This Gallery is dedicated to the unique, versatile and extremely pretty Consolidated PBY5A Catalina. The aircraft was designed as long ago as 1933 with production by the USA Consolidated Aircraft Corporation beginning in September 1936 to run until April 1945. With 3,430 aircraft manufactured and exports to many countries including Canada and England, the Catalina numbered more than all other flying boats combined making it the most successful ever!
It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft during World War II and the last military PBY was not retired from service until the 1980s! During the war the PBY5A had a gun turret in front of the cockpit, bomb sight windows in the nose, an aft gun position through a ventral hatch towards the tail, while the side blisters sported further machine guns. Four under wing racks carried ordnance drawn from bombs, torpedoes or depth charges. Its success continued after the war where it has found many applications as a reliable workhorse, including search and rescue, cargo transport and continuing use as a fire fighting 'water bomber'.
It may perhaps be of interest to explain the meaning of 'PBY5A'. PB stands for 'Patrol Bomber', Y5 refers to its consolidation and model designation while the 'A' represents 'amphibian', denoting the variation fitted with undercarriage - as opposed to being a pure flying boat. The wing tips of all versions are actually aerodynamic stabilising floats that lower electrically for use on water. The final version of the Catalina was designated the PBY6A featuring modifications which included a new hull with a longer and sharper bow, increased wing strength for greater load capacity, a taller tail and usually a neat radar pod above the cockpit.
The result of a licence agreement brokered by the British, the PBY was also manufactured in Canada during World War II by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Canadian Vickers and Canadair Ltd. and was named the 'Canso' numbering almost 800 aircraft. Additionally, early interest from the U.S.S.R. led to over 1,000 aircraft using Soviet engines, armaments and equipment, being a variant of the Catalina made under licence at a Russian production facility under the initial guidance of Consolidated engineers. There remain approximately twenty 'Cats' worldwide in airworthy condition.
Catalina 433915/G-PBYA shown here is privately owned and operated. The subject of ongoing modifications, the nose has been plated over and modified where the turret used to be, it is also fitted with new, elegant and costly one piece side blisters and sports modern avionics equipment.
I try to find less usual angles and subjects for my photography where possible and many of these photographs feature ground crew operations. I photographed this aircraft during the Southend-on-Sea Air Show over the bank holiday weekend of 30th and 31st May 2010 and sincerely thank the crew of the Catalina and staff at Southend Airport for their hospitality. Finally, I ask that you please respect my copyright.
All of the pictures in this Gallery are available for purchase! Genuine, chemically printed photographs in quality mounts, individually signed by myself as photographer, give the opportunity to own an exclusive, original work for your private enjoyment for very modest cost.
I hope you enjoy your visit and exploring my Galleries.
Kindest Wishes, Clive