Consolidated PBY Catalina

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Consolidated PBY Catalina
Catalina A24-358.jpg
Catalina A24-358
RAAF PBY Catalina A24-377.jpg
RAAF Catalina A24-377
Type Seaplane
Role Maritime patrol bomber, search and rescue
Designer Consolidated Aircraft team
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Produced 2,661 in US; 620 Canada; 24 Soviet Union
Number built 4,051, with 3,031 during war time
Primary users US Navy, US Army Air Force; TAF; RCAF; RAAF
In service 1936
Out of service 1979 (Brazilian Air Force)


One of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II, it was used by the US Navy, US Army Air Force; TAF; RCAF; RAAF. Australian versions were the Catalina IVB and the Catalina VI. Of interest 138 of the first model, the PBN-1 were provided to the Soviet Navy.

Primary purpose was in anti-submarine warfare, both in the Atlantic and the Pacific theatres. Some also patrolled the Indian Ocean from Seychelles and Ceylon. However, the also served as convoy escorts, and they provided maritime patrols. A patrolling Catalina found the Japanese fleet approaching Midway, and saved the Royal Navy's Indian Ocean fleet, by early observation of the approaching Japanese carrier fleet. Along the way they sank 40 U_Boats.

The RAAF operated Catalinas as night raiders, with Nos 11, 20, 42, and 43 Squadrons laying mines deep inside Japanese lines to disrupt their shipping. During World War II, Qantas flew commercial passengers from Suva to Sydney and from Colombo to Perth. Post war many of the aircraft were sold to smaller nations such as Chile and Brazil, and to commercial operators.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Ten - pilot, co-pilot, bow turret gunner, flight engineer, radio operator, navigator, radio operator, to waist gunners, ventral gunner.
  • Length: 19.46 m
  • Wingspan: 31.70 m
  • Height: 6.15 m
  • Empty weight: 9, 485 kg
  • Max takeoff weight: 16,066 kg
  • Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial engines 1,200 hp each
  • Maximum speed: 314 km/h
  • Range: 4,055 km
  • Service ceiling: 4,815 m
  • Armament
  • Guns: 3 x 7.62 mm machine guns; 2 x 12.7mm machine guns
  • Bombs:1,814 kg of bombs or depth charges

Following the Surrender of Japan in September 1945, RAAF Catalinas were used to deliver medical supplies to liberated POW camps before flying survivors back to Australia. On 30 August 1945 a flight of 9 RAAF Catalinas landed in Singapore bearing medical supplies and documents in preparation for the Japanese surrender, becoming the first allied forces to enter the island since 1942. In total, Australia operated 168 Catalinas during the war. The aircraft continued to be used in immediate post-war period, being used to assist with the repatriation of former prisoners of war from Singapore to Australia. For further aircraft details see

Crew members

No. 20 Squadron RAAF

Ground Crew

No. 111 Air Sea Rescue Flight RAAF

No. 42 Squadron RAAF Melville Bay and Darwin, NT

Individual Aircraft

RAAF Catalina A24-359 Joined No. 43 Squadron on 21 May 1945, and was sold to Airmotive on 18 May 1953.

Manila to Darwin via Moratai 14 Oct 1945

RAAF Catalina A24-377 Joined No. 20 Squadron on 18 Aug 1945, and following the return of POWs was transferred to the 3 OTU on 25 Jan 1946. The plane was sold to Airmotive on 18 May 1953

Manila to Darwin to Perth

Darwin to Perth October 1945