Photo of Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA Old Buckenham 2016

Consolidated PBY Catalina

Aircraft Histories

Catalina crews flew long, monotonous, maritime and anti-submarine patrols throughout World War II. With a range of around 2500 miles (4000 km) the Consolidated PBY Catalina took them far from land and out over the oceans of the world.

These patrols had a major influence on key events of the war. One PBY Catalina found the Japanese fleet of Admiral Yamamoto before the battle of Midway and an RAF Catalina located the German battleship Bismark. This sighting led to the battleship’s eventual sinking.

Action, when it came could be destructive and two Victoria crosses were won (one posthumously) by Catalina captains for pressing on with attacks against heavily armed U-boats. By the end of the war forty U-Boats had been sunk by Catalinas.

The Consolidated PBY (Patrol Bomber the Y designating manufactured by Consolidated) was christened Catalina by the RAF, a name later adopted by the US services, and Canso by the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force).

The RAF favoured the flying boat version without wheels whereas the US Navy operated more of the amphibious version capable of landing on both water and land.

Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA Old Buckenham 2016

Developed from a line of flying boats manufactured by the Consolidated Aircraft Corporation over 4000 PBY Catalinas were produced.

In 1944 the Soviets also acquired, under Lend-Lease, 137 PNB-1 Nomads, an updated model of the flying boat version of the PBY, which had a longer range and heavier armament than the previous models. Most of these were used in the short Soviet-Japanese War of 1945.

By 1944 Catalinas were to stay aloft for over thirty hours and completed some of the longest journeys in terms of time airborne in aviation history. Qantas Catalinas completing weekly flights between Perth and Ceylon a distance of 3592 miles (6652 km) which took the relatively slow flying boats 28 to 32 hours.

Countless airmen and sailors were rescued by the flying boat and the Catalina continued its search and rescue operations after the war. Although the RAF disposed of all its Catalinas at the end of the war and the US had retired its PBYs by the mid-fifties.

The aircraft continued in service with smaller air forces and many were converted for civilian uses as diverse as ocean fishing platforms, private flying yachts and firebombers.

Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA

The photos on this page are all of Consolidated Catalina (PBV-1A) PBY-5 43-3915 G-PBYA. Read more about this Catalina’s history at G-PBYA: A Short History of Plane Sailing’s Catalina

More aircraft histories


The Soviet PBY Catalinas of WWII

The Consolidated Catalina And Variants

G-PBYA: A Short History of Plane Sailing’s Catalina

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