Consolidated PBY Catalina
Consolidated PBY CatalinaConsolidated PBY Catalina

Consolidated PBY 3 View
Consolidated PBY 3 View

Country of Origin:- USA
Crew: 10 pilot, co-pilot, bow turret gunner, flight engineer, radio operator, navigator, radar operator, two waist gunners, ventral gunner
Length: 63 ft 10 7/16 in (19.46 m)
Wingspan: 104 ft 0 in (31.70 m)
Height: 21 ft 1 in (6.15 m)
Weight: Empty: 20,910 lb (9,485 kg) Max. takeoff weight: 35,420 lb (16,066 kg)
Powerplant: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines
Maximum speed: 196 mph (314 km/h)
Cruise speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
Range: 2,520 mi (4,030 km)
Service ceiling: 15,800 ft (4,000 m)
3 .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns (two in nose turret, one in ventral hatch at tail)
2 .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns (one in each waist blister)
4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of bombs or depth charges; torpedo racks were also available

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  Consolidated PBY "Catalina"

The PBY(The designation "PBY" was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing "Patrol Bomber" and Y being the code assigned to Consolidated Aircraft as its manufacturer.) 'Catalina' (a name derived from the island near the consolidated factory at San Diego), is a twin-engine high winged amphibious monoplane with retractable wing tip floats. It features an almost cantilevered wing mounted above a shallow but broad hull on a central pylon housing the flight engineer. The wing has a rectangular centre section and tapered outer panels, all of stressed-skin all-metal construction, though the ailerons and trailing edges are fabric-skinned. A unique feature is the wing-tip floats, which are mounted on pivoted frames, which can be retracted electrically so that in flight the floats form the wingtips. The hull is also all-metal, with a broad semicircular upper surface. Produced by Consolidated Aircraft, it was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport.


The U.S. Navy contracted Consolidated, Martin and Douglas in October 1933 to build competing prototypes for a patrol flying boat. Naval doctrine of the 1930s and 1940s used flying boats in a wide variety of roles that today are handled by multiple special-purpose aircraft. The U.S. Navy had adopted the Consolidated P2Y and Martin P3M models for this role in 1931, but both aircraft were underpowered and hampered by inadequate range and limited payloads. Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their new designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-1, respectively. Although the Douglas aircraft was a good design, the Navy opted for Consolidated's because the projected cost was only $90,000 per aircraft. The XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on 28 March 1935, after which it was transferred to the U.S. Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 was a significant performance improvement over previous patrol flying boats. The Navy requested further development in order to bring the aircraft into the category of patrol bomber, and in October 1935, the prototype was returned to Consolidated for further work, including installation of 900 hp (670 kW) R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces which resolved a problem with the tail becoming submerged on takeoff, which had made takeoff impossible under some conditions. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on 19 May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 mi (2,992 nmi; 5,541 km) was achieved.

Operational use

Most PBY-5s had been retrofitted with self-sealing fuel tanks and some armor protection for pilots and gunners by mid-1942. Nevertheless, the flying boats proved highly vulnerable to enemy fighters, and by early 1945 they were being superseded as daylight reconnaissance aircraft by land-based PV-1 Venturas and PB4Y Liberators and in the antisubmarine role by the PBM Mariner flying boat. A handful of PBY-5A Catalinas equipped with early ASV radar had reached the Pacific by August 1942 and participated in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons. In December 1942, the Americans deployed a full squadron of PBY-5As to operate at night in the Solomon Islands. This "Black Cat" squadron (VP-11) painted its aircraft black, except for a squadron insignia that started out as a basic cat outline. Eyes were added after the second mission, teeth and whiskers after the third, and, allegedly, "anatomical insignia of a more personal nature" after the fourth mission. The Black Cats participated in search, strike, and gunfire spotting missions, taking off at about 2230 each night and returning after daybreak. Over time, other squadrons began flying Black Cat missions, and most of the squadrons in the South and Southwest Pacific had rotated through Black Cat tours by the end of the war. Other Catalinas were equipped for air-sea rescue and were known as "Dumbos," after the Disney cartoon character. Each "Dumbo" carried a doctor and pharmacist's mate. Formal operations began in January 1943 and by 15 August 1943 at least 161 aircrew had been rescued by these aircraft. By the end of the year, three or four "Dumbos" took off with each large air strike to follow the aircraft to their targets and orbit some distance away to rescue any downed airmen. "Dumbo" missions were often very hazardous, taking place close to enemy airspace, but did much to improve aircrew morale. The "Dumbos" came to be heavily escorted and fiercely defended by grateful fighter pilots.
Most countries either purchased or manufactured their own under lisence prior to the outbreak of the war. Nearly all of them were pressed into service upon the outbreak and were used in a variety of roles from anti-submarine warfare to reconnisance to search and rescue, rescuing thousands of downed pilots from all nationalities during the war.

Overseas use

The British Air Ministry purchased a single aircraft for evaluation purposes, but with the outbreak of war anticipated, the trials were terminated prematurely, and an initial 50 aircraft were ordered under as "Catalina I"s. These aircraft were similar to the PBY-5, except for installation of British armament. Initial deliveries of the Royal Air Force's Catalinas began in early 1941 and these entered service with No. 209 and No. 240 squadrons of Coastal Command. In all, nine squadrons of Coastal Command were equipped with the Catalina, as were an additional 12 squadrons overseas. The total acquisition was approximately 700 Catalinas. Catalinas were built in Canada by Boeing and Canadian Vickers as the Canso (PBY-5A) Amphibian and PB2B Flying boat, while Russia built 150 GST Flying Boats, and a further 175 PBY-6A Amphibians were built by Consolidated. Australia(RAAF) had two squadrons of Catalinas when war broke out in the Pacific. These engaged in the same kinds of missions as their allied counterparts, but in addition the Australians began minelaying operations on 23 April 1943, starting in the Bismarcks but later expanding throughout southeast Asia. Each Catalina coiuld carry two magnetic mines. RAAF Catalinas were ferried across the Pacific by a combination of Qantas and RAAF crews and the first aircraft, A24-1, was accepted on 5 February 1941, and the last, A24-386, on 3 September 1945. In all, 168 Catalinas operational at some time in the war. These aircraft include Mks I and II (PBY-5 flying boats), Mk III (PBY-5A amphibians) and the high-tail, radome-fitted Mk IV and Mk VI (Boeing-built PB2B-1, -2). One exception was a Dutch East Indies PBY-3 with sliding gun-panels in June 1942, and was modified to PBY-5 standard with blister-turrets in 1944.

Post War

An Australian PBY made the first trans-Pacific flight across the South Pacific between Australia and Chile in 1946, making numerous stops at islands along the way for refueling, meals, and overnight sleep of its crew. With the end of the war, all of the flying boat versions of the Catalina were quickly retired from the U.S. Navy, but the amphibious(Fixed-wing amphibious aircraft are seaplanes (flying boats and floatplanes) that are equipped with retractable wheels) versions remained in service for some years. The last Catalina in U.S. service was a PBY-6A operating with a Naval Reserve squadron, which was retired from use on 3 January 1957. The Catalina subsequently equipped the world's smaller armed services into the late 1960s in fairly substantial numbers. The U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command used Catalinas (designated OA-10s) in service as scouting aircraft from 1946 through 1947. The Brazilian Air Force flew Catalinas in naval air patrol missions against German submarines starting in 1943. The flying boats also carried out air mail deliveries.
Catalinas subsequently served around the world and were supplied in significant numbers as Lend-Lease to the Allies. The aircraft was manufactured under license by the Canadians and Russians, eventually being manufactured in greater numbers than any other flying boat. Of the few dozen remaining airworthy Catalinas, the majority are in use as aerial firefighting aircraft. China Airlines, the official airline of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was founded with two Catalina amphibians.

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