Consolidated PBY Catalina, New Herpa Model Announcements and Hobbymaster Photo Updates.

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina in flight

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, was an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and the last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. In 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.

The designation “PBY” was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing “Patrol Bomber” and Y being the code assigned to Consolidated Aircraft as its manufacturer. Catalinas built by other manufacturers for the US Navy were designated according to different manufacturer codes, thus Canadian Vickers-built examples were designated PBV, Boeing Canada examples PB2B (there already being a Boeing PBB) and Naval Aircraft Factory examples were designated PBN. In accordance with contemporary British naming practice of naming seaplanes after coastal port towns, Royal Canadian Air Force examples were named Canso, for the town of that name in Nova Scotia. The Royal Air Force used the name Catalina and the US Navy adopted this name in 1942. The United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force used the designation OA-10. US Navy Catalinas used in the Pacific against the Japanese for night operations were painted black overall, and as a result were sometimes referred to locally as “Black Cats”.

PBY Catalina landing

The designation “PBY” was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing “Patrol Bomber” and Y being the code assigned to Consolidated Aircraft as its manufacturer. Catalinas built by other manufacturers for the US Navy were designated according to different manufacturer codes, thus Canadian Vickers-built examples were designated PBV, Boeing Canada examples PB2B (there already being a Boeing PBB) and Naval Aircraft Factory examples were designated PBN. In accordance with contemporary British naming practice of naming seaplanes after coastal port towns, Royal Canadian Air Force examples were named Canso, for the town of that name in Nova Scotia. The Royal Air Force used the name Catalina and the US Navy adopted this name in 1942. The United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force used the designation OA-10. US Navy Catalinas used in the Pacific against the Japanese for night operations were painted black overall, and as a result were sometimes referred to locally as “Black Cats”.

As American dominance in the Pacific Ocean began to face competition from Japan in the 1930s, the U.S. Navy contracted Consolidated, Martin and Douglas in October 1933 to build competing prototypes 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 and Martin P3M models for this role in 1931, but both aircraft were underpowered and hampered by inadequate range and limited payloads.
Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their new designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-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 (Model 28) PBY Catalina

Consolidated’s XP3Y-1 design (company Model 28) had a parasol wing with external bracing struts, mounted on a pylon over the fuselage. Wingtip stabilizing floats were retractable in flight to form streamlined wingtips and had been licensed from the Saunders-Roe company. The two-step hull design was similar to that of the P2Y, but the Model 28 had a cantilever cruciform tail unit instead of a strut-braced twin tail. Cleaner aerodynamics gave the Model 28 better performance than earlier designs. Construction is all-metal, stressed-skin, of aluminum sheet, except the ailerons and wing trailing edge, which are fabric covered.

The prototype was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-54 Twin Wasp radial engines mounted on the wing’s leading edges. Armament comprised four .30 in (7.6 mm) Browning AN/M2 machine guns and up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) of bombs.

The XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on 28th March 1935, after which it was transferred to the U.S. Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 was a significant performance improvement over previous 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 (670 kW) R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces which resolved a problem with the tail becoming submerged on takeoff, which had made lift-off impossible under some conditions. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on 19 May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 mi (2,992 nmi; 5,541 km) was achieved.

PBY riding at sea anchor.

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 25th July 1936. Over the next three years, the design was gradually developed further and successive models introduced.
The aircraft eventually bore the name Catalina after Catalina Island; the name was coined in November 1941, as Great Britain ordered their first 30 aircraft.

The Naval Aircraft Factory 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 lb (908 kg) increase in gross takeoff weight. An auxiliary power unit was installed, along with an improved electrical system, and the weapons were upgraded with continuous-feed mechanisms.

138 of the 156 PBN-1s produced served with the Soviet Navy. The remaining 18 were assigned to training units at NAS Whidbey Island and the Naval Air Facility in Newport, Rhode Island. Later, improvements found in the PBN such as the larger tail were incorporated into the amphibious PBY-6A.

PBY waist gunner mounting port side gun blister.

Around 3,300 aircraft were built, and these operated in nearly all operational theatres of World War II. The Catalina served with distinction and played a prominent and invaluable role 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 aircraft available with the range to be effective in the Pacific.

Catalinas were the most extensively used anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft in both the Atlantic and Pacific Theaters of World War II, and were also used in the Indian Ocean, flying from the Seychelles and from Ceylon. Their duties included escorting convoys to Murmansk.

By 1943, U-boats were well-armed with anti-aircraft guns and two Victoria Crosses were won by Catalina pilots pressing home their attacks on U-boats in the face of heavy fire: Flying Officer John Cruickshank of the RAF, in 1944, for sinking U-347 (although the submarine is now known to have been U-361 and in the same year Flight Lieutenant David Hornell of the Royal Canadian Air Force (posthumously) against U-1225. Catalinas destroyed 40 U-boats, but not without losses of their own. A Brazilian Catalina attacked and sank U-199 in Brazilian waters on 31st July 1943. Later, the aircraft was baptized as “Arará”, in memory of the merchant ship of that name which was sunk by another U-boat.

Flying Officer John Alexander Cruickshank VC

The announcement and accompanying citation for the decoration was published in a supplement to the London Gazette on 1st September 1944.

Air Office, 1st September, 1944.

” The KING has been graciously pleased to confer the VICTORIA CROSS on the undermentioned officer in recognition of most conspicuous bravery: —

Flying Officer John Alexander CRUICKSHANK (126700), Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. No. 210 Squadron.

This officer was the captain and pilot of a Catalina flying boat which was recently engaged on an anti-submarine patrol over northern waters. When a U-boat was sighted on the surface, Flying Officer Cruickshank at once turned to the attack. In the face of fierce anti-aircraft fire he manoeuvred into position and ran in to release his depth charges. Unfortunately they failed to drop.

Flying Officer Cruickshank knew that the failure of this attack had deprived him of the advantage of surprise and that his aircraft offered a good target to the enemy’s determined and now heartened gunners.

Without hesitation, he climbed and turned to come in again. The Catalina was met by intense and accurate fire and was repeatedly hit. The navigator/bomb aimer, was killed. The second pilot and two other members of the crew were injured. Flying Officer Cruickshank was struck in seventy-two places, receiving two serious wounds in the lungs and ten – penetrating wounds in the lower limbs. His aircraft was badly damaged and filled with the fumes of exploding shells. But he did not falter. He pressed home his attack, and released the depth charges himself, straddling the submarine perfectly. The U-boat was sunk.

He then collapsed and the second pilot took over the controls. He recovered shortly afterwards and, though bleeding profusely, insisted on resuming command and retaining it until he was satisfied that the damaged aircraft was under control, that a course had been set for base and that all the necessary signals had been sent. Only then would he consent to receive medical aid and have his wounds attended to. He refused morphia in case it might prevent him from carrying on.
During the next five and a half hours of the return flight he several times lapsed into unconsciousness owing to loss of blood. When he came to his first thought on each occasion was for the safety of his aircraft and crew. The damaged aircraft eventually reached base but it was clear that an immediate landing would be a hazardous task for the wounded and less experienced second pilot. Although able to breathe only with the greatest difficulty, Flying Officer Cruickshank insisted on being carried forward and propped up in the second pilot’s seat. For a full hour, in spite of his agony and ever-increasing weakness, he gave orders as necessary, refusing to allow the aircraft to be brought down until the conditions of light and sea made this possible without undue risk.

With his assistance the aircraft was safely landed on the water. He then directed the taxying and beaching of the aircraft so that it could easily be salvaged. When the medical officer went on board, Flying Officer Cruickshank collapsed and he had to be given a blood transfusion before he could be removed to hospital.

By pressing home the second attack in his gravely wounded condition and continuing his exertions on the return journey with his strength failing all the time, he seriously prejudiced his chance of survival even if the aircraft safely reached its base. Throughout, he set an example of determination, fortitude and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Service.”

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

Catalina IVB 205 Sqn RAF

A RAF Coastal Command Catalina, piloted by Ensign Leonard B. Smith of the U.S. Navy and flying out of Castle Archdale Flying boat base, Lower Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, located on 26th May 1941, some 690 nmi (1,280 km; 790 mi) northwest of Brest, the German battleship Bismarck, which was attempting to evade Royal Navy forces as she sought to join other Kriegsmarine forces in Brest. This sighting eventually led to the destruction of the German battleship.

On 7th December 1941, before the Japanese amphibious landings on Kota Bharu, Malaya, their invasion force was approached by a Catalina flying boat of No. 205 Squadron RAF. The aircraft was shot down by five Nakajima Ki-27 fighters before it could radio its report to air headquarters in Singapore. Flying Officer Patrick Bedell, commanding the Catalina, and his seven crew members became the first Allied casualties in the war with Japan.

A flight of Catalinas spotted the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island, beginning the Battle of Midway.
A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Canso flown by Squadron Leader L.J. Birchall foiled Japanese plans to destroy the Royal Navy’s Indian Ocean fleet on 4th April 1942 when it detected the Japanese carrier fleet approaching Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Squadron Leader Leonard Birchall aboard a Consolidated Catalina before being shot down and captured near Ceylon by the Japanese.

During the Battle of Midway four USN PBYs of Patrol Squadrons 24 and 51 made an attack on the occupation force of the Japanese fleet on the night of June 3rd–4th, 1942.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also operated Catalinas as night raiders, with four squadrons Nos. 11, 20, 42, and 43 laying mines from 23rd April 1943 until July 1945 in the southwest Pacific deep in Japanese-held waters, bottling up ports and shipping routes and forcing ships into deeper waters to become targets for U.S. submarines; they tied up the major strategic ports such as Balikpapan which shipped 80% of Japanese oil supplies. In late 1944, their mining missions sometimes exceeded 20 hours in duration and were carried out from as low as 200 ft (61 m) in the dark. Operations included trapping the Japanese fleet in Manila Bay in assistance of General Douglas MacArthur’s landing at Mindoro in the Philippines. Australian Catalinas also operated out of Jinamoc in the Leyte Gulf, and mined ports on the Chinese coast from Hong Kong to as far north as Wenchow. Both USN and RAAF Catalinas regularly mounted nuisance night bombing raids on Japanese bases, with the RAAF claiming the slogan “The First and the Furthest”. Targets of these raids included a major base at Rabaul. RAAF aircrews, like their U.S. Navy counterparts, employed “terror bombs”, ranging from 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.

Catalinas were employed by every branch of the U.S. military as rescue aircraft. A PBY piloted by LCDR Adrian Marks (USN) rescued 56 sailors in high seas from the heavy cruiser Indianapolis after the ship was sunk during World War II. When there was no more room inside, the crew tied sailors to the wings. The aircraft could not fly in this state; instead it acted as a lifeboat, protecting the sailors from exposure and the risk of shark attack, until rescue ships arrived. Catalinas continued to function in the search-and-rescue role for decades after the end of the war.

Qantas VH-EBU at Rose Bay in February 1953 after retirement.

Catalinas were also used for commercial air travel. For example, Qantas Empire Airways flew commercial passengers from Suva to Sydney, a journey of 2,060 miles (3,320 km), which in 1949 took two days. The longest commercial flights (in terms of time aloft) ever made in aviation history were the Qantas flights flown weekly from 29th June 1943 through July 1945 over the Indian Ocean, dubbed the Double Sunrise. Qantas offered non-stop service between Perth and Colombo, a distance of 3,592 nmi (4,134 mi; 6,652 km). As the Catalina typically cruised at 110 kn (130 mph; 200 km/h), this took from 28 to 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 in radio silence because of the possibility of Japanese attack and had a maximum payload of 1,000 lb (450 kg) or three passengers plus 143 lb (65 kg) of military and diplomatic mail.

An Australian PBY [named “Frigate Bird II” – an ex RAAF aircraft, registered VH-ASA] made the first trans-Pacific flight across the South Pacific between Australia and Chile in 1951 by (Sir) Gordon Taylor, making numerous stops at islands along the way for refueling, meals, and overnight sleep of its crew, flown from Sydney to Quintero in Chile after making initial landfall at Valparaiso via Tahiti and Easter Island.

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 versions 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 3rd January 1957. The Catalina 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 used Catalinas (designated OA-10s) in service as scout aircraft from 1946 through 1947.

The Brazilian Air Force 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 until 1982. Catalinas were convenient for supplying military detachments scattered along the Amazon. They reached places that were otherwise accessible only by 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.

Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s PBY-6A (N101CS)

Jacques-Yves Cousteau used a PBY-6A (N101CS) to support his diving expeditions. His second son, Philippe, 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 Catalinas to flying yachts at his Orange County California hangar in the late 1940s and early 1950s.

Steward-Davis converted several Catalinas to their Super Catalina standard (later known as Super Cat), which replaced the usual 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines with Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 engines of 1,700 hp (1,300 kW). A larger, squared-off rudder was installed to compensate for the increased yaw which the more powerful engines could generate. The Super Catalina also had extra cabin windows and other alterations.

Chilean Air Force (FACH) Captain Roberto Parragué, in his PBY Catalina FACH No. 405 called “Manu-Tara”, which means Lucky Bird in the Rapanui language, undertook the first flight between Easter Island and the continent of South America (from Chile), as well as the first flight to Tahiti, making him a national hero of France as well as of Chile. The flight was authorized by the Chilean President in 1951, but a second flight he made in 1957 was not authorized, and he was dismissed from the Chilean Air Force.

The Catalina Affair is the name given to a Cold War incident in which a Swedish Air Force Catalina was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Baltic Sea in June 1952 while investigating the disappearance of a Swedish Douglas DC-3 (later found to have been shot down by a Soviet fighter while on a signals intelligence mission; it was found in 2003 and raised 2004–2005).

A PBY-6A Catalina drops a load of water from its bomb-bay doors

Of the few dozen remaining airworthy Catalinas, the majority are in use as aerial firefighting aircraft. China Airlines, the official airline of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was founded with two Catalina amphibians.


 

AA36111 Corgi Aviation Archive Consolidated Catalina IVA JV928 ‘Y’ F/Off Alexander Cruickshank VC 210 Squadron July 1944 – 100 Years of the RAF now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers.

If you only have one Catalina in your collection…this is the one to have ! Scheduled to arrive in July of this year, this is likely to sell out well before it lands in the U.K., based on the interest and pre-orders already received. Don’t miss out.

Don’t forget NO DEPOSIT necessary with Flying Tigers and if you order with your debit or credit card your payment is NOT taken until your model is available to dispatch.


 

New Model Announcements from Modelyletadel / Herpa now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers.

Modelyletadel and Herpa have also announced the following JAS-39C Gripen and  SU-25 Frogfoot models which are now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Simply click on the images below and it will take you through to the model page of your choice or CLICK HERE to see them all.


 

New Model Announcements from Herpa in 1/72nd scale and 1/200th scale now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers.

Herpa have also announced the following models which are now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Simply click on the images below and it will take you through to the model page of your choice or CLICK HERE to see all the 1/72nd scale models and CLICK HERE to see all the 1/200th scale military models.


 

InFlight 200 newly announced models available to pre-order from Flying Tigers.

InFlight have announced the following  1/200th scale models which are now available to pre-order from Flying Tigers. Simply click on the images below and it will take you through to the model page of your choice or CLICK HERE to see them all


 

Hobbymaster Photo Gallery updates.

Check out the latest updated Photos which have now been added to the Flying Tigers website. Please click on the photo of your choice to go straight to the model page.

HA4559 Hobbymaster 1/72nd scale McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle “75th Anniversary of Oregon ANG”  RRP £94.00  Flying Tigers only £71.99

 

That is all for this week.

Thank you for taking time out to read this week’s Newsletter.

Richard.

Flying Tigers.