Aviation of World War II

Home Russian

PBY "Catalina"

Flying Boat


Consolidated PBY Catalina

The Consolidated Catalina amphibious flying boat was one of the slowest combat aircraft of the Second World War. Having taken off for the first time in 1935, the plane was already outdated by the beginning of the war, but in 1938 the plane was recognized by the Soviet Union as better than its counterparts created by its own designers, and was built under license during the war. Moreover, "Catalina" by the end of the war was produced in many new modifications and sold better than new designs. The Catalin was built more than any other flying boat or seaplane in history.

The PBY (the aircraft was known by the US military under this name) began life in 1933, when the US Navy issued demands for a new long-range patrol flying boat. At the time, the primary aircraft in this category was the Consolidated P2Y, designed in Buffalo by Isaac M. "Mac" Laddon, a talented naval aircraft designer and director of Consolidated Aircraft. The wing of the new machine differed from the P2Y wing by the presence of a rectangular middle part and trapezoidal consoles and was an all-metal structure with a working skin (ailerons - with canvas skin). A characteristic feature was the installation of wing floats on electrically deployable racks; after harvesting, they were wingtips.

The all-metal fuselage differed from other large flying boats by placing all crew and equipment on one deck; the top of the fuselage had a semicircular cross-section. In the bow there were a mooring compartment and a transparent sighting window with shutters to protect against sea water. In the bow of the production aircraft there was an observation turret with a circular view, above it was a machine gun. The two pilots sat side by side in a wide cockpit with large windows. Behind the wing, on the left and right, there were machine gunner seats, each with a sliding hatch. Unlike P2Y, the tail unit was cantilever, with the stabilizer raised on the keel.

Instead of Cyclone engines, Catalina was fitted with two new twin-row Pratt-Whitney Twin Wasp engines with Hamilton Standard variable pitch propellers. Engines in new nacelles with cooling flaps were installed in the center section.

The British Air Ministry has acquired one copy of the Model 28-5 (PBY-4). During trials at Felixstowe (under the designation P9630), the aircraft showed such good performance that it was adopted as the standard patrol flying boat for Coastal Command. Under the name "Catalina" Mk.I - a name later adopted in the US Navy - 200 of these machines, identical to the last modification for the US Navy PBY-5 with R-1830-92 engines of 1200 hp each, were ordered by the British December 20, 1939 They became the first British version of the aircraft. Until now, no flying boat (and in fact no American naval aircraft) has ever been ordered in such quantities, and the massive British orders required massive increases in production. The British launched licensed production at Canadian Vickers in Carterville (Montreal) and Boeing of Canada in Vancouver. The San Diego plant also doubled its production capacity; it was merged with the neighboring enterprise, which built the B-24.

PBY-5A . On November 22, 1939, Consolidated flew a prototype XPBY-5A with retractable nosewheel landing gear, converted from the standard PBY-4. This amphibian turned out to be the most successful modification, despite some deterioration in flight characteristics. The last 33 amphibians PBY-5 were urgently converted into PBY-5A, and in November 1940 another 134 amphibians were ordered. On December 7, 1941 (the day of the Pearl Harbor raid), the US Navy had three PBY-3 squadrons, two PBY-4 squadrons, and no less than 16 squadrons flew the new PBY-5s. On that day, even before sunrise, the crew of one of the Catalinas discovered the periscope of a Japanese submarine at Pearl Harbor, marked it with a smoke bomb, and guided destroyer Ward, which sank it. These were the first American shots in the Pacific, an hour before the air strike began. By this time, a further 586 PBY-5 amphibians had been ordered, and export orders increased by 18 for Australia, 50 for Canada, 30 for France and 36 for the Dutch East Indies. In 1942, another 627 PBY-5A aircraft were produced; 56 of them, designated OA-10, entered service with the US Air Force as a search and rescue aircraft. The first batch of Lend-Lease deliveries for the British Air Force included 225 PBY5B (Catalina Mk.IA) flying boats and 97 Catalina Mk.IVA aircraft with the British ASV Mk.2 radar to detect surface targets. The RAF Catalins typically carried a Vickers K (VGO) machine gun in the bow and twin 7.7mm Browning machine guns in mid-fuselage blisters.

By the end of 1941, the Cartwerville plant reached its design capacity. The Canadian Vickers division supplied 230 seaplanes, ordered as PBV-1A but actually transferred to the US Air Force under the designation OA-10A, and 149 Canso I amphibians for the Canadian Air Force. Boeing, which joined the production later, built 240 PB2B-1, mainly modifications of the Catalina Mk.IVB, for the British Air Force, Australia, New Zealand, Canada.

PBN-1 Nomad. Since February 1943, the Nzevel Aircraft Factory (NAF) in Philadelphia began building the PBN-1 Nomad, which was distinguished primarily by the shape of the bottom of the boat. The nose section was lengthened and sharpened. At the same time, the blinds, which previously covered the bombardier's aiming window, had to be replaced with hinged flaps. The first step became oblique, the second moved more than a meter back, followed by a third. PBN-1, received a new wing, corresponding to a take-off weight of 17,237 kg, - with an increased capacity of the fuel tanks and modified wing tips and float struts. All this significantly improved the seaworthiness of the boat and its takeoff and landing characteristics. The new plumage solved the problems with directional stability. It was these machines that the Americans eventually proposed to the USSR. As a result, almost all flying boats of this modification ended up in our country.

The armament increased to three or more 12.7 mm machine guns (only the ventral firing point retained the rifle caliber machine gun), the nose turret became rounded, and a continuous ammunition supply system was introduced.

In total, the NAF plant produced 138 PBN-1 aircraft, 119 of which (one disappeared during the ferry) entered the USSR.

Specification PBY-5A
Crew 5-7
Wing span, m 31.70
Lenght, m 19.47
Height, m 6.15
Wing area, m² 130.06
2 x Pratt Whitney R-1830-82, hp 1200
Weight, kg:
Empty weight 9485
Maximum takeoff weight 16,066
Maximum speed, km/h 288
Cruising speed, km/h 188
Service ceiling, m 4480
Service range, km 4096
2x12.7 mm + 3x7.62 mm machine guns, bombs, kg 1814

Combat use . The RAF Catalins began operating in the spring of 1941 in Squadrons 209 and 210. One of the first to be on alert was the 209 Squadron from Castle Archdale (crewed by Pilot Briggs and a US Navy lieutenant instructor) that flew far over the Atlantic on 26 May 1941. Suddenly they saw a giant warship - it was the battleship "Bismarck", which had already been evading British warships for 31.5 hours. Despite heavy anti-aircraft fire, the Catalina radioed the coordinates of the battleship's position and followed it until another Catalina from Squadron 240 replaced it and guided the British fleet to the location of the German battleship.

In addition, almost all of the Coastal Command's 650 Catalin sorties were aimed at anti-submarine patrols. Many flights, lasting from 15 to 20 hours, ended in Gryaznaya Bay (Murmansk) or Arkhangelsk and served to protect convoys going to the Soviet Union. The only drawback of the Catalina was that the low speed of the aircraft often allowed the detected submarine to go deep. Until 1943, submarines repelled attacks by anti-aircraft fire. Two Catalin commanders earned the Victoria Cross (Britain's highest honor), one posthumously, for attacking submarines in almost unbelievable conditions.

It was not easier in the Pacific Ocean, where from December 7, 1941, "Catalina" became the main US patrol aircraft. In the battles for the Aleutian Islands, many Catalins took off overloaded at night, in snow storms, with ice on the windshield. The PBY was the first aircraft in the United States (not counting the outdated Douglas B-18) to be equipped with a radar. These aircraft operated as torpedo bombers, transport aircraft and glider towing aircraft. Perhaps the most famous of the Catalin amphibians was the PBY-5A Black Cat, which had a matte black finish. Operating in the western part of the Pacific Ocean since December 1942, they detected Japanese ships of all classes by radar at night and picked up the surviving crew members of the dead Allied ships and aircraft fleeing in boats and boats. In addition to radar, torpedoes, conventional and depth charges, and fragmentation grenades, Black Cats often carried baskets of empty beer bottles, whose eerie whistles when dropped frightened Japanese gunners and made them waste time looking for unexploded bombs.

Photo Description
Drawing PBY-5A

Drawing PBY-5A

The PBN-1 of Northern fleet Air Force

The PBN-1 of Northern fleet Air Force before antisubmarine patroling.


  • "Americans" in Russia / V.R. Kotelnikov /
  • American Warplanes of World War II / ed. David Donald /
  • Encyclopedia of Military Equipment / Aerospace Publising /