PBY Catalina
Overview
 

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

 of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft
Consolidated Aircraft
The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company's liquidation and Fleet's purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors. Consolidated became...

. It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. PBYs served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. In the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 and later in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 their designation was OA-10. A Canadian-built PBY would be familiarly called a Canso.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 missions (especially air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships...

), and cargo transport
Cargo aircraft
A cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are usually devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo...

.
Encyclopedia

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...

 of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft
Consolidated Aircraft
The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company's liquidation and Fleet's purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors. Consolidated became...

. It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. PBYs served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces
United States armed forces
The United States Armed Forces are the military forces of the United States. They consist of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard.The United States has a strong tradition of civilian control of the military...

 and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. In the United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 and later in the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 their designation was OA-10. A Canadian-built PBY would be familiarly called a Canso.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare
Anti-submarine warfare is a branch of naval warfare that uses surface warships, aircraft, or other submarines to find, track and deter, damage or destroy enemy submarines....

, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue
Search and rescue
Search and rescue is the search for and provision of aid to people who are in distress or imminent danger.The general field of search and rescue includes many specialty sub-fields, mostly based upon terrain considerations...

 missions (especially air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships...

), and cargo transport
Cargo aircraft
A cargo aircraft is a fixed-wing aircraft designed or converted for the carriage of goods, rather than passengers. They are usually devoid of passenger amenities, and generally feature one or more large doors for the loading and unloading of cargo...

. The PBY was the most successful aircraft of its kind; no other flying boat was produced in greater numbers. The last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. Even today, over 70 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as an airtanker in aerial firefighting
Aerial firefighting
Aerial firefighting is the use of aircraft and other aerial resources to combat wildfires. The types of aircraft used include fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Smokejumpers and rappellers are also classified as aerial firefighters, delivered to the fire by parachute from a variety of fixed-wing...

 operations all over the world.

The initialism
Acronym and initialism
Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations formed from the initial components in a phrase or a word. These components may be individual letters or parts of words . There is no universal agreement on the precise definition of the various terms , nor on written usage...

 of "P.B.Y." was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922
1922 United States Navy aircraft designation system
Until 1962, the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corps used a system to designate their aircraft that included information about a craft's role and its manufacturer.-The system:...

; PB representing "Patrol Bomber" and Y being the code used for the aircraft's manufacturer, Consolidated Aircraft
Consolidated Aircraft
The Consolidated Aircraft Corporation was founded in 1923 by Reuben H. Fleet, the result of the Gallaudet Aircraft Company's liquidation and Fleet's purchase of designs from the Dayton-Wright Company as the subsidiary was being closed by its parent corporation, General Motors. Consolidated became...

.

Background

The PBY was originally designed to be a patrol bomber
Patrol bomber
A maritime patrol aircraft , also known as a patrol aircraft, maritime reconnaissance aircraft, or by the older American term patrol bomber, is a fixed-wing aircraft designed to operate for long durations over water in maritime patrol roles - in particular anti-submarine, anti-ship and search and...

, an aircraft with a long operational range intended to locate and attack enemy transport ships at sea in order to compromise enemy supply lines. With a mind to a potential conflict in the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, where troops would require resupply over great distances, the U.S. Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 in the 1930s invested millions of dollars in developing long-range flying boats for this purpose. Flying boats had the advantage of not requiring runway
Runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...

s, in effect having the entire ocean available. Several different flying boats were adopted by the Navy, but the PBY was the most widely used and produced.

Although slow and ungainly, PBYs distinguished themselves in World War II as exceptionally reliable. Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 armed forces used them successfully in a wide variety of roles that the aircraft was never intended for. They are remembered by many veterans of the war for their role in rescuing downed airmen, in which they saved the lives of thousands of aircrew downed over water. PBY airmen called their aircraft the "cat" on combat missions and "Dumbo" in air-sea rescue service.

Development

As American dominance in the Pacific Ocean began to face competition from Japan in the 1930s, the U.S. Navy contracted Consolidated Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft Corporation in October 1933 to build competing prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

s 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
Consolidated P2Y
-Bibliography:*Donald, David. The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. Etobicoke, Ontario: Prospero Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.*Eden, Paul and Soph Moeng. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. London: Amber Books Ltd., 2002. ISBN 0-7607-3432-1....

 and Martin P3M models for this role in 1931, but both aircraft proved to be underpowered and hampered by short ranges and low maximum payloads.

Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-1
Douglas P3D
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography*Creed, Roscoe. PBY: The Catalina Flying Boat. Shrewsbury, UK:Airlife Publishing, 1986. ISBN 0-906393-60-4.*Francillon, René J. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft since 1920. London:Putnam, 1979. ISBN 0-370-00050-1....

, respectively. Consolidated's XP3Y-1 was an evolution of the XPY-1 design that had originally competed unsuccessfully for the P3M contract two years earlier and of the XP2Y design that the Navy had authorized for a limited production run. Although the Douglas aircraft was a good design, the Navy opted for Consolidated's because the projected cost was only $90,000 per aircraft.

Consolidated's XP3Y-1 design (company Model 28) was revolutionary in a number of ways. The aircraft had a parasol wing
Parasol wing
A parasol wing monoplane is an aircraft design in which the wing is not mounted directly to the fuselage, but rather, the fuselage is supported beneath it by a set of struts, called cabane struts...

 with internal bracing that allowed the wing to be a virtual cantilever, except for two small streamlined
Streamliner
A streamliner is a vehicle incorporating streamlining in a shape providing reduced air resistance. The term is applied to high-speed railway trainsets of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains". Less commonly, the term is applied to fully faired recumbent bicycles...

 struts on each side. Stabilizing floats, retractable in flight to form streamlined wingtips, were another aerodynamic innovation, a feature licensed from the Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe
Saunders-Roe Limited was a British aero- and marine-engineering company based at Columbine Works East Cowes, Isle of Wight.-History:The name was adopted in 1929 after Alliot Verdon Roe and John Lord took a controlling interest in the boat-builders S.E. Saunders...

 company. The two-step hull design was similar to that of the P2Y, but the Model 28 had a cantilever cruciform tail
Cruciform tail
The cruciform tail is an aircraft empennage configuration which, when viewed from the aircraft's front or rear, looks much like a cross. The usual arrangement is to have the horizontal stabilizer intersect the vertical tail somewhere near the middle, and above the top of the fuselage.Often this...

 unit instead of a strut-braced twin tail
Twin tail
A twin tail is a specific type of vertical stabilizer arrangement found on the empennage of some aircraft. Two vertical stabilizers — often smaller on their own than a single conventional tail would be — are mounted at the outside of the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer...

. Cleaner aerodynamics gave the Model 28 better performance than earlier designs.

The prototype was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-54 Twin Wasp engine
Engine
An engine or motor is a machine designed to convert energy into useful mechanical motion. Heat engines, including internal combustion engines and external combustion engines burn a fuel to create heat which is then used to create motion...

s mounted on the wing’s leading edges. Armament comprised four 0.30 in (7.62 mm) Browning machine guns and up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs.

The XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on 28 March 1935, after which it was transferred to the US Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 soon proved to have significant performance improvements over current 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 (671 kW) R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on 19 May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 miles (5,541 km) was achieved.

The XPBY-1 was delivered to VP-11F in October 1936. The second squadron to be equipped was VP-12, which received the first of its aircraft in early 1937. The second production order was placed on 25 July 1936. Over the next three years, the PBY design was gradually developed further and successive models introduced.

Mass-produced U.S. Navy variants*

Model Production period and distinguishing features Quantity
PBY-1 September 1936–June 1937
Original production model.
60
PBY-2 May 1937–February 1938
Minor alterations to tail structure, hull reinforcements.
50
PBY-3 November 1936–August 1938
Higher power engines.
66
PBY-4 May 1938–June 1939
Higher power engines, propeller spinners, acrylic glass
Acrylic glass
Poly is a transparent thermoplastic, often used as a light or shatter-resistant alternative to glass. It is sometimes called acrylic glass. Chemically, it is the synthetic polymer of methyl methacrylate...

 blisters over waist guns (some later units).
32
PBY-5 September 1940–July 1943
Higher power engines (using higher octane fuel), discontinued use of propeller spinners, standardized waist gun blisters.
684
PBY-5A October 1941–January 1945
Hydraulically actuated, retractable tricycle landing gear, with main gear design based on one from the 1920s designed by Leroy Grumman
Leroy Grumman
Leroy Randle "Roy" Grumman was an American aeronautical engineer, test pilot, and industrialist. In 1929, he co-founded Grumman Aeronautical Engineering Co. later to become Grumman Aerospace Corporation, now part of Northrop Grumman.-Early life:Born in Huntington, New York, Grumman's forebears had...

, for amphibious operation. Introduced tail gun position, replaced bow single gun position with bow "eyeball" turret equipped with twin .30 machine guns (some later units), improved armor, self-sealing fuel tanks.
802
PBY-6A January 1945–May 1945
Incorporated changes from PBN-1, including a taller vertical tail, increased wing strength for greater carrying capacity, new electrical system, standardized "eyeball" turret, and a radome over cockpit for radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

.
175

* An estimated 4,051 Catalinas, Cansos, and GSTs of all versions were produced between June 1937 and May 1945 for the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army Air Forces, the U.S. Coast Guard, Allied nations, and civilian customers.

PBN Nomad

The Naval Aircraft Factory
Naval Aircraft Factory
The Naval Aircraft Factory was established by the United States Navy in 1918 at Philadelphia in order to assist in solving the problem of aircraft supply which faced the Navy Department upon the entry of the U.S. into World War I...

 made significant modifications to the PBY design, many of which would have significantly interrupted deliveries had they been incorporated on the Consolidated production lines. The new aircraft, officially known as the PBN-1 Nomad, had several differences from the basic PBY. The most obvious upgrades were to the bow, which was sharpened and extended by two feet, and to the tail, which was enlarged and featured a new shape. Other improvements included larger fuel tanks, increasing range by 50%, and stronger wings permitting a 2,000 pound (908 kg) higher gross takeoff weight. An auxiliary power unit was installed, along with a modernized electrical system, and the weapons were upgraded with continuous-feed mechanisms.

A total of 138 of the 156 PBN-1s that were produced served with the Soviet Navy. The remaining 18 of them were assigned to training units at NAS Whidbey Island and the Naval Air Facility in Newport, Rhode Island
Newport, Rhode Island
Newport is a city on Aquidneck Island in Newport County, Rhode Island, United States, about south of Providence. Known as a New England summer resort and for the famous Newport Mansions, it is the home of Salve Regina University and Naval Station Newport which houses the United States Naval War...

. Later, improvements found in the PBN-1 – notably, the larger tail – were incorporated into the amphibious PBY-6A.

Operational history

Roles in World War II

The final PBY construction figure is estimated at around 4,000 aircraft, and these were deployed in practically all of the operational theatres of World War II. The PBY served with distinction and played a prominent and invaluable role in the war against the Japanese. This was especially true during the first year of the war in the Pacific, because the PBY and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress were the only two available aircraft with the range necessary. As a result, they were used in almost every possible military role until a new generation of aircraft became available.

A Catalina of No. 205 Squadron RAF
No. 205 Squadron RAF
No. 205 Squadron was a Royal Air Force unit formed on 1 April 1918. Prior to this it had existed as No. 5 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service. In 1929, it became the first RAF squadron to be permanently based in Singapore, taking as its motto Pertama di Malaya . No...

 was also involved in a dogfight
Dogfight
A dogfight, or dog fight, is a form of aerial combat between fighter aircraft; in particular, combat of maneuver at short range, where each side is aware of the other's presence. Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of the airplane...

 with a Mitsubishi G3M
Mitsubishi G3M
The Mitsubishi G3M was a Japanese bomber used during World War II.-Design and development:...

 Nell bomber of Mihoro Air Group near the Anambas Islands on 25 December 1941, in which the Catalina was shot down.

Anti-submarine warfare

PBYs were the most extensively used ASW aircraft in both the Atlantic
Second Battle of the Atlantic
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, running from 1939 to the defeat of Germany in 1945. At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany's subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its...

 and Pacific Theater
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

s of the Second World War, and were also used in the Indian Ocean, flying from the Seychelles
Seychelles
Seychelles , officially the Republic of Seychelles , is an island country spanning an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean, some east of mainland Africa, northeast of the island of Madagascar....

 and from Ceylon. Their duties included escorting convoys to Murmansk
Murmansk
Murmansk is a city and the administrative center of Murmansk Oblast, Russia. It serves as a seaport and is located in the extreme northwest part of Russia, on the Kola Bay, from the Barents Sea on the northern shore of the Kola Peninsula, not far from Russia's borders with Norway and Finland...

. By 1943, U-boat
U-boat
U-boat is the anglicized version of the German word U-Boot , itself an abbreviation of Unterseeboot , and refers to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in World War I and World War II...

s were well-armed with anti-aircraft guns and two Victoria Cross
Victoria Cross
The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories....

es were won by Catalina pilots pressing home their attacks on U-boats in the face of heavy fire: John Cruickshank
John Cruickshank
John Alexander Cruickshank, VC is a Scottish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces....

 of the RAF, in 1944, against the U-347 and in the same year Flight Lt. David Hornell
David Ernest Hornell
David Ernest Hornell, VC was a Canadian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.-Details:...

 of the RCAF
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

 (posthumously) against the U-1225. Catalinas destroyed 40 U-boats in all, but they suffered losses of their own.
One of the Brazilian-operated Catalinas attacked and sank the U-199 in Brazilian territorial waters on 31 July 1943. Later, the aircraft was baptized as “Arará”, in honor of a merchant ship that carried that name and was previously attacked and sunk by another U-boat, the U-507.

Maritime patrol

In their role as patrol aircraft, Catalinas participated in some of the most notable engagements of World War II. The aircraft's parasol wing and large waist blisters allowed for a great deal of visibility and combined with its long range and endurance, made it well suited for the task.

A Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command
RAF Coastal Command was a formation within the Royal Air Force . Founded in 1936, it was the RAF's premier maritime arm, after the Royal Navy's secondment of the Fleet Air Arm in 1937. Naval aviation was neglected in the inter-war period, 1919–1939, and as a consequence the service did not receive...

 Catalina located the German battleship Bismarck
German battleship Bismarck
Bismarck was the first of two s built for the German Kriegsmarine during World War II. Named after Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, the primary force behind the German unification in 1871, the ship was laid down at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg in July 1936 and launched nearly three years later...

 on 26 May 1941 while she tried to evade Royal Navy forces.

A flight of Catalinas spotted the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of Midway
Battle of Midway
The Battle of Midway is widely regarded as the most important naval battle of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Between 4 and 7 June 1942, approximately one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea and six months after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States Navy decisively defeated...

.

A RCAF Canso flown by Squadron Leader L.J. Birchall
Leonard Birchall
Air Commodore Leonard Joseph Birchall, CM, OBE, DFC, O.Ont, CD , "The Saviour of Ceylon", was a Royal Canadian Air Force officer who warned of a Japanese attack on the island of Ceylon during the Second World War....

 foiled Japanese plans to destroy the Royal Navy's Indian Ocean fleet on 4 April 1942 when it detected the Japanese carrier fleet approaching Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Night attack and naval interdiction

Several squadrons of PBY-5As and -6As in the Pacific theater were specially modified to operate as night convoy raiders. Outfitted with state-of-the-art magnetic anomaly detection gear
Magnetic anomaly detector
A magnetic anomaly detector is an instrument used to detect minute variations in the Earth's magnetic field. The term refers specifically to magnetometers used by military forces to detect submarines ; the military MAD gear is a descendent of geomagnetic survey instruments used to search for...

 and painted flat black, these "Black Cats" attacked Japanese supply convoys at night. Catalinas were surprisingly successful in this highly unorthodox role. Between August 1943 and January 1944, Black Cat squadrons sank 112,700 tons of merchant shipping, damaged 47,000 tons, and damaged 10 Japanese warships.

The Royal Australian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
The Royal Australian Air Force is the air force branch of the Australian Defence Force. The RAAF was formed in March 1921. It continues the traditions of the Australian Flying Corps , which was formed on 22 October 1912. The RAAF has taken part in many of the 20th century's major conflicts...

 (RAAF) also operated Catalinas as night raiders, with four squadrons Nos. 11
No. 11 Squadron RAAF
No. 11 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol squadron based at RAAF Base Edinburgh. It was formed in 1939 and has seen active service in World War II, East Timor, the War on Terrorism and the 2003 Gulf War...

, 20
No. 20 Squadron RAAF
No. 20 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol squadron of World War II. It was formed in 1941 and disbanded in 1946.-History:...

, 42
No. 42 Squadron RAAF
No. 42 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force mine laying and maritime patrol squadron of World War II. It was formed in June 1944 and conducted patrol and mine-laying operations over the Netherlands East Indies from August 1944 until the war ended a year later, as well as operations in the...

, and 43
No. 43 Squadron RAAF
No. 43 Squadron was a Royal Australian Air Force maritime patrol and mine laying squadron of World War II.-Squadron history:No. 43 Squadron was formed at Bowen in Queensland on 1 May 1943. Equipped with Catalina aircraft the Squadron flew its first operational patrols from Karumba on 8...

 mounting mine-laying operations from 23 April 1943 until July 1945 in the southwest Pacific deep into Japanese-held waters, that bottled up ports and shipping routes and kept ships in the deeper waters to become targets for US submarines; they tied up the major strategic ports such as Balikpapan
Balikpapan
Balikpapan is a seaport city on the eastern coast of the island of Borneo, Indonesia, in the East Kalimantan province, a resource-rich region well known for its timber, mining, and petroleum export products. Two harbors, Semayang and Kariangau , and the Sepinggan International Airport are the main...

 that shipped 80% of Japanese oil supplies. In late 1944, their precision mining missions sometimes exceeded 20 hours in duration and were carried out from as low as 200 feet in the hours of darkness. Operations included the bottling up the Japanese fleet in Manila Bay planned to assist General MacArthur's landing at Mindoro in the Philippines. Australian Catalinas also operated out of Jinamoc in Leyte Gulf, and mined ports on the Chinese coast from Hong Kong as far north as Wenchow. They were the only non-American bomber squadrons operating north of Morotai in 1945. The RAAF Catalinas regularly mounted nuisance night bombing raids on Japanese bases, earning the informal title "The First and the Furthest". Targets of these raids included the major base at Rabaul
Rabaul
Rabaul is a township in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The town was the provincial capital and most important settlement in the province until it was destroyed in 1994 by falling ash of a volcanic eruption. During the eruption, ash was sent thousands of metres into the air and the...

. RAAF aircrews, like their US Navy counterparts, employed 'terror bombs', ranging from mere machine gunned scrap metal and rocks to empty beer bottles with razor blades inserted into the necks, to produce high pitched screams as they fell, keeping Japanese soldiers awake and scrambling for cover.

Search and rescue

PBYs were employed by every branch of the US military as rescue aircraft. A PBY piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Adrian Marks (USN) rescued 56 sailors from the USS Indianapolis
USS Indianapolis (CA-35)
USS Indianapolis was a of the United States Navy. She holds a place in history due to the circumstances of her sinking, which led to the greatest single loss of life at sea in the history of the U.S. Navy...

 after the ship was sunk during World War II. PBYs continued to function in this capacity for decades after the end of the war.

Early commercial use

PBYs were also used for commercial air travel. The longest commercial flights (in terms of time aloft) ever made in aviation history were the Qantas
Qantas
Qantas Airways Limited is the flag carrier of Australia. The name was originally "QANTAS", an initialism for "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services". Nicknamed "The Flying Kangaroo", the airline is based in Sydney, with its main hub at Sydney Airport...

 flights flown weekly from 29 June 1943 through July 1945 over the Indian Ocean. Qantas offered non-stop service between Perth
Perth, Western Australia
Perth is the capital and largest city of the Australian state of Western Australia and the fourth most populous city in Australia. The Perth metropolitan area has an estimated population of almost 1,700,000....

 and Colombo
Colombo
Colombo is the largest city of Sri Lanka. It is located on the west coast of the island and adjacent to Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte, the capital of Sri Lanka. Colombo is often referred to as the capital of the country, since Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte is a satellite city of Colombo...

, a distance of 3,592 nm (5,652 km). As the PBY typically cruised at 110 knots, this took from 28–32 hours and was called the "flight of the double sunrise", since the passengers saw two sunrises during their non-stop journey. The flight was made with radio silence because of the possibility of Japanese attack and had a maximum payload of 1000 lbs or three passengers plus 65 kg of armed forces and diplomatic mail.

Post-World War II employment

An Australian PBY made the first trans-Pacific flight across the South Pacific between Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 and Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

 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 ones 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 PBY 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
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

 had PBYs (designated OA-10s) in service as scouting aircraft from 1946 through 1947.

The Brazilian Air Force
Brazilian Air Force
The Brazilian Air Force is the air branch of the Brazilian Armed Forces and one of the three national uniformed services. The FAB was formed when the Army and Navy air branch were merged into a single military force initially called "National Air Forces"...

 flew Catalinas in naval air patrol missions against German submarines starting in 1943. The flying boats also carried out air mail deliveries. In 1948, a transport squadron was formed and equipped with PBY-5As converted to the role of amphibious transports. The 1st Air Transport Squadron (ETA-1) was based in the port city of Belem and flew Catalinas and C-47s in well-maintained condition until 1982. Catalinas were convenient for supplying military detachments scattered among the Amazon waterways. They reached places that were otherwise accessible only by long-range transport helicopters. The ETA-1 insignia was a winged turtle with the motto "Though slowly, I always get there". Today, the last Brazilian Catalina (a former RCAF one) is displayed at the Airspace Museum (MUSAL) in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro , commonly referred to simply as Rio, is the capital city of the State of Rio de Janeiro, the second largest city of Brazil, and the third largest metropolitan area and agglomeration in South America, boasting approximately 6.3 million people within the city proper, making it the 6th...

.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Jacques-Yves Cousteau
Jacques-Yves Cousteau was a French naval officer, explorer, ecologist, filmmaker, innovator, scientist, photographer, author and researcher who studied the sea and all forms of life in water...

 used a PBY-6A (N101CS) to support his diving expeditions. His second son, Philippe
Philippe Cousteau
Philippe Cousteau was a documentary film maker specializing in environmental issues, with a background in oceanography. He was the second son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Simone Cousteau....

, was killed in an accident in this aircraft that occurred on the Tagus river near Lisbon. The Catalina nosed over during a high speed taxi run undertaken to check the hull for leakage following a water landing. The aircraft turned upside down, causing the fuselage to break behind the cockpit. The wing separated from the fuselage and the left engine broke off, penetrating the captain's side of the cockpit.

Paul Mantz converted an unknown number of surplus PBYs to flying yachts at his Orange County California hangar in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Chilean navy captain Roberto Parragué in his PBY Catalina "Manu-Tara" undertook the first flight between Easter Island
Easter Island
Easter Island is a Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian triangle. A special territory of Chile that was annexed in 1888, Easter Island is famous for its 887 extant monumental statues, called moai, created by the early Rapanui people...

 and the continent (from Chile
Chile
Chile ,officially the Republic of Chile , is a country in South America occupying a long, narrow coastal strip between the Andes mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. It borders Peru to the north, Bolivia to the northeast, Argentina to the east, and the Drake Passage in the far...

) and the first flight to Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

; making him a national hero of France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 as well as of Chile. The flight was not authorized.

Of the few dozen remaining airworthy Catalinas, the majority are in use as aerial firefighting
Aerial firefighting
Aerial firefighting is the use of aircraft and other aerial resources to combat wildfires. The types of aircraft used include fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. Smokejumpers and rappellers are also classified as aerial firefighters, delivered to the fire by parachute from a variety of fixed-wing...

 aircraft.
China Airlines
China Airlines
China Airlines is both the flag carrier and the largest airline of Republic of China . Although not directly state-owned, the airline is owned by China Airlines Group, which is owned by the China Aviation Development Foundation...

, the official airline of the Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 (Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

) was founded with two PBY amphibious flying boats.

Platforms are folded out and deployed from Catalinas for use in open ocean fishing and Mahi Mahi tracking in the Pacific Ocean.

Catalina affair

The Catalina Affair is the name given to a Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 incident in which a Swedish Air Force PBY Catalina was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 in June 1952 while investigating the disappearance of a Swedish Douglas DC-3
Douglas DC-3
The Douglas DC-3 is an American fixed-wing propeller-driven aircraft whose speed and range revolutionized air transport in the 1930s and 1940s. Its lasting impact on the airline industry and World War II makes it one of the most significant transport aircraft ever made...

 (later found to have been shot down by a Soviet fighter while on a SIGINT
SIGINT
Signals intelligence is intelligence-gathering by interception of signals, whether between people , whether involving electronic signals not directly used in communication , or combinations of the two...

 mission; found 2003 and raised 2004–2005).

Variants

XP3Y-1
Prototype Model 28 flying boat later re-designated XPBY-1, one built (USN Bureau No. 9459). Later fitted with a 48 feet (14.6 m) ring to sweep magnetic sea mines
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

. A 550-HP Ranger engine drove a generator to produce a magnetic field.

XPBY-1
Prototype version of the Model 28 for the United States Navy, a re-engined XP3Y-1 with two 900hp R-1830-64 engines, one built.

PBY-1 (Model 28-1)
Initial production variant with two 900hp R-1830-64 engines, 60 built.

PBY-2 (Model 28-2)
Equipment changes and improved performance, 50 built.

PBY-3 (Model 28-3)
Powered by two 1,000 hp R-1830-66 engines, 66 built.

PBY-4 (Model 28-4)
Powered by two 1,050 hp R-1830-72 engines, 33 built (including one initial as a XPBY-4 which later became the XPBY-5A).

(Model 28-5)
Either two 1200hp R-1830-82 or -92 engines and provision for extra fuel tanks (with partial self-sealing protection). 683 built (plus one built at New Orleans), some aircraft to the RAF as the Catalina IVA and one to the United States Coast Guard. The PBY-5 was also built in the Soviet Union as the GST.

XPBY-5A
One PBY-4 converted into an amphibian and first flown in November 1939.

PBY-5A (Model 28-5A)
Amphibious version of the PBY-5 with two 1,200 hp R-1830-92 engines, first batch (of 124) had one 0.3in bow gun, the remainder had two bow guns; 803 built including diversions to the United States Army Air Corps, the RAF (as the Catalina IIIA) and one to the United States Coast Guard.

PBY-6A
Amphibious version with two 1,200 hp R-1830-92 engines and a taller fin and rudder. Radar scanner fitted above cockpit and two 0.5 in nose guns; 175 built including 21 transferred to the Soviet Navy.

PBY-6AG
One PBY-6A used by the United States Coast Guard as a staff transport.

PB2B-2
Boeing built version of the PBY-5 but having a taller fin of the PBN-1, 67 built most supplied to the RAF as the Catalina VI.

PB2B-1
Boeing-Canada built PBY's for the RAF and RCAF from 1939.

PBN
Naval Aircraft Factory built version of the PBY-5 with major modification including a 2ft bow extension, modified hull lines with a modified step, re-designed wingtip floats and tail surfaces and a revised electrical system. A total of 155 were built for delivery to the RAF as the Catalina V although 138 were loaned to the Soviet Navy

PBV
Canadian Vickers built version of the PBY-5A, 380 built including 150 to the Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1920, when the air force was created as the Canadian Air Force . In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force and granted royal sanction by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968...

 as the Canso-A and the rest to the USAAF as the OA-10A.

OA-10
United States Army Air Forces designation for PBY-5A, 105 built; 58 aircraft survivors re-designated A-10 in 1948.

OA-10A
USAAF designation of Canadian Vickers-built version of the PBV-1, 230 built. Survivors re-designated A-10A in 1948. Three additional aircraft from Navy in 1949 as A-10As.

OA-10B
USAAF designation of PBY-6A, 75 built. Re-designated A-10B in 1948.

Catalina I
Direct purchase aircraft for the Royal Air Force, same as the PBY-5 with six 0.303 in guns (one in bow, four in waist blisters and one aft of the hull step) and powered by two 1,200 hp R-1830-S1C3-G engines, 109 built.

Catalina IA
Operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canso, 14 built.

Catalina IB
Lend-lease PBY-5Bs for the RAF, 225 aircraft built.

Catalina II
Equipment changes, six built.

Catalina IIA
Vickers-Canada built Catalina II for the RAF, 50 built.

Catalina IIIA
Former US Navy PBY-5As used by the RAF on the North Atlantic Ferry Service, 12 aircraft.

Catalina IVA
Lend-lease PBY-5s for the RAF, 93 aircraft.

Catalina IVB
Lend-lease PB2B-1s for the RAF, some to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Catalina VI
Lend-lease PB2B-2s for the RAF, some to the RAAF.

GST
Soviet built version of the PBY-5 ("Gydro Samoliot Transportnyi").

Specifications (PBY-5A)


See also

External links

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