Monday, July 25, 2011

The PBY Catalina

Probably one of my favorite non-fighter aircraft of the war is the PBY Catalina. It was a versatile aircraft that could be used in a variety of roles during the war. It also had considerable range. In a game that I used to play quite a bit, they had the ability to be spotters for other aircraft. This made them very valuable but a good target.
The PBY came about because the Navy was starting to anticipate that it might need a long range aircraft to cover the Pacific. Consolidated started to work on the design in the early 30's and the first flight was in 1935.
The Catalina was first introduced to the Navy squadrons in 1936 and over the years saw a number of improvements. The last active military aircraft wasn't retired until the 1980's which I imagine is almost a record (The B-52 may break that).
The Catalinas were used in every major theater of the war. They were also used by the British, Canadians and Australians. They have also seen service with some other countries.
There are still some in use today even.
It may not be the prettiest bird but it got the job done.
During wartime, it was equipped with 3 0.30 caliber machine guns and 2 0.50 caliber machine guns. It could carry 4,000 pounds of bombs or depth charges.
A little over 4,000 of them were built of which a dozen or so are still being used. Many of these in aerial firefighting roles.
Sadly, the flying boat went out of style after the war.

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