Consolidated PB2Y Coronado - United States, 1940
Detailing the development and operational history of the Consolidated PB2Y Coronado Maritime Reconnaissance / Bomber Flying Boat Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 3/29/2016; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
With the PBY Catalina firmly entrenched but aging, the US Navy looked to the newer Coronado floatplane design to help carry the torch through World War 2.
By the middle of the 1930's America was no longer blind to the real possibility that the war would sooner or later be waged along its shores. As such, the United States Navy took action in the requirement for a new generation of flying boat aircraft capable of long range reconnaissance. The Consolidated PB2Y Coronado series reflected just that - a planned replacement for the 1930's era yet successful Consolidated PBY Catalina design already in place.
The PB2Y Coronado first appeared in the XPB2Y-1 prototype form in 1937 - beating out a Sikorsky design - and suffered almost immediately with poor water-based handling and equally dangerous in-air instability issues related largely to the single fin tail design. As such, the tail section was redesigned to incorporate twin-rounded vertical fins which helped iron out the handling issues. The US Navy took this redesigned model as the PB2Y-2 and continued testing as needed. Results necessitated the addition of better armor protection and self sealing fuel tanks which further produced the PB2Y-3. This model would go on to become the definitive production model and also join service in limited numbers with the British RAF.
Design-wise, the Coronado was characterized by its rather stout look, in some ways looking like a shortened Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber with a ship's hull meshed into the design. The flight deck was perched high and forward of the fuselage and adorned on either side by twin Pratt & Whitney type radial engines (these would vary in model types from variant to variant). The rather large looking ASV radome was clearly visible just aft of the cockpit. Wings were high mounted and forward on the tall fuselage and featured retractable wing-tip floats which helped in building better aerodynamic tendencies (this function was similar to the PBY Catalina). The twin fin tail section was also mounted high on the design at rear.
Armament of the Coronado was a well-balanced battery of offensive and defensive implements. Twin 12.7mm (.50 caliber) M2 machine guns were housed in a bow turret, a dorsal turret amidships and a rear turret just aft and between the twin tail fins. An additional 12.7mm machine gun was positioned to fire from hatches in the beam position on either side. To compliment this armament, the Coronado could fulfill an offensive role by being fitted with up t0 1,000 pounds of bombs (held internally in the wing roots) or two Mark 13 type torpedoes held externally.
Despite being of sound design, the Coronado simply was not up to the task of dislodging the favored PBY Catalinas in long distance reconnoitering sorties. Additionally, the Coronado was not implemented greatly as a bomber or anti-ship element, being superseded in this role by the equally capable Consolidated PB4Y-1 series, and aircraft similar in scope but dedicated to land bases and thus not needing any specialist training for water operations.
In British service, the PB4Y Coronado was known as the Coronado Mk I, of which some 10 PB2Y-3 models were allotted the nation. Several subvariants appeared as the PB2Y-3R - a dedicated transport seating some 45 passengers or cargo - and the PB2Y-5R - a converted model for air ambulance duties with room for 25 litters. In all, over 200 Coronados were produced with most models serving in the Pacific Theater (sans the RAF models in the Atlantic).