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Category: Air support/WW2/Allied

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CatalinaFlying Boat
In 1933 Consolidated of Buffalo was in competition with Douglas of Santa Monica to supply the United States Navy with its first cantilever-monoplane flying boat. Though the Douglas aircraft was good, its rival, designed by Isaac M. Laddon, was to prove a classic. It would be manufactured in greater numbers than any flying boat before or since.

The original Catalina featured two 825 hp Twin Wasps mounted close together on a wide clean wing, on the tips of which were retractable stabilizing floats. The prototype XP3Y-1 achieved a speed of 184 mph - high for a flying boat in 1935. Production began at San Diego, California. The initial order - for 60 - was exceptionally large for the time, but within a decade more than 4,000 had been ordered.

In 1938 three were purchased by the Soviet Union, which urgently tooled up to build its own version, the GST. In 1939 the British RAF bought one PBY and soon placed large orders - it was the RAF which gave the aircraft its name 'Catalina'. This name was adopted in the United States in 1942.

In December 1939 came the PBY-5A (OA-10) with retractable landing gear, which was named the 'Canso' by the Canadian air force. Many hundreds of both the boat and the amphibian version were built by Canadian Vickers (as the PBV-1) and Boeing Canada (as the PB2B-1). Revised versions with heightened tail-fins were manufactured at New Orleans (PBY-6A) and by the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia (PBN-10).

The Catalina established a remarkable combat record during World War Two. In the Atlantic it performed vital service in the war against the U-boats, and an RAF Catalina famously located the Bismarck after the formidable German battleship had temporarily succeeded in escaping from British forces.

In the Pacific the Catalina gave outstanding service in the search and rescue role. It was a Catalina which first located the advancing Japanese forces during the decisive Battle of Midway. 'Black Cat' night-flying Catalinas made a valuable and prolonged contribution to the Allied effort in the Solomons campaigns during 1942-43, frequently making torpedo attacks on Japanese shipping. For many years after World War Two hundreds of Catalinas served with various nations, in civilian as well as in military roles.

  • Origin Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation
  • Type Flying boat
    • Function Maritime Patrol / Anti-submarine/ Torpedo Attack / Rescue
      Crew Usually seven
      Dimensions Span 104' - Length 63' 11"
      Weight Loaded - 34,000 lb (15,436 kg)
      Engines Two 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder two-row radials
  • Performance
    • Maximum speed - 196 mph (314 km/h)
      Climb to 5,000 feet - 4 mins 30 secs
      Service ceiling - 18,200 feet (6160 meters)
      Range (at cruising speed of 100mph) - 3,100 miles
  • Armament
    • Offensive Weapons
      Up to 2,000 lbs of bombs, torpedoes, or depth charges - in wing racks
      Typical Defensive armament (United States)
      One .50 or .30 Browning machine-gun in nose, one .50 in each waist blister, one in ventral 'tunnel'
      Typical Defensive armament (British)
      Six .303 Browning machine-guns - one in nose, twins in each waist blister, one in ventral 'tunnel'

wording by Combat Aircraft of the Pacific War


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