United States' FlagUnited States' Army Air Corps aircraft marking
Toggle Menu

United States' Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat
Nickname: Cat


Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat
Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook
Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat
Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat
Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat
Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat:
United States' Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat


Consolidated and Douglas were asked by the United States Navy to design a replacement for the Martin P3M and Consolidated P2Y.4 Douglas didn't finish their design in time so the Consolidated was selected.4

The Catalina used a tricycle landing gear.1 The front wheel retracted into the hull and the other two moved up into wheel wells that were exposed.1

Sometimes to assist in takeoffs, rockets were strapped on.1

The hull of the Catalina was located in the center of the plane with floats near the tips of the wings, which when retracted would form the tips of the wings.4


On some long missions the crew would have to man the Catalina for 20 hours.1

Beam Position

The first models of the PBY Catalina had sliding hatches for the beam gunners.2 From the PBY-4 on these were replaced by transparent blisters.2


The XP3Y-1 prototype first flew on March 28, 1935.1,2,3,4 An order was placed for 60 on June 29, 1935.4

The prototype Catalina flew from Coco Solo / Panama Canal4 to San Francisco, 3,300 miles4 / 3,500 miles / 5,633 km, non-stop in October 1935.1,4


The Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia produced the PBN-1 Nomad.2

  • Consolidated XP3Y-1: 14
  • Consolidated PBY-1: 603
  • Consolidated PBY-2: 503
  • Consolidated PBY-3: 663
  • Consolidated PBY-4: 323
  • Consolidated PBY-5A:
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated Aircraft Corporation4
  • Consolidated PBY-6A: 2354
    • Production: ? - April 19454
  • PBN-1 Nomad:
    • Manufacturer: Naval Aircraft Factory4
  • Total: 3,2902,3,4
    • Manufacturer: Consolidated2,3,4, Boeing Canada2,3,4, Canadian Vickers2,3,4, and the Naval Aircraft Factory2,3,4
  • GST: 1503 , 1,0001
    • License built by the Soviet Union1,3,4


  • Consolidated XP3Y-1: Prototype.2,4 Had two Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp (825 HP).3
  • Consolidated PBY-1: First production model.2 Entered service in October 1936.3,4
  • Consolidated PBY-2: Went into service in 1937-1938.2
  • Consolidated PBY-3: Went into service in 1937-1938.2
  • Consolidated PBY-4: Went into service in 1938.2 Had Pratt & Whitney R-1830-72 (1,050 HP) radial engines.2 Blisters were added over the beam gunner positions.2
  • Consolidated PBY-5: Had new fin.2 Outfitted with the Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 radial engines.2 Appeared in 1940.4
  • Consolidated PBY-5A: Amphibian version.4,5 First flown in November 1939.3 Were first delivered in December 1941.2
  • Consolidated PBY-6A: Had a taller fin and rudder.2,3 In a fairing above the cockpit a search radar was installed.2
  • PB2B-1: Built by Boeing Canada.3
  • PB2B-2: Built by Boeing Canada.3
  • PBN-1 Nomad: Built by Naval Aircraft Factory.3,4 Had improved hull and tip floats.2,4
  • OA-10: United States Air Force's air-sea rescue craft.1,3
  • OB-10B: United States Air Force's version of the PBY-6A.2 75 delivered.2
  • Canso: Canadian constructed PBY.2
  • GST: Soviet produced version.2,4 Had two Mikulin4 M-87 radial engines (900 HP).3 First appeared in 1940.4


Catalinas were used by Argentina3,4, Australia3, Brazil3,4, Britain3, Canada3, Chile3,4, Denmark3,4, Ecuador3,4, Holland3,4, Indonesia3,4, Israel3,4, Mexico3,4, Netherlands3, New Zealand3, Norway3,4, Peru3,4, South Africa3, Soviet Union3,4, and United States3,4.

During the 1930s civilians used the PBYs for exploration in New Guinea and the Indian Ocean.1

First Use

The PBY-1s were first assigned to the United States Navy VP-11F in October 1936.2

By the end of 1941 there were 16 United States Navy squadrons outfitted with the PBY-5s and five with previous versions of the PBY.2

112 PBY-6As were delivered to the United States Navy.2

Foreign Orders

Once World War II started Australia, Britain, Canada, and Holland ordered Catalinas.4


A Catalina spotted the Bismarck after it had eluded the Royal Navy.1,3

Black Cats Squadron

During night actions against Japanese ships, the Black Cats not only dropped bombs and depth charges, but also empty beer bottles that made frightening whistles on their descent.1

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom ordered 685 PBY-4s and PBY-5s.2 Many of these were delivered to Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.2

Soviet Union

In 1938 the Soviet Union purchased three PBY-3s along with a license to build them.4 They were operational until the 1950s.4

The Soviet Union received 48 PBY-6As.2

After World War II

The Catalina remained operational until the 1960s.4


  Consolidated PBY Catalina
Type Maritime patrol flying boat3
Crew 7 - 93
Engine (Type)  
Propeller blades  
Wing area  
Cruising speed  
Service ceiling  
Armament 5: 0.3" MG3
OR 5: 0.5" MG3
Bombs, depth charges, or mines 4,000 lb3
1,814 kg3
  Consolidated PBY-2 Catalina
Type Patrol bomber2
Crew 7 - 92
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-642
Cylinders Radial2
HP 900 each2
Propeller blades  
Span 104'2
31.69 m2
Length 65' 10"2
20.07 m2
Height 18' 6"2
5.64 m2
Wing area 1,400 ft2 2
130 m2 2
Empty 14,668 lb2
6,653 kg2
Loaded 28,400 lb2
12,882 kg2
Speed @ 8,000' /
2,438 m
178 mph2
286 kph2
Cruising speed  
Climb 830'/minute2
253 m/minute2
Service ceiling 20,800'2
6,340 m2
Range 2,110 miles2
3,396 km2
Armament 2: 12.7 mm MG2
2: 7.62 mm MG2
Bombs 1,000 lb2
454 kg2
  Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina
Type Long range patrol5
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp3
2: Pratt & Whitney Wasp5
Cylinders Radial 143
HP 1,200 each3,5
Propeller blades 3 each3
Span 104'3,5
31.7 m3
Length 63' 10"3, 65' 1"5
19.46 m3
Height 18' 6"5, 18' 10"3
5.74 m3
Wing area  
Loaded 27,000 lb5
Speed 190 mph5, 196 mph3
315 kph3
Cruising speed 117 mph3
188 kph3
Climb 690'/minute3
210 m/minute3
Service ceiling 18,100'3
5,517 m3
Range 3,100 miles3, 4,000 miles5
4,989 km3
Beam position 2: Browning MG5
  Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina
Type Long-range maritime patrol bomber1, Reconnaissance4
Crew 7 - 91,4
Bomber / observer, pilots (2), radio operator, navigator, gunner / observer (2)1
Engine (Type) 2: Pratt & Whitney R1830-92 Twin Wasp piston1,3,4
Cylinders Radial1, Radial 143,4
Cooling Air4
HP 1,200 each1,3,4
Propeller blades 3 each1,3
Span 104'1,4
31.7 m1
Length 63' 10"1,4
19.47 m1
Height 20' 2"1,4
6.15 m1
Wing area 1,400 ft2 1
130.06 m2 1
Empty 21,000 lb1
9,485 kg1
Loaded 35,420 lb1,4
16,066 kg1
Speed @ 6,500' /
2,135 m
175 mph1
288 kph1
Speed @ 7,000' 175 mph4
Cruising speed  
Service ceiling 18,100'1,4
4,480 m1
Range 2,350 miles4, 3,045 miles1
4,900 km1
Armament 5: MG4
Bow 2: 7.62 mm MG1
Hull step, firing aft 7.62 mm MG1
Beam position 2: 12.7 mm MG1
Bombs or depth charges 4,000 lb1
1,814 kg1
Bombs 4,000 lb4


  1. Aircraft of WWII, General Editor: Jim Winchester, 2004
  2. Fighting Aircraft of World War II, Editor: Karen Leverington, 1995
  3. Aircraft of WWII, Stewart Wilson, 1998
  4. World War II Airplanes Volume 2, Enzo Angelucci, Paolo Matricardi, 1976
  5. Aeronautics Aircraft Spotters' Handbook, Ensign L. C. Guthman, 1943
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site