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Consolidated PBY Catalina Long-Range Maritime Patrol Flying Boat (1936)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 12/5/2014

The PBY Catalina was the most crucial flying boat for the Allies in World War Two.

Maritime aircraft play an understated role, especially in that of war time. Fly boats came to pass, first in peace-time development as early as 1901, and ultimately in the First World War. Their development, with experience garnered in peace time between the two world wars, led to some impressive designs - most notably at the hands of British aviation engineers. With the arrival of the Second World War, the role of the flying boat extended to that of patrol, reconnaissance, search and rescue and anti-shipping with armaments as varied as bombs, torpedoes and mines.

The PBY Catalina series ("Catalina" would later become the generic term for all PBY derivatives) was an exceptional American-produced aircraft in the Second World War. Produced by the Consolidated Aircraft Company in the United States (and under license and through Lend-Lease in other countries) the PBY Catalina series would etch its identity into the page of aviation history.

The PBY Catalina was a twin engine aircraft capable of land and / or sea landings. The system was crewed from 7 to 9 members depending on the model type and could run the gamut of missions as utilized primarily by the United States Navy. The system first flew in 1935 as a prototype in which Consolidated beat out the Douglas aircraft company in trials for the USN. Production models would begin as the PBY-1 in 1936.

War time would see an increase in various powered-powerplants, defensive and offensive armaments and expanding of roles for the system. Tricycle landing gear tests on late PBY-4 systems would yield the truly amphibious PBY-5 and PBY-5A series models. Production of the PBY series would be undertaken by Consolidated in the United States, Canadian Vickers and Boeing of Canada in Canada, the Naval Aircraft Factory in Britain and state factories in the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease Act. In all, 2,398 PBY Catalina-based systems would be produced (the Soviet Union produced the system under the designation of GST, whilst Britain went with their tell-tale "Mark" Mk I series).

In all, flying boats would go on to serve a most pivotal role, particularly in a war that was not only fought in the skies and on land, but on the water and under it as well. Flying boats would see service up until the 1960's where more land-based maritime patrol aircraft would take its place.

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Specifications for the
Consolidated PBY Catalina
Long-Range Maritime Patrol Flying Boat

Focus Model: Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Consolidated; Boeing - USA / GST - Soviet Union / Royal Aircraft - UK / Canadian Vickers - Canada
Initial Year of Service: 1936
Production: 4,051

Crew: 9

Length: 63.81 ft (19.45 m)
Width: 104.00 ft (31.70 m)
Height: 20.18ft (6.15 m)
Weight (Empty): 20,911 lb (9,485 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 35,422 lb (16,067 kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 14-cylinder Twin Wasp air-cooled radial engines generating 1,200hp.

Maximum Speed: 179 mph (288kmh; 156 kts)
Maximum Range: 2,545 miles (4,095km)
Service Ceiling: 14,698 ft (4,480 m; 2.8 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 526 feet-per-minute (160 m/min)

Hardpoints: 2
Armament Suite:
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in bow turret
2 x 12.7mm machine guns in fuselage blisters (one each side).
1 x 7.62mm machine gun in ventral tunnel section.

Bombload of up to 4,000lbs that includes 2 x torpedoes, bombs, depth charges or anti-ship mines.

Model 28 - Base Prototype Model Designation

XP3Y-1 - Prototype Model Designation

PBY-1 - Initial Production Model featuring improved and more powerful R-1830-64 900hp engines; 60 produced.

PBY-2 - Modified United States Navy Model of which 50 were produced.

PBY-3 - Fitted with R-1830-66 1,000hp engines of which 66 were produced.

PBY-4 - Integrated the recognizable fuselage "blister" gun positions; name "Catalina" is utilized for the series; fitted with R-1830-72 1,050hp radial engines of which 33 produced.

PBY-5 - R-1830-82 or R-1830-92 radial engines capable of 1,200hp; export version for UK, Dutch East Indies, Australia and Canada; Tricycle landing gear testing implemented and integrated to final PBY-5 production models making the system completely amphibious; general improvements throughout.

PBY-5A - Full Amphibious Variant of which 761 were produced.

PBY-5B - Improved Amphibious Model

Mk I - RAF Coastal Command Designation of the PBY-5 model series.

Canso - Canadian designation of the PBY-5 model series as produced by Canadian Vickers and Boeing of Canada.

PBN-1 "Nomad" - Naval Aircraft Factory production model with taller fin and rudder systems; model supplied to the USSR; aerodynamic and hydrodynamic improvements to airframe.

PBY-6A - "Amphibians" with search radar installed.

OA-10B - United States Air Force Designation of the PBY-6A Catalina amphibians.

GST - Model Designation of PBY series as produced by the USSR; unknown production numbers.

Canada; United kingdom; Soviet Union (GST); United States