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  • Writer's pictureroy blewett

Consolidated 28 Catalina/Canso

Consolidated Canso A PBY-5A Catalina ZK-PBY Omaka
ZK-PBY, the New Zealand Catalina Preservations Society's Canso A makes a high-speed pass at the Classic Fighters air show at Omaka, in 2019.

In 1933 the United States Navy invited Consolidated and Douglas to submit designs for a patrol floatplane with an operational range of 3,000 miles to replace its P2Y and P3M biplanes. Consolidated’s design was selected and, with the task modified to accommodate a bomber role, an initial batch of 60 was ordered on 29 June 1935. The name Catalina was first used by Consolidated in marketing the aircraft to commercial users and adopted by the British when they ordered the type in 1939 for use by Coastal Command, and later by the United States Navy. The Catalina saw extensive service during World War II - six production lines were needed to satisfy demand - and it remains popular on the warbird circuit.

For further information, the Catalina Society's website is highly recommended.

First flight: 15 Mar 35 (Bu9459)

Production: 3,208, comprising: 1 at Buffalo, NY; 2,086 at San Diego, CA; 235 at New Orleans, LA; 155 by the Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia, PA; 339 by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, QC; 30 by Canadian Vickers at Saint-Hubert, QC; and 362 by Boeing at Vancouver-Sea Island, BC. Seen under variants for licence-production in Russia.

First delivery: 5 Oct 36 to the US Navy (Bu9459)

Last delivery: Apr 45

Variants: 28/XP3Y-1 - prototype patrol floatplane powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney R-1830-54 radials (1 built, at Buffalo; subsequently modified as XPBY-1 and re-engined with R-1830-64s);

28-1/PBY-1 - initial production model optimised for the patrol bomber role and powered by R-1830-64s (60 built, at San Diego);

28-2/PBY-2 - PBY-1 with detail changes (50 built, at San Diego, including three powered by Wright Cyclone R-1820-G3 radials supplied to Russia);

28-3/PBY-3 - PBY-2 with additional fuel capacity and powered by R-1830-66s (66 built, at San Diego);

28-4/PBY-4 - PBY-3 powered by R-1830-72s (33 built, at San Diego);

28-5/PBY-5 - PBY-4 with provision of extra fuel tanks and powered by R-1830-82 or -92s (1,083 built at San Diego, including 400 exported or ‘lease-leant’ as various Catalina marques to the UK, and 1 at New Orleans);

28-5A/PBY-5A - amphibious version of PBY-5 equipped with bow guns and powered by R-1830-92s (744 at San Diego and 59 at New Orleans; a number were transferred to the US Army Air Force under the designation OA-10);

PBN-1 Nomad - developed floatplane version by Naval Aircraft Factory with redesigned hull featuring extended bow, heighted fin and rudder, and increased fuel capacity (155 built at Philadelphia, of which 138 were supplied to Russia under lend-lease);

PBY-6A - development of PBY-5A, adopting some of the improvements introduced in the PBN-1, including the higher fin, and equipped with nose guns and radar scanner above the cockpit (175 built at New Orleans, of which 75 supplied to the US Army Air Force as OA-10B);

PBV-1A - designation applied to Canadian Vickers-built PBY-5As, although the entire production run was supplied to US Army Air Force as OA-10A (230 built);

PB2B-1 - designation applied to Boeing-built PBY-5s (165 built for lease-lend to UK and New Zealand as Catalina IVB);

PB2B-2 - designation applied to Boeing-built PBN-1s (67 built for lease-lend to UK and Australia as Catalina VI)

Canso A - designation applied to PBY-5A for Canada (244 built, comprising 50 at San Diego, 30 at Saint-Hubert, 109 at Cartierville and 55 at Sea Island).

GST (Gydro Samolyot Transportnyi – hydroplane transport) – licence-built version based on the 28-2, powered by Shevstov ASh-62 radials developed from a licence-built version of the R-1820 (a reported 27 completed at Taganrog before the city fell to the Germans in Oct 41; this total is not included in the production statistics above).

Conversions: SuperCat - PBYs re-engined with Pratt & Whitney R-2600 Cyclone radials; some feature squared off tail fins to aid stability;

Super Canso 1000 - PBY-5A modified by Timmins Aviation to carry 22 passengers, also powered by R-2600s and featuring a squared-off tail;

Bird Innovator - single Canso A modified by Dr. Forrest Bird for single pilot operation and by the addition of two Lycoming GSO-480-B2D6 horizontally-opposed pistons, strengthened wing and increased fin and rudder area; since ‘de-converted’.

Consolidated Catalina survivors
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