Consolidated PBY Catalina

PBY Catalina
Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina in flight (cropped).jpg
A PBY-5A on patrol, 1942-43
RoleMaritime patrol bomber, search and rescue seaplane
ManufacturerConsolidated Aircraft
First flight28 March 1935
IntroductionOctober 1936, United States Navy
RetiredJanuary 1957 (United States Navy Reserve)
1979 (Brazilian Air Force)
Primary usersUnited States Navy
United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Produced1936–1945
Number built3,305 (2,661 U.S.-built,[1] 620 Canadian-built, 24 Soviet-built[2])
Unit cost
US$90,000 (as of 1935)
Adjusted for inflation: US$1606456
VariantsBird Innovator

The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and the last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. As of 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.

Naming

The designation "PBY" was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing "Patrol Bomber" and Y being the code assigned to Consolidated Aircraft as its manufacturer. Catalinas built by other manufacturers for the U.S. Navy were designated according to different manufacturer codes, thus Canadian Vickers-built examples were designated PBV, Boeing Canada examples PB2B (there already being a Boeing PBB) and Naval Aircraft Factory examples were designated PBN. In accordance with contemporary British naming practice of naming seaplanes after coastal port towns, Royal Canadian Air Force examples were named Canso, for the town of that name in Nova Scotia.[citation needed] The Royal Air Force used the name Catalina and the U.S. Navy adopted this name in 1942.[3] The United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force used the designation OA-10. U.S. Navy Catalinas used in the Pacific against the Japanese for night operations were painted black overall; as a result these aircraft were sometimes referred to locally as "Black Cats".

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