like various sea creatures) from Disney's Atlantis the Lost Empire. They are apparantly activated by having a small Atlantean Crystal inserted into a slot, and turned back quarter-way, much like how an actual car is started up.
  • Inverted in Futurama. The Planet Express Ship was designed for space, which means it's rated for between zero and one atmospheres of pressure. It manages to survive an unplanned trip to the bottom of the ocean.

Real Life

  1. Before you ask, no he can't swim and yes a life preserver or another person helping him swim counts as a "ship".