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Consolidated PBY Catalina

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Here was aviation at its essence. The high wing, twin engine Catalina was not speedy, not flashy, not graceful, but it was more practical than anyone realised when the first ship took to the skies on 28 March 1935. With its braced parasol wing and seagoing hull, the PBY Catalina became famous and was built in larger numbers than any other flying boat in aviation history.

The PBY revolutionised long range patrol in the US Navy.The well loved 'Cat' ranged outward at great distance to stalk the enemy's fleet or to attack his submarines, and British Catalinas ferreted out the elusive German warship Bismarck. A PBY spotted the periscope of a Japanese submarines at Pearl Harbor. On all the world's oceans, Catalinas fought valiantly. Some were among the first American aircraft to carry radar. They were amphibians, flying from land or sea. Also produced in Canada and Russia, the Catalina often shed its warlike duties to become a Samaritan, bringing slavation to those in peril.

It was old when World War II began. It was slow and could be uncomfortable, but the Consolidated PBY Catalina was one of the classic designs, rarely has an aircraft proved so useful to so many people. A deadly adversary to an enemy submarines or warship, the PBY is better remembered as the angel of mercy which achieved thousands of rescues in all circumstances throughout the war.


Consolidated PBY Catalina

Consolidated PBY Catalina long-range flying patrol maritime bomber Consolidated PBY Catalina Consolidated PBY Catalina shipboard operations
Although slow and cumbersome, the PBY Catalina was immensely tough and had a great range, essential for long maritime patrols. The PBY Catalina had good take-off performance, but for launching at high weights or in tight spots it could use strap on rockets for extra boost. Catalinas often operated from seaplane tenders, being hoisted aboard by cranes for maintenance and restocking.

Consolidated PBY Catalina (Technical Specification)
Role Seven or nine seat long range maritime patrol bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated
Maximum Speed 288 kmh (175 mph)
Maximum Range 4,900 km (3,045 miles)
Ceiling 4,480 meters (18,100 feet)
Maximum Takeoff

9,485 kg (21,000 lbs)
16,066 kg (35,420 lbs)
Wing Area

31.7 meters (104 ft)
19.47 meters (63 ft 10in)
6.15 meters (20 ft 2 in)
130.06 square meters (1,400 sq ft)
Engines Two Pratt & Whitney R1830-92 Twin Wasp radial piston engines each providing 895-kW (1,200 hp)
Armament Two 7.62mm (0.30 cal) machine guns in bow
One 7.62mm machine gun firing aft from the hull step
Two 12.7 mm (0.50 cal) machine guns in beam position; up to 1,814 kg (4,000 lbs) of bombs or depth charges

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