View Full Version : PBY's

Lu Zuckerman
7th Jun 2002, 03:14
I have noted in many posts the postees mention the PBY, The Catalina and /or the CANSO. There are many of you that can relate some very interesting stories about this wonderful aircraft.

How about contributing?

If you tell me your stories I’ll tell you mine.


Canuck Pilot
7th Jun 2002, 03:54
This really isn't a war story but one of a crashed PBY just off one of the runway's at Tofino, British Columbia. It's still accesible by trail but souveneir hunters and locals have taken a tole on it. Story I heard was that it took off from Tofino on a patrol mission(U-boats I'm assuming) but suffered an engine failure after t/o. The pilot ditched the torpedoes and then crashed into the bush where it lays today. Funny thing is you can still see the craters the torpedoes left when detonating on impact with the ground. I've got some pictures and I'll try and stick them on this topic. Cheers

Lu Zuckerman
7th Jun 2002, 15:27
We were returning to our base at NAS Corpus Christi after a short training hop. One of the duties of the flight engineer was to verify that the main and nose landing gear were down and locked. The main gear down lock was viewed through a small window in the side of the wheel wells. If the gear was not locked the flight engineer would use a special tool that was about 2 ½ feet long and this tool would be placed in a pivot pin and the tool was forced against the landing gear forcing the knuckle joint over center, causing the gear to lock. There was a similar tool used for verification of the nose gear being locked. This tool consisted of a pointed rod about 1” in diameter and about 2 ½ feet long. On the opposite end from the point was a ratchet. To verify the gear was down and locked, the rod was inserted in a hole at the top of the nose wheel well and it had to pass through three lugs. Two of the lugs were on the front bulkhead of the wheel well and the third was on the nose gear. If the rod passed through all three lugs then the gear was down and locked. If the lugs did not line up then the ratchet was used to jack the gear into the locked position and the rod check was made again to verify the correct position.

I made the check and when I pulled the rod back all I had was the ratchet end and the rod was gone. After landing I checked to see if the rod was still in place in the three lugs but it was nowhere to be found. In making our final approach we passed over several housing developments and our first concern was that the rod hit a house or worse a person. We reported the incident to the Navy (our host) and waited several days for someone to report damage to a structure or that the rod was found imbedded in the ground. No report came through so we breathed a sigh of collective relief. We also replaced the aluminum rivets on the tool with stainless steel rivets.


8th Jun 2002, 01:46
In cold weather, the brakes frequently froze solid after a climb to altitude from a water takeoff. As the lowly third crewman, it was my job to attempt to break them free by opening said small window and using a crowbar to turn the wheels. You kept this operation up until the brakes dried out or the ice had melted, whichever came first. On one trip from Fort Albany, where we'd done a water takeoff, to Timmins, in spite of my best efforts the right brake remained frozen all the way. After a four hour flight, we did a touch and go at Timmins, touching down on the left wheel, momentarily touching the right wheel on the runway to break it free, then going around to come back and land normally.
There were two methods to raise or lower the tip floats, electrically and the armstrong method via a crank in the tower compartment. There were two receptacles for the crank, one labelled normal, the other fast. The normal position required something like 180 turns, lock to lock, to raise or lower the floats, but the effort required to turn the crank was fairly low. The fast position took about half the number of turns, but the effort required was phenomenal. I got to try them both once when we broke a shearpin in a gearbox in the left wing. We had done a water takeoff on the Rupert River, and the left float jammed in the partially retracted position. Since it was a water landing at Moosonee, yours truly had the happy job of cranking the floats down. I still get lightheaded thinking about it. The subsequent takeoff also required the crank, but as we were headed for Timmins, I was spared any further exertions. :)

Capt. Crosswind
12th Jun 2002, 02:44
I've been reading up lately on Pearl Harbour.
I see that there were something like 30 Cats based there & I know the Cat had an incredible radius of action.
If they had been on patrol would they have picked up the Japanese fleet in time to provide an alert to the raid??

Lu Zuckerman
12th Jun 2002, 18:35
To: Capt. Crosswind

It’s pure conjecture on my part but I would have to say that with the range of the P Boats they would have been likely to spot the Japanese fleet but it was Sunday so no aircraft other than an incoming squadron of B-17s were in the air.

However other aspects must be considered assuming the fleet was spotted. Would the warning be heeded. Could the US fleet have been dispersed on short notice? With the fleet dispersed would there be sufficient assets to defend Pearl Harbor?


Capt. Crosswind
13th Jun 2002, 07:06
Thanks Lu,
I figured the Cat had enough range to cover the approach of the Japanese fleet after talking to an ex WWII Catalina navigator who told me that they could sqeeze 30 hours endurance
out of a sorty when necessary.
Quite an aircraft.

13th Jun 2002, 12:31
Hey, Lu...you ever see a book, 'Wings of the Dawning' by Arthur Banks? He was my brother-in-law's father, so he's sort of family.

It's an account of seaplane ops in the Indian Ocean in the war, and I can certainly recommend it. Covers Cats and Sunderlands.

Sadly, we lost Arthur to the big C a few weeks ago. A great fella!

Lu Zuckerman
14th Jun 2002, 23:56
The following two incidents occurred on the same flight.

We were going to perform a 120-hour check and had to move our aircraft into the Navy hangar. In order to get the nose wheel cranked sufficiently to move into the hangar we disconnected the nose wheel scissors. Among other things we changed the plugs, set the mag clearance, set the valve clearance and changed the oil on each engine. After completion of the check we pulled the aircraft out on the apron and got it ready for flight. Since I was flying on the check flight I requested one of the other mechanics to reinstall the bolt on the nose wheel scissors. I assumed that he in fact did this. That was my first mistake in trusting that he would do the requested task.

We started the engines and when all the temps were up and the oil pressure stabilized we started to taxi out. When we were going down the taxiway the aircraft started to shudder. We were flying with a short crew (one pilot, one flight engineer and one radioman I had to put out the ladder and get under the nose wheel doors. I found the bolt, the nut and the cotter pin where I had left them. I got a wrench and proceeded to install the bolt. At that time, the pilot wanted to do a mag check. At 2300 RPM the nose started to dip down and commenced to bounce up and down. I got so shook up that I did something in my pants, which made the flight a bit messy for me. No, I did not do number 1 or number 2. If there was a number 3 then I did that.

Once the bolt was installed we continued our test flight.

Everything was going along fine. We started the flight very late in the afternoon and by this time it was dark. I was sitting at the panel looking out of each window checking the color of the exhaust headers. If all was well they were cherry red. That way you could monitor for a cold cylinder and at the same time monitor the cylinder head temps as indicated on the gage. I cross-checked the instruments against the color of the exhaust headers and I noticed that the color of the left engine headers was getting darker. Soon, I could see the right engine headers but not the left engine. I opened the left window and got sprayed with hot engine oil. We had sprung a leak. I checked the oil tank levels. The right engine had 40 gallons of oil and the left engine had less than twenty gallons. I told the pilot and he headed back to Corpus Christi. Several miles out we declared and emergency and shut down the left engine and feathered the prop. If we had run out of oil we would not be able to feather the prop and the windmilling engine would have destroyed itself.

When we got back on the ground we ran a check stand under the oil soaked engine and peered into the cowling. The nose gearbox sump plug had not been lockwired and it fell out. This job was supposed to be done by a striker. This is a non-rated mechanic that works under the supervision of a senior mechanic a mechanic senior to me. This senior mechanic was the same guy that forgot to install the scissors bolt.


To: Nopax

I'm sorry for the loss of your friend and I did not read the book.

Chuck Ellsworth
16th Jun 2002, 02:15
Hi all:

I have just returned from Europe where I was training some Aussie pilots on their new purchase a former Chilean PBY6A waterbomber.

It is now registered in Australia VH PBZ, it was to be delivered to Sidney via the middle east however due to the war fears in India the trip was postboned and finally cancelled due the arrival of the monsoon season in the Indian ocean.

Some facts on the PBY:

The endurance is approximately twenty hours, depending on power settings. I personally was airborne for ninteen hours and ten minutes in 1968, a lot of that time was at relitavely low power settings.

The airplane holds 1458 imperial gallons of fuel and 110 imperial gallons of oil. Normal average fuel burn is 72 imperial gallons per. hour. We flight plan at 115 knots.

During the war they added extra internal tanks to give very long endurance.

If anyone is interested I could post some of our flight experiences and some of the many problems we encounter flying these things.

I was gone from home for twenty four days on this last job.

Will be home for about two weeks and then go to London to ferry N9521C to Virginia Beach via London - Prestwick - Reykjavik - Narsarsuak - Goose Bay and down to Virginia Beach.

By the way the Aussies have a very nice PBY6A to take home and play with. It flys real nice and looks real good.

Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

16th Jun 2002, 02:30
Stop in and pick up that model of 'NJB on the way by.:D

16th Jun 2002, 14:44
The Yanks put out PBY patrols at Midway when they knew the Japanese were on the way and the Japanese fleets were detected.

So yes, PBY patrols at Pearl Harbor would have raised the alert, but there were other readiness issues. Assessments of Pearl Harbor have suggested that loss of life would have been considerably greater had the battleships been sunk in open ocean.

Feather #3
17th Jun 2002, 01:27

Please; Sydney is in Australia. Sidney [?] is in Nova Scotia?

G'day ;)

Chuck Ellsworth
17th Jun 2002, 02:45
You must forgive me Feather #3, I are only a pilot with not all that much I.Q.

If I had any real smarts I would have been sucessful in life, instead of a poor airplane driver. :D :D :D

Hi again pigboat:

Are you in seven islands? We may be passing quite close to you and need fuel. :) :)

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

Capt. Crosswind
17th Jun 2002, 04:21
Thanks RBFlying for the info:

Looks like the PBY played an important role in the Midway battle & has not been given the credit it deserves.

Re Pearl Harbour
I expect that report also had an element of blame avoidance in it. I'd take that assessment with a large grain of salt.
A capital ship going full speed and with all armament manned is a very difficult target for torpedo bombers in particular.
The fleet in open waters,but still within range of air cover from Honolulu to provide protection, would have been a much more formidable target than sitting ducks in Pearl Harbour.
I do take the point though that any ships disabled would have presented a greater rescue problem than in P/Harbour.

The WWII Nav who told me of the 30 hrs endurance obviously flew in the Cats with the aux fuel tanks mentioned by Chuck.
He also flew a pax service that operated from Perth West Australia to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) which is quite a haul.
He told me the Japs tried to intercept them from Sumatra but the fighters did not have the radius of action to be a problem.

19th Jun 2002, 02:24
Chuck, yep that's where I am. I think you have my e-mail. Lemme know if you're coming through.

Capt. Crosswind, QANTAS began flying the Perth - Colombo service with the PBY-5, the straight flying boat version, on June 29, 1943. The times enroute were on average 27 hours, with 30 hours not unheard of. The aircraft were indeed fitted with extra tanks, and the payloads, mostly mail and priority freight, was restricted to 1200 pounds because of that. Any passengers that were carried were awarded "The Rare and Secret Order of the Double Sunrise" for being airborne more than 24 hours. (Two sunsets westbound, two sunrises eastbound) In October 1943,the service was extended to Karachi. Service with the Cats ended in June 1944, when QANTAS introduced the B-24 (C-87?) on the same route.

20th Jun 2002, 18:30
the only living raf(royal air force) vc is flt lt john cruickshank. he won his for an attack on a u boat when he was severley wounded, 72 wounds! he lives in edinburgh.

Capt. Crosswind
21st Jun 2002, 01:16

Thanks for the well researched info on the Perth /Columbo service.
The ex Nav who flew this service did it all by DR & some astro shots when available.
Remarkable operation when you think about it.

Maybe the operation is worthy of you writing an article for one of the Aviation Magazines ?

Warning Star
21st Jun 2002, 21:48
The PBY's that QANTAS Empire Airways (QEA) were using on the Indian Ocean runs were PBY-5s and PB2Bs ( 5 aircraft in total ). They were all British registered and had been supplied to the RAF under the Lend-Lease Agreement by the U.S, and then modified for civil use by BOAC. QEA Capt. Bill Crowther who was in charge of QEA's new Western Operations Division, gave each of the five aircraft the name of a star used for celestial navigation, Vega Star, Altair Star, Rigel Star, Antares Star and Spica Star

The distance between the company's Nedlands base on Perth's Swan River, and Koggala Lake in Ceylon was 3513nm. ( The USN's Crawley base was around the other side of Pelican Point ). The QEA Cats took off down the Swan River in an overloaded condition with an AUW of 35,000lb compared with the usual peace time weight of 29,000lb. On takeoff 1,980 gallons of fuel was carried ( the aircraft had 8 auxiliary tanks fitted ).

Because of the substantial distance to be covered, QEA devised a long range cruise plan which fitted well in with their operational requirements. This gave an ultimate range of 3616nm in 31.5 hours in still air, or 3070nm in a 15kt headwind.

The shortest crossing ever was 23 hours 45 mins. The longest 32 hours 9 mins. Average was 27-28 hours.

In 1944 the British Air Ministry released two converted B-24 Liberators ( LB30s ), for use on the indian Ocean route. Their cruising speed was around 70kt faster than the Cats.

The introduction of the LB30s on the route in June 1944 did not end the Cats Indian Ocean runs. Only supplemented them. The length of the sea crossing when operating the Liberators was able to be cut by 436 miles since the LB30 service followed the coastline from Perth to Learmonth before setting out across the ocean to Columbo. Journey time was also cut by 10 hours.

The final Catalina flights took place in one direction on 12th July 1945, and the other direction on 18th July 1945.

This feat by QEA ( whose name reverted back to QANTAS in later years ), was one of the most dramatic air services anywhere in the world, which is virtually without parallel to this day, and is one of the proudest moments of the airline's history.

Hi Chuck.

With Regards
H.A.R.S., Sydney, Australia
( Owners of PBY-6A, VH-PBZ )

Chuck Ellsworth
22nd Jun 2002, 00:41
Warning star:

Hi again.

Just a quick note to re assure you that you guys have a real nice PBY.

It flys just like a 6A should all you need to do is get it home in the safest method available and it will last for several lifetimes.

I am looking foward to living in Sydney for several months so I can finish the training with your crew.

Take care:

Cat Driver

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

Capt. Crosswind
22nd Jun 2002, 00:56
Warning Star
Looks like the Indian Ocean operation is worth a book & documentary!
Thanks for the most interesting post.

22nd Jun 2002, 02:56
Capt. Crosswind, here's a link to "Beyond The Dawn" a book about QANTAS. Chapter 11 has a bit about the Catalina operation.www.qantas.com.au/company/history.html

Capt. Crosswind
22nd Jun 2002, 07:57
Thanks for the link Pigboat.
Scuttling the 5 Indian Ocean Cats borders on vandalism.
I never did understand the Lend - Lease principle.
What a pity they could not have been put in storage.

Capt. Crosswind
25th Jun 2002, 02:42
Reading of all the finger pointing & accusations of incompetence made against the Intelligence Services after the Pearl Harbour attack it seems that one major point overlooked was that the Cats were not on patrol. Considering the capability of the acft as detailed in previous posts, the Cats would have provided good warning of the approach of the Jap Fleet & saved the day.
The Cats not being airborne on reccy appears to be a major screw up by the top brass.

25th Jun 2002, 20:00
Some 40 years ago I spent a summer on Macquarie Island. The only way in
and out was by ship, two visits a year There is no airstrip on the island but
there was the story (at that time) that in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s the
diesel generator mechanic on the station had died by accident. As a diesel
mechanic is vital at an isolated location like Macquarie, I was told that the
RAAF flew a replacement to Macquarie using a Catalina. The story as I
remember was the plane landed on the open ocean to the east of the island,
disembarked the mechanic onto a life raft for the station personnel to rescue
using their small boat and immediately took off back to Australia.

I would be curious if any of the PBY enthusiasts have heard of this story and,
perhaps, could fill me in on how accurate my version is.

Capt. Crosswind
27th Jun 2002, 07:37
Devans, I might have a lead on this story, give me a few days
to chase it up.

Warning Star
27th Jun 2002, 08:44
On 7th March 1948, the A.N.A.R.E ( Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition ) was set up on Macquarie Island.
On 8th July that same year, a fatal accident happened at the base. Diesel engineer Charles Scoble was drowned while skating across a frozen lake. This lake is now known as Scoble Lake on the plateau south of the main base.
Due to the critical importance of the diesel generators for the provision of electrical power at the base, the A.N.A.R.E. HQ in Melbourne, Australia arranged to send a replacement engineer, Frank Keating.
This was achieved in August 1948 in a hazardous winter flight using a RAAF Catalina ( from 11 SQN I think ), equipped with JATO rockets to assist in it's takeoff from the water near the Macquarie Island base.

Hope this is of value.
With Regards
H.A.R.S., Sydney, Australia

27th Jun 2002, 19:54
Thank you very much, Warning Star, for the information. The facts
you provided are in good agreement with the story I had heard
years ago. The seas are rough at that latitude in the summer
and a winter landing and takeoff would have been very
hazardous indeed.

Thanks again

Dave Evans

Capt. Crosswind
29th Jun 2002, 09:46
RBFlying, after your info ref the Midway Battle I did a square search for a documentary I knew I had on this action. Just found it.
The role of the Cats in finding the Jap fleet gets one sentence & 15 seconds of video.
Reflecting on this operation one has to admire the airmanship & courage of the aircrews who flew these missions.
They were virtually in the position of hunting a tiger without a gun. Once they found the Jap fleet the Jap fleet had obviously found them also. Apart from the evasion tactics they also had to find their way back to base over vast expanse of ocean.
It must have called for a top Nav in these crews.
Were many PBY Patrols intercepted & shot down on this & other actions I wonder ??

30th Jun 2002, 15:38
Hollywood’s ‘recollections’ of the events of the first week of Dec 1941 notwithstanding, the attack on Pearl Harbo(u)r was little more than a sideshow. The main Japanese attack was on Malaya and the Philippines, and the timing was based around catching the Brits and the Yanks with their pants down early on Monday morning, Dec 8th, after another dissipated weekend. (With Hawaii being on the other side of the international dateline, where it was still Sunday, Dec 7th, this seems to confuse may people into thinking the attacks on Hawaii preceded the invasion of Malaya, which isn’t so. The Japanese had landed just north of the Thai border and attacked Kota Bahru in Malaya on the Sunday night, before they attacked Pearl Harbo(u)r.

My point for this pocket history lesson? I understand that the first Allied casualty of the Pacific war was an Australian PBY whose crew had sighted and reported the invasion fleet steaming south from Vietnam and off the Thai coast on the Sunday afternoon. They were promptly shot down by supporting Zeros, long before the war ‘officially’ started.

There are some who maintain that the first major casualty of the Pacific war actually occurred two weeks earlier, when HMAS Sydney, the Australian cruiser, was lost with all hands off the West Australian coast when it encountered the German merchant cruiser Kormoran. (For those not familiar with the term, a merchant cruiser was a cargo ship converted to be an armed raider, an unlikely winner in an encounter with a major warship, even if it did get the first salvo in.)

There have been allegations almost from the start that a (then neutral) Japanese submarine might have been involved in the engagement, possibly surprised by Sydney when rendezvousing with the Kormoran for who knows what purpose. There have been books published pooh poohing these allegations and ‘proving’ that Sydney’s captain was a reckless fool whose past performance suggested that he might well have sailed right up alongside the disguised raider and presented himself as an unmissable target. (The Naval version of ‘pilot error’?) This of course begs the question: what were the Sea Lords or their Australian equivalent thinking putting such a man in charge of Australia’s best ship?

Over 300 of the German crew survived, but not one Australian, and the only trace of Sydney ever found was a bullet-riddled life raft – and the bullet holes were clearly from small arms, not shrapnel. The raft is now on show at the Australian War Memorial.

I believe the people who found the ‘Titanic’ and the ‘Bismarck’ have ‘Sydney’ on their list of wrecks to locate and photograph. If and when they find it, it could re-write history, although in this day of Political Correctness, I’d be guessing that if these allegations were found to be true, they would be still too hard to swallow, and my money would be on the Australian Government sitting on any unpalatable findings in the interests of brotherly love among nations – to say nothing of tourism and trade.

1st Jul 2002, 02:25
Here's a couple more links to wartime action involving the Canso.


Those guys had big ones, made of brass.

The PBY now flying for the Canadian Warplane Heritage has now been dedicated to F/L Hornell.


Capt. Crosswind
3rd Jul 2002, 06:08
When Bismark gave the Royal Navy the slip South of the Denmark Strait an intensive sea/air hunt was mounted by RAF & RN.
Bismark was found & shadowed by a RAF PBY which set up the Swordfish (another under rated WWII acft) attack which disabled Bismark's steering,leading to her eventual destruction.

The PBY was operating out of Lough Erne, Nth Ireland & under the command of F/O Dennis Briggs. His co pilot was Ensign T Smith of the USN who really should not have been flying with RAF on combat ops at that stage of WWII,but had been seconded to the RAF to assist with the introduction of the lend- lease PBY's.
In attempting to get a better look at Bismark to confirm the sighting ( in poor viz & low cloud); they inadvertantley broke cloud over the ship & were instantly brassed up, taking a number of hits but no crew casualties. They shadowed Bismark until relieved by a Swordfish - this alerting Captain Lindeman that a carrier was now within range.
PBY's operating out of Iceland had previously played a major role in shadowing Bismark when she sailed through Denmark Straits.

Chuck Ellsworth
3rd Jul 2002, 15:18
The PBY that found the Bismark was WQZ.

Last summer we flew for Mirimax, filming the movie "Below " which should be released anytime now.

The movie starts with the PBY painted exactly as it was during the war, we even had real Browning 50 caliber machine guns installed as well as depth charges hung under the wings.

On the first flight with the depth charges hung unnder the wings I was quite suprised at the amount of drag and loss of speed caused by having them there.

When the movie is finally released you must see it, there is some of the most awesome footage of a PBY in flight you will ever see.

Cat Driver:

:D The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.:D

Capt. Crosswind
4th Jul 2002, 02:14
Thanks for the headsup on the movie Chuck, it's a must see.
The more I dig into PBY Ops in WWII the more I realise what a magnificent aircraft it was & what an important role it played in both the Pacific & Atlantic naval operations.
There is no doubt a large volume waiting to be written on this subject.

Chuck Ellsworth
4th Jul 2002, 16:18
Capt. xwind:

Wait until you see the PBY6A HARS just bought, it is a really nice example of the type and flys real nice.

Cat Driver

Capt. Crosswind
5th Jul 2002, 09:02
Quite a few ex Cat people are looking forward to its arrival.

Capt. Crosswind
9th Jul 2002, 02:27
Info I have is as already posted by Warning Star -
I can confirm that the acft was from 11 SQN as surmised by
The acft tail No. was A24-104 & departure point was from
Operation was hairy due Wx as mentioned.

Ref Wiley's post on PBY shot down 07 Dec 1941.
I may have some info available on this operation shortly.

Capt. Crosswind
11th Jul 2002, 01:03
As posted by Wiley, a PBY was shot down after locating & reporting the Japanese invasion fleet off the Thai coast,enroute to Kota Bahru.This incident occured on the 7th December (USA date/time) some hours before the Pearl Harbour attack. As Wiley surmised this was the first casualty of the Pacific war.
The PBY was from RAF 205 Sqn and the sortie was launched after a previous PBY sent on the same task failed to return. It is uncertain as to the fate of the first acft.
The crew may well have been RAAF, as an account of the incident is mentioned in the official RAAF history.
I may have more on this operation in a week or so.

11th Jul 2002, 01:37
Capt, take a look at www.zianet.com/tmorris/charlie.html . It has the story of a rescue of a crewman from the USCG cutter Bibb. At the time the Bibb was acting as Ocean Station Charlie in the North Atlantic. They had a crewman fall ill, and he was airlifted to Newfoundland by a PBY based in Argentia NF.
It also has the story, albeit in a condensed form, of the rescue of the passengers from the Bermuda Sky Queen, a Boeing 314 that was forced landed in the Atlantic near the Bibb, because of insufficient fuel to make Gander.

11th Jul 2002, 03:58

You said that your delivery flight through the middle east and India was cancelled. Does this mean that you are going over the Pacific or waiting until after the Monsoon season?



Chuck Ellsworth
11th Jul 2002, 15:34

HARS will be making a decision soon on wether to fly it or dismantle it and ship it by sea.

Cat Driver:

Capt. Crosswind
12th Jul 2002, 06:23
Thanks for the website P/Boat.
Great stories which I have copied to a floppy for my library & onforwarded to a couple of pals who are exCat, which regretably I am not. I once haunted the hangar of a company operating a PBY for geophysical survey to get a co pilot job; but wound up flying an Avro Anson on low level photogrammetry.

Chuck Ellsworth
12th Jul 2002, 16:20
Capt. X/W:

Was it a Mk5?

Didn't you just love those vaccum over hydraulic brakes?

Only the British would think of such an abortion to stop an airplane.:D :D :D

Cat Driver:

13th Jul 2002, 02:44
Not a lot of people these days who have flown in a Anson Capt. C: I have, when it was the station hack at Cottesmore, 1960, with one J E Johnson as the pilot! He was the Station Commander, I was self-loading joy-rider.

There is a very good article in the July edition of Pacific Wings [which is available in OZ I think] by one of the current pilots of the New Zealand Catalina. He is a lot younger than the aircraft, and found some amusement in his conversion to type, like 'avoiding making Catalina shaped holes in hangars while taxying'.

That is the second Catalina of course, the first one having made a night ditching in the Pacific en-route.

13th Jul 2002, 03:05
Stay away from the C-46 with drum brakes with the expansion bladders. One application before they faded to nothing.:eek:

Capt. Crosswind
13th Jul 2002, 05:59
Chuck, Yes it was a MK5 , and as you say the braking system was not designed to make life easy. I recall it was a bitch to taxi & prone to losing all braking when you got to the ramp.
The Germans are as adept as Brit designers in bastard brake systems.
Another less than usefull way to stop an airplane was the pneumatic braking system on the Junkers JU52-3M.
You pulled the boost levers back past idle to get braking.
You know the way it works - nothing for five seconds - pull a little bit more - nothing happens - then you get max braking & the
acft trying to stand on its nose. All accompanied by loud hissing & blowing noises from the system & expletives from the handling pilot.

Capt. Crosswind
13th Jul 2002, 06:13
Thanks for the comment Samuel - as the man in the R/H seat on your Anson flight I guess you got the task of winding up the gear, two hundred odd turns of the crank, I think.
Yes Pacific Wings is available in OZ - thanks for the advice.

I didn't hear about the Cat ditching & maybe others on the forum haven't heard of the accident . How about relating story ??

Capt. Crosswind
13th Jul 2002, 06:18
Pigboat, you're a brave man to have flown the C46.
I've heard it described as a single engine acft with half an engine on each wing !
But then so was the Anson,I guess.

Chuck Ellsworth
13th Jul 2002, 13:43
Capt. /XW:

I flew several Ansons on magnatometer work in the mid sixties for Austin Airways, actually the things flew quite nicely, except when it got to the part where you needed brakes.:D :D

Cat Driver

13th Jul 2002, 19:33
Capt. C, I didn't realise at the time I was "asked" by Johnie if I wanted to fly. As a young airman in total awe of the man I was into the seat before he got into his! It was much, much later that I realisedhow much the volunteer had to do, but mainly in respect of winding the undercarriage up.

As I recall it seemed a fairly sedate old bird. I might add that I pulled that 'take me with you' stunt on at least forty different types.

Capt. Crosswind
15th Jul 2002, 02:53
Chuck,That sounds pretty hairy to me,with the equipment & crew crammed into an Anson, you must have been grossed up every T/O. Engine failure on runs would have left you no altitude to go any where except down.
In comparison the photo survey Anson was walk in the park.
Just a pilot,survey nav, Wild RC9 camera & a skinny camera operator. Always well under MTOW except on ferry. It was a good stable camera platform,but always a sweat in a congested ramp area,because of the braking system.
We were usually around 6,000 ft on the runs, so when the stbd
engine sprayed oil all over the wing I was able to make a field about twenty miles away with 500ft up my sleeve when I got there.

All the magnatometer work was done by the PBY,because of the bulk/weight of the equipment & crew required.

I've got a couple more PBY stories in the pipeline - watch this space.

Capt. Crosswind
15th Jul 2002, 03:04
Samuel,you'd have liked my Anson as it had an electric undercarriage mod. Sheer luxury (for the Nav) when it was fitted.
Would you be able to dig up the story on the Kiwi PBY ditching?

15th Jul 2002, 03:44
I'll try. Basically, the aircraft was purchased and serviced for the flight LA to Auckland, and flown by an American familiar with that particular aircraft but accompanied by a Kiwi co-pilot and one or two others. The aircraft turned back after the first attempt, but seemed fine on the second. They lost an engine well out into the Pacific, perhaps around Tonga, and had to make a night landing! They could see nothing of course and had to set the aircraft up in the shallowest of descents known to man, and did in fact land, though causing the hull to rupture. They all took to the liferaft, and were picked up the next day by a container ship diverted for that reason. The aircraft sank.

Australian Aviation published on its Talkback [airways?]a transcript of the Oceania radio communications prior to the landing and up to the rescue. I'm sure they would recall it, and I believe, sell you a tape! I don't think there was a book, but certainly an article in Pacific Wings, or New Zealand Wings as it was then.

Capt. Crosswind
15th Jul 2002, 08:15
Thanks Sam, that one must have slipped past me when I was up North for a couple of months.
Is the current Kiwi PBY a working acft or a warbird?

15th Jul 2002, 08:24
It's a warbird; doesn't do any commercial work as far as I know.

I last saw it at Wanaka at Easter. It's quite a sight to see it touch down only metres away; all very gentle and delicate!Sounds nice on take-off also!

Kermit 180
15th Jul 2002, 09:52
The NZ Warbirds Catalina conducts weekend local scenics to raise funds to keep it in the air.

KermieWarbirds (http://www.nzwarbirds.org.nz/)

I. M. Esperto
16th Jul 2002, 15:07
I have a neighbor, Walter Conway, who flew the Cats in the Pac during the war.

I invited him to make replies, but he declined.

Does anyone remember Walter Conway?

He was curious about old buddies.

16th Jul 2002, 20:57
Capt. the Kiwi PBY operated for years in Canada with Austin Airways, with the registration CF-JCV. I remember it from 1966 when I was on another PBY, CF-IHN, that Austin had wet leased from our company. At that time they had two, JCV and CF-AAD.
AAD was lost and was replaced with CF-DFB. When Austin got out of the PBY operation, DFB became a water bomber and JCV went to the west coast where it operated for awhile as a flying fishing lodge. When that operation ceased, it was stored in the desert for awhile. The next I heard of it, JCV was registered as Z-CAT in Harare. A father - son team from Montreal flew it up and down the Nile, from Alexandria to Lake Victoria I believe, hauling tourists. That operation didn't last long, and the aircraft was acquired by the Kiwi association. Chuck has almost surely flown it.
The C-46 was actually a great airplane if it was flown at reasonable weights. The old style expander brakes left a lot to be desired. On a foggy day, you could hear the squeaks and groans from the braking system before the aircraft hove into view. I have very little time on it, since I left that company to go fly the F-27 for another operator.
Some operators flew the passenger version. Once on a ramp somewhere, a nervous passenger asked the Captain why the aircraft he was about to board had only two engines. The pilot, obviously thinking on his feet, pointed to the second row of cylinders and informed the guy that that was the second engine in back of the first, and the same arrangement could be found on the other wing. Two plus two equalled four engines.:D

Chuck Ellsworth
16th Jul 2002, 21:21
Yup Pigboat:

I flew all of them at Austin. in fact me and a young thing performed a truly digstusting act in the left Blister of JCV one fine day near Port Harrison. :)

I met my wife on a trip in AAD after the above incident and never again sinned. :) :)

DFB is now on a pedestal in NFLD.

The last time I flew JCV was its last commercial flights in Canada on the sport fishing thing.

Bob Dyck and Ray Bernard were the last Canadian pilots to have flown JCV in Africa and Bob ferried it to N.Z. and still goes over to do annual rides for the Kiwis.

The Africa safari thing was a good idea, however African corruption and bizarre politics swamped the project. There is a good video about it called "The Last African Flying Boat." well worth looking for.

Cat Driver

17th Jul 2002, 02:25
When the former RAF Station at Seletar in Singapore became a largely civilian operation. with Lockheed operating out of at least two hangars, there were some interestingly vaguely marked C46 Commandos drifting in and out.

They didn't "look" quite right did they!

17th Jul 2002, 03:17
Chuck, did ya get above 5000 feet between the Whale and PH?:D :D If you have Milberry's book about Austin, I hope she was a little more ahh..svelte than the lady being helped aboard on page 133.:p

Capt, check out www.catalina.org.nz/new_page_1.htm if you don't already know about it. They may have the story of the first attempt of the transpac crossing.

Samuel, were those 46's bare metal finish with no registration marks?:)

Chuck Ellsworth
17th Jul 2002, 17:44

Yes I have the book and just checked page 133,, my God that is her getting into JCV!!!!

Yes it happened at 5280 feet.

Boy that picture brings tears to my eyes remembering..

How can I ever thank you P.B. for pointing that picture out to me?

Cat Driver

17th Jul 2002, 19:36
Yes PB. Definitely no markings, but given it was 1974-75 and I was an RNZAF Flt Lt at the time, I put two and two together and came up with Air America!

There was a Herc arrived there on the day of the fall of Saigon which was equally unidentifiable, but which rumour had it was promptly claimed by the Singapore Government.

19th Jul 2002, 01:02
:D :D

Lu Zuckerman
19th Jul 2002, 01:28
Many years ago an Air Force PBY flying out of (I believe) Elmendorf AFB in Alaska found itself in a white out in a mountainous area. The pilot was familiar with the various peaks and their respective altitude. Knowing where he was when he entered the whiteout he began to climb with the intention of flying over the mountain range. He was several minutes into the climb when the aircraft lurched. The airspeed dropped to zero and his rate of climb indicated no climb and no dive. His altimeter also stopped indicating an increase in climb. His first thought was his pitot sensing or his static port had frozen over. He turned on the pitot heat with no effect. The airplane was in a cloud and the pilot was totally unaware of his situation. The pilot very slowly retarded the throttles until the engines were at idle. The aircraft rolled slightly and the flight engineer lowered the floats. It seems that the P Boat intersected the rising surface of the mountain at a very slight angular difference and became stuck in the snow. The crew was eventually rescued by an AF H-19 and to my understanding the P Boat is still there.


Capt. Crosswind
19th Jul 2002, 06:17
By late Nov/41 it was obvious the long expected Jap advance into SE Asia was imminent, but the whereabouts of the invasion armada was a mystery.
On his own initiative Adm T. Hart CinC Asiatic Fleet ( in the Phillipines) personally briefed his PBY crews to find the Jap fleet
and" Try to do it without being seen,and don't bring on a war".

* In effect the PBY now became the first aircraft to commence ops in the Pacific War.

On Dec 02 the PBY's found the fleet assembling in Cam Ranh Bay,some 20 ships. On 03 Dec the fleet had grown to 30 ships consisting of cruisers,destroyers & troop transports.
On the 04 Dec they had vanished.

Washington,CinC Pac & Cinc Asiatic were convinced Malaysia or Singapore was the fleets destination. The British Government however, was not convinced - at a meeting of Service Chiefs in London on Dec 06 they stated that the Japanese may be "just cruising around as a bluff" !!
On 06 Dec an RAAF Hudson spotted the fleet & an RAF 205 Sqn
Catalina was despatched to continue the shadowing. This aircraft was never heard from and its fate is unknown.
A second Catalina from RAF 205 Sqn was sent on task and having found the fleet was attacked & shot down by a Nakajima Ki-27 , Japanese Army fighter .

* The Catalina was the first casualty of the Pacific War.

The landing at Kota Bahru did not take place until late that day,so this was the first act of war against Britain - not the pre-landing bombardment at KB.

I. M. Esperto
19th Jul 2002, 11:55

Very interesting. I had not heard of this. Can you cite a source/reference?

19th Jul 2002, 18:18

This story is also recounted by E.K. Gann in Fate is the Hunter. The landing site was the Greenland icecap.

Capt. Crosswind
20th Jul 2002, 04:55
Sure thing IME, I browsed a number of references including
Royal Australian Air Force 1939-1942, Douglass Gillison & Blood ,Tears & Folly, Len Deighton - which has many more references listed. Len Deighton drew on such works as History of US Naval Operations WWII, S.E.Morison; War in the Far East,Basil Collier et al.
I recommend Deighton's work for your bookshelf.

When reading through this period you get the impression that the US was 100% convinced the Japs were about to attack the British & Dutch possession in SE Asia. At the same time they thought the chance of Japan attacking the US was remote. Meanwhile the British government & top brass were not a bit concerned & felt any attack very unlikely & easily handled if it did eventuate.


20th Jul 2002, 07:51
Captain Crosswind is quite correct regarding the attitude of the colonial Brits towards the ‘squinty-eyed Orientals’ and the main thrust of the Japanese attack. Despite Hollywood’s constant re-writing of history, where the US is at the centerpiece of everything, the main Japanese thrust in December 1941 was indeed directed towards securing the oil reserves of the Dutch East Indies and the strategically vital rubber-producing British territory of Malaya.

The main Imperial Fleet had no real role to play in this initial attack, for the Japanese had their excellent long range naval bomber force operating from land bases in French Indo China to protect the invasion fleet, (a role they carried out with devastating effect, which can be illustrated by the fate of the Prince of Wales and Repulse when they steamed north from Singapore without air cover to intercept the fleet on 10 Dec).

This meant there was no role for the main fleet, and the Navy wanted their slice of the glory, so they ran what amounted to little more than a sideshow in the Hawaii operation. Militarily, it could have been brilliant, and would have been if they had stuck to plan and followed up with a second attack on the US oil installations later in the day (and even moreso if they had caught the US carriers in port as well). However, politically, it was a truly disastrous decision, for it awoke the ‘sleeping tiger’ of US public opinion and unleashed the full might of the US industrial giant against them.

The ‘what ifs’ are tantalizing.

What if the Japanese had gone West into Siberia to support their allies, the Germans, (the other option, strongly favoured by the Imperial Army)? The Russians barely held the Germans in the desperate battles outside Moscow in late 1941, and only because they were able to strip the majority of their large forces from the Manchurian border and rush them to the European front after their spy in the German Embassy in Tokyo gave them the word that the Japanese had decided to go South into the NEI and Malaya in reaction to the oil embargo the Brits had slapped on them in 1941. With a war on two fronts, the Russians (or at least Stalin and the Communist Party) would not have survived that winter… and that would have totally re-written the history of the war in Europe for the Western Allies. Imagine if the Germans had had just half of the forces they committed to Russia (or ‘just’ the million+ men they lost at Stalingrad) available to use in North Africa and to oppose the Normandy invasion? – (which would never have happened, certainly not as early as 1944, BTW). Far more likely, the Brits would have faced starvation thanks to the U Boat offensive and it is probable they would have had to accept ‘peace’ and some form of German occupation, if only political.

What if the Japanese had concentrated on just the Dutch and the British territories? Militarily, it would have been very dangerous, leaving them with an exposed left flank, (the US forces in the Philippines and the untouched US fleet in Hawaii). But on the other side of the coin, they would have had all those assets used in the Philippines and Guam to present a very swift fiat accompli that might have taken them all the way to Fiji and Australia – and Rooseveldt would have had the devil of a time convincing a very unwilling US public to become involved in a war that ‘didn’t concern them’, just as the war in Europe was seen by most in the US. (Most people in the US then wouldn’t have been able to find Malaya – or Australia – on a map.) And remember, the Japanese plan all along was simply to grab territory that would allow them to negotiate a peace treaty from a position of strength. Without the high passions that Pearl Harbour created in the US psyche, they might well have got away with it, and a defeated Australia might have become nothing more than a huge Japanese mining camp and holiday resort. (Australia nothing more than a huge Japanese mining camp and holiday resort? Wait a minute….)

What if Macarthur (the US generalissimo in the Philippines) had put his forces on a proper war footing the day after Pearl Harbour? Admiral Kimmel, the leader of US forces in Hawaii, took the whole rap over Pearl Harbour. But Macarthur, with none of the excuses Kimmel had, escaped with his reputation intact over his huge screw up on the day following the Pearl Harbour attack when he allowed all his long range bombers to return to base from patrol for lunch(!) The Japanese, (surprise, surprise), attacked then and wiped out almost every B17 and PBY in the Philippines – on the ground. It’s been posited by more than one observer what a difference those aircraft would have made had they been available to oppose the invasion fleet approaching the Philippines.

And one last what if. What if the RN carrier that was on its way to Malaya in late 1941 hadn’t run aground in the West Indies? None of the RN carrier-borne aircraft were a match for the Zero, but its mere presence would have changed the equation in those first few months hugely, even if it had remained in the Indian Ocean.

I. M. Esperto
20th Jul 2002, 12:02
Gentlemen - many thanks for all of this excellent information, much of which I was unaware of.

Another "What If" - What if we had lost at Midway?

Our West Coast and the Panama Canal would be under attack, and perhaps the Axis forces would have triumphed worldwide.

Frightening scenario, indeed.

20th Jul 2002, 13:07
I. M. Esperto, may I recommend an excellent read “What If? – Military Historians Imagine What Might have Been” edited by Robert Crowley (ISBN 0 330 48724 8).

This book includes an alternative outcome of the Battle of Midway and posits how Nimitz would have been pilloried for making horrific errors of tactical judgment if the battle hadn’t gone the way it did – and even with all the Americans had going for them with knowing the Japanese codes, it still went very close to not going their way.

I. M. Esperto
20th Jul 2002, 15:23
Wiley - Again, thank you.

All of this makes some sense of the "Divine Intervention" theory, doesn't it?

Capt. Crosswind
21st Jul 2002, 08:42
I.M. Esperto:
I.M. in the case of Midway at least the PBY's had found the Jap fleet for Nimitz. For which the accounts of Midway never seem to give due credit, I was unaware of their role until it was pointed out by R.B.Flying previously. Anyway, I still think the USN would have prevailed even if Midway was not won.

Thanks for the web site - lots of good gen.
Makes me wish I'd made that Cat co-pilot job years ago ,but I was a day late & a dollar short.

I was always amused in that era in SE Asia to arrive at an airport & in the GA section would be 50 acft painted all colours of the rainbow . In the middle of it all a nondescript grey acft would stand out like a shag on a rock & we'd all say " Oh look the CIA are in town."

Thanks for the good gen.

Capt. Crosswind
23rd Jul 2002, 10:08
Reading further into Midway, we need to give credit to the codebeakers at CinC Pac. They had partially broken a tough Jap Navy code JN25 & so the Cats were looking in the right region, not in the Aleutians which was Washington's original bet.

27th Jul 2002, 04:08
Had a fine time reading through the posts since the last ime I looked.

Yep, the Japanese underestimated Westerners as much as Westerners underestimated them.

They lost Midway because of an accumulation of factors: the major ones were:[list=1] the vulnerability of their carriers to combat damage. Bombs went through the Japanese flight decks and started uncontrollable fires in the hangar decks.
Americans outclassed them totally on combat damage limitation and repair. Two Japanese carriers were damaged at Coral Sea and taken off the Midway force.

The Yorktown was damaged at Coral Sea and repaired in Pearl Harbor in time to make Midway. After being damaged at Midway, repair parties got it back in shape so well that the second Japanese air attack thought it was the other carrier.
[/list=1] Without Coral Sea, it would have been 6 carriers vs. 2.

Capt. Crosswind
27th Jul 2002, 08:00
Thanks for that info RBF, of which I was unaware.
In your post of 17 June you mentioned an assessment re Pearl Harbour that if the fleet had been at sea the losses would have been heavier. I've come across a similar argument that supports this to a considerable degree.
Firstly the loss of life & casualties would have been less if the fleet was ready at action stations at sea as the high loss of life & casualty rate in the attack was due to burns(60%). Reason being men were in underwear or half dressed & not wearing anti flash combat clothing when they went to action stations at such short notice.
On the other hand any of the battleships sunk at sea would not have been recoverable. Quite a few of the ships sunk at Pearl were refloated & returned to action as we know.
The question is how would the attack have gone against a fleet in open waters at action stations, with a CAP provided by the shore based fighters ??
Looking at other engagements Coral Sea & Midway, we can think the torpedo bombers would not have done much damage,but the dive bombers are different matter.
The Jap Navy torpedo bombers on the other hand had been responsible for sinking Repulse & Prince of Wales.
Anyone got any theories on how this would have gone ?

27th Jul 2002, 13:01
CC, The Yanks acquitted themselves very well in later naval engagements, but when you're suddenly in a war, there's some hard lessons that have to be learnt or relearnt.

The principal naval lesson of WWII is that air cover wins naval engagements, but Billy Mitchell got court-martialled when he pushed that point too hard. It took Pearl Harbor etc. to clue in the Yanks properly.

And they learned very quickly. For them to have done better at PH would likely have required that they had already absorbed the hard lessons of the early months of WWII.

Lu Zuckerman
27th Jul 2002, 14:23
To: Captain Crosswind

Reason being men were in underwear or half dressed & not wearing anti flash combat clothing when they went to action stations at such short

The US Navy only in recent years adopted the use of anti flash protective clothing. At the time of Pearl Harbor the only clothing other than underwear worn by sailors were a chambray shirt and dungarees which didn’t offer much protection at all.


I. M. Esperto
27th Jul 2002, 14:50
Bombs penetrated the flight decks of US carriers as well. They were no armored.

Some RN carriers (perhaps all) had armored flight decks, but this made them very tender, and induced rolling.

27th Jul 2002, 20:35
IME, Agreed bombs penetrated to Yank hangar decks, but did not cause the same uncontrollable fires as in Japanese carriers because they purged their fuel lines with CO2 (or other inert gas) when attack reported on way -- among other precautions.

Capt. Crosswind
28th Jul 2002, 03:43
Lu, the USN not having this clothing at the time of Pearl is incredible. This snippet I picked up from a documentary.
I'm fairly certain that anti flash gear developed from lessons learnt in WWI & most Navies were equipped well before WWII.
I understand from your post that this equipment was not introduced in the USN during WWII, or have I misunderstood?

RBF & IME, how do you feel the Jap torpedo, dive & high level bombers would have gone against the battle ships in open waters ? Were the the battle ships well equipped with anti aircraft defence ? It seems the Royal Navy ships were not at that stage of the war, in fact the Australian desroyer in company with Z Force, Repulse & Prince of Wales, was incapable of any anti aircraft defence whatsoever!! In adddition the force commander Vice Adm Sir Thomas Phillips was contemptuous of air attack as a threat to battle ships, an attitude widespread in the
Royal Navy at the time. Consequently the AA gunnery control system in service was useless on a good day.
The USN on the other hand had opted for the tachymetric system which was far better equipment. Would it have put the balance in favour of the battle ships ??

Lu Zuckerman
28th Jul 2002, 13:49
To: Capt. Crosswind


Lu, the USN not having this clothing at the time of Pearl is incredible. This snippet I picked up from a documentary.
I'm fairly certain that anti flash gear developed from lessons learnt in WWI & most Navies were equipped well before WWII.
I understand from your post that this equipment was not introduced in the USN during WWII, or have I misunderstood?

There is a possibility that gunners in the turrets of large ships may have worn anti flash masks but the average sailor was not so well equipped. I have seen many documentaries about the British Navy and it was shown that sailors at their battle stations wore anti flash masks and I can only assume that the clothing was anti flash as well.

On one of my jobs I had to do the maintainability analysis on the propulsion system of the LHA, which, was steam powered. I got a chance to go aboard several large steam powered ships to talk with the sailors in the “Black Gang”. They indicated that on occasions during the light off there was a flash back where flames were ejected from the light off port on the boiler. I asked about protective clothing and they indicated that there was none.

As a result I wrote an article in a US Navy Safety Magazine outlining my findings. I recommended that at the least the black gang crew be issued Nomex clothing and some face and hand protection. Although the article got critical review nothing was done about my recommendations. At least, not at that time. Now when the ships are in a combat situation some of the crew will wear anti flash clothing.

Capt. Crosswind
29th Jul 2002, 07:53
Thanks Lu, for a very interesting story.
My sea time was in a destroyer at the end of the Korean War.
Gun Crews & Damage Control Crews were equipped with anti flash hoods & gauntlets, other positions with anti flash hoods.
Artificial fibre ( nylon ) clothing or underwear was prohibited as were shorts or short sleeve shirts.
The denim working rig was supposed to provide protection from flash. Wool long socks & wool pullovers were part of the rig, environment permitting for the latter. Engine room crew from memory had anti flash hoods & gauntlets.

I. M. Esperto
29th Jul 2002, 13:37
I was on DE's in 1950 and 1952, and only the engineers and gunners had protective clothing.

29th Jul 2002, 22:11
I have read an account of pilots using their Catalinas as dive bombers-apparently no dive brakes were needed and they would top out at about 240 kts. I now have to find the book for better details to share.

Chuck-have you ever tried that ?

Apologies if this is already in the thread-I scanned for it but can't read the whole thread right now...

30th Jul 2002, 03:03
Ahh...240kt seems a mite warm for a PBY. I don't think all the parts would be in formation at that speed. :eek:

I. M. Esperto
30th Jul 2002, 14:41
Max speed 179 MPH.

Capt. Crosswind
1st Aug 2002, 03:42
Lunkenheimer, I once flew with an instructor who in WWII had been involved in a low level dawn bombing raid against Jap shipping in Rabaul Harbour. The raid was mounted from Port Moresby which is a long haul, and caught the enemy defences flat footed. I'm trying to research the details for the forum at this time. Not a divebombing attack but a bombing raid none the less.

Capt. Crosswind
1st Aug 2002, 04:52
The world's first act of armed air piracy occured on July 16 1948 with the attempted take over of a Cathay Pacific Catalina enroute Macao to Hong Kong. The attempted hijack went badly & the aircraft crashed into the Pearl River estuary with only one survivor,Wong Yu, who was also one of the hijackers.

The Background:
Macao was not a signatory to the Betton Woods restrictions on gold trading, and had quickly become an important gold trading centre after WWII. The Catalina was the ideal aircraft for operations between Macao,Hong Kong & Saigon for this trade, Macao lacking a suitable airfield but having an ideal harbour for flying boat operations.

The Aircraft :
VR-HDT named "Miss Macao" was an ex USN PBY5A purchased in Manila from the U.S. Government Liquidation Commission in 1947,and having logged less than 1,000 hours of operations in her military career, was in good condition.

The Crew:
Pilot in command was Capt. Dale Cramer a former USN pilot who had served in Patrol Squadron 45 during WWII and had left the USN in 1947.
Co-pilot was F/O Ken McDuff a 23 year old Australian.
Stewardess was Miss Delca Da Costa a 21 year old Macanese.

The Hijackers:
The leader was Choi Tok who had some limited amphibian flying experience.
He was accompanied by two clansmen from his village. These three carried pistols.
The fourth member of the gang was Wong Yu a rice farmer , who had local knowledge of the area the highjacked Catalina would be flown to.
He was not armed & took no part in the hijack ,remaining belted in his seat. This is probably the reason he survived the crash.

The Passengers:
Twenty three passengers perished in the crash , some of the passengers were wealthy & prominent Macanese.

The Plan:
Choi Tok proposed to take over the aircraft & fly to a remote coastal location known to Wong Yu, where the aircraft would be beached & plundered. He expected that there would be gold bullion carried on the flight.

The Attempted Hijack:
Information obtained from Wong Fu & forensic evidence gives a picture of events.
Minutes after take off from Macau, F/O McDuff left the cockpit to attend to retraction of the wing floats. The hijackers made their move and at pistol point attempted to assume control. A scuffle broke out when McDuff & some of the passengers grappled with the pirates. Shots were fired & Captain Cramer was hit , being killed instantly. Out of control the Catalina , according to an eyewitness fisherman , went into a spiral dive into the estuary. The same fisherman rescued Wong Fu , the only survivor he could find.

The Conclusion:
The Portuguese took Wong Yu & some of the gang's Macanese associates into custody but had difficulty with the legal apects of charging Wong Yu for an act of piracy on a British registered aircraft in international airspace.
The Macao authorities suggested that he be handed over to the Hong Kong government ,but the Hong Kong authorities doubted that there was sufficient evidence to bring him to trial.
After bring held in custody for three years he was released & he returned to his mainland China village.
Rumour had it that he was subjected to summary justice either by the Chinese authorities who had a zero tolerance policy towards piracy , or perhaps by relatives of the prominent Macanese killed in the crash.

To prevent firearms being taken on board aircraft it was suggested that metal detectors screen passengers before boarding. It was also suggested that the cockpit door be kept locked but this was finally decided to be not practical.

"--and that which is done is that which shall be done : and there is no new thing under the sun." Ecclesiastes

2nd Aug 2002, 23:17
Black Cat Raiders (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1557504717/qid=1028326930/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-2171531-0977513) discusses Cats in The Pacific theatre -- very close to home for Oz readers, but very much a history of USA units.

Miracle at Midway (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140068147/qid=1028329655/sr=1-1/ref=sr_1_1/104-2171531-0977513) discusses the reconnaissance role played by cats -- something was learned after Pearl Harbor.

I don't get money from Amazon, but they are useful.

Capt. Crosswind
12th Aug 2002, 08:24
I have come across a reference to a USN PBY dropping depth charges & sinking a midget submarine in the Pearl Harbour approaches at 0630 on the morning of the Japanese attack.
This is new to me & I wonder if the historian is confused with the attack on a midget submarine at about this time by the USS Ward. The destroyer attacked a partially submerged midget sub with gunfire & scored a direct hit. My info is that it did not use depth charges. Dr. Robert Ballard has carried out a search for this submarine in recent years but was unsuccessful.
Has any Pruner details of this PBY attack, if it did occur?

Capt. Crosswind
16th Aug 2002, 06:47
To: I M Esperto

IME , you mentioned you had pal who flew Cats in WWII.
I'd be interested to hear what nav techniques were used
on the long range patrols over the Pacific.
I guess the B3 Gyro Stabilised Drift Sight & Bubble Sextant must have been key equipment. The need for radio silence probably would preclude the use of HF/DF & VHF/DF in most areas in the early days of the conflict?

I. M. Esperto
16th Aug 2002, 11:41
It was Dead Reckoning, and the bubble sextant, from what I'm told.

16th Aug 2002, 16:01
The USN has always claimed this, but other accounts do have the PBY 'attacking'.
The first shot of the Pacific War, fired by the destroyer USS Ward before dawn on 7 December 1941. Ward was patrolling in an restricted zone off the entrance to Pearl Harbor when the minesweeper Condor reported that she had spotted a submarine periscope at 3:42AM. Nearly three hours later, a PBY patrol plane also sighted a periscope and marked the spot with a smoke pot. Ward came over, fired her guns at the sub and dropped depth charges, reportedly sinking it.
Don't think this particular sub is one of the ones found so far.

16th Aug 2002, 23:31
There's an interesting anecdote about the PBY that is probably an urban, or in this case a rural, legend. Chuck could probably either confirm or discount it, since it was supposed to have happened in his neck of the woods.
Back when Queen Charlotte Airlines and Canadian Pacific Airlines operated the PBY, one or the other - I forget which - used to run a sched with it from Vancouver to Prince Rupert BC. At that time there was no road into Prince Rupert, so everything came in either by air or by boat. One day, the company running the scheduled service got a call to rush a crankshaft for a Caterpillar D8 tractor to Prince Rupert. The only way they could fit the thing into the aircraft and maintain the c of g in limits, was to stow the crankshaft vertically in the tower compartment. On the approach to the harbour in Prince Rupert, they encountered some pretty wild turbulence. The crank broke lose and exited the aircraft via the hole it pounded in the hull. It is not known if it dropped into the Caterpillar dealer's garage park.:D

Capt. Crosswind
17th Aug 2002, 05:03
Thanks IME - If you think about a 20 hour sortie out of an island base in the Pacific such as Midway, a one degree error through out means you miss the base by 40nm !! Throw in any evasion tactics requiring course changes & flying in/below cloud cover & you can see those Cat Navs must have used sharp pencils on their plot. I guess in emergency you could call up for HF/DF ?

Thanks PaperTiger - Historian L Deighton credits the sinking to the PBY which was the first mention I had heard of a PBY in either books or doco's.This raises an interesting point - Condor spots a sub at 0342 & Ward starts to hunt for it ,finally sinking it at 0630 or thereabouts with the PBY's assistance . Meanwhile they must have been reporting back to Pearl & yet the fleet ( less than 10 miles from this action) remain at normal harbour routine. Looks like someone at HQ was remiss in not having the fleet closed up at action stations, at least for submarine threat ??

17th Aug 2002, 17:41
pigboat I can't find a reference to that PBY incident in Spillsbury's "Accidental Airline". Pretty sure he would have included it if it happened to QCA - he doesn't pull punches. CBCA also ran PBYs up the coast, and it does sound more like a trick Baker's outfit would pull, if not apochryphal.

Capt. Crosswind
18th Aug 2002, 10:58
PBY's role in the last major SAR operation of the Pacific War.

When the survivors of USS Indianaplois were found by good luck, four days after being torpedoed, the PBY played a major role in the rescue of survivors & directly saved 59 lives.

By chance the survivors remaining on day 4 after the sinking were found by Lt W.Gwinn flying a Ventura on AS patrol. He initially found 30 survivors & dropped what liferafts he had and radioed the situation to a disbelieving base ops.
There was no record of a ship missing.
His C.O. (VPB-152 ) Lt Cdr Attebury took of from Pelelui to relieve him and deliver more liferafts , arranging for a PBY (from VPB-23) to follow him as soon as possible.
By now more survivors had been found by Lt Gwinn, & ships & acft diverted to the area to assist.
The PBY from VPB23 flown by Lt. R.Marks arrived and dropped liferafts to survivors located by L/Cdr Atteberry. Lt Marks saw isolated survivors were being attacked by sharks & decided to attempt to land & pick them up,despite a 12 ft swell that was running & the fact that he had never made an ocean landing . The landing was heavy, rivets sprung & seams in the hull opened, the acft began taking some water but at a controllable rate.
Directed by L/Cdr Attenberry on R/T he was able to eventually pick up 58 isolated survivors before night fall as well as distribute water & emergency rations to other groups in rafts. The acft was so crowded survivors lay on the wings and were covered with parachutes for the night.
Late in the day another PBY landed from USAAC Emergency Rescue Unit at Palau Island piloted Lt R. Alcorn but he was only able to find one survivor before dark. A few hours after last light, about midnight, the USS Doyle arrived on scene & began to pick up survivors by by motor whale boat taking all survivors from Lt Marks PBY. By searchlight , air dropped parachute flares & star shells Doyle continued to pick up survivors in her whaleboat. In the course of the night more aircraft & ships arrived , by sun up there were 5 ships involved in the search & rescue of the survivors, who were spread over a large area. Before long there were eleven ships & numerous patrol craft searching the area as well as aircraft overhead spotting for the ships.
The search area was 100 nm radius from the initial survivor group.

At first light Doyle took Lt Alcorn's survivor . A rough sea & strong wind made it hazardous to consider taking off with survivors. He took off and returned after refuelling to act as a spotter for the next 5 days for the ships which had now arrived on the scene.

Lt Mark's inspected his PBY & determined it was not airworthy. The crew, & equipment that could be salvaged , were taken off by USS Doyle.
The PBY which had saved the lives of 58 of the isolated survivors was sunk by 80 rounds of 40 mm.
The search lasted 6 days and after the first day only badly decomposed bodies were found. Of the 800 sailors who abandoned ship only 316 survived.

18th Aug 2002, 23:53
PT, for the life of me I can't remember where I heard that story.

Capt. Xwind, I just bought the book "In Harm's Way" about the sinking of the Indianapolis. The picture section has a shot of Marks' aircraft and crew.

Capt. Crosswind
19th Aug 2002, 04:19
Thanks PBoat, I'll see if I can get a copy.

Do you know if Lt Marks & crew received any awards ??
They certainly deserved it.

In his book ( which I have not read yet ) Adm Morison describes the Indianapolis tragedy as " a tale of routine stupidity & unnecessary suffering ". Not the USN's finest hour I'm afraid, and once again the way the Administration & top brass ran for cover & hung the Indianapolis' Captain McVay out to dry made it even worse.
Critical intelligence was not passed on to the commander on the spot - an echo of Pearl Harbour. CINCPAC Intel knew Jap subs were on his route to Leyte,but nobody told Captain McVay.

Capt. Crosswind
28th Aug 2002, 09:04
MIDWAY - PBY in Attack Role ?

I have read an account of the Midway battle in which an unsuccessful attack was made by B-17's on the Midway Occupation Force,which was spotted by a PBY from Midway. There was no aircraft carrier in this group, it consisted of two battleships, two light cruisers, a complement of destroyers & twelve troop transport ships. The following is a quote from the account:
" The attack was subsequently renewed by four Catalinas,which succeeded in torpedoeing an oiler but without inflicting serious damage."
Is this correct ? Could the PBY launch torpedoes ?

Lu Zuckerman
28th Aug 2002, 14:53
The PBY could carry bombs, depth charges, extra fuel tanks and torpedoes. Our P-Boats operated in a peace time era and we could carry an 8-man lifeboat under the wing.


I. M. Esperto
28th Aug 2002, 15:56
Description of the action:


28th Aug 2002, 17:47
Any news ? Still stuck on that small field in France ?

Feather #3
28th Aug 2002, 23:45
Yes, still sitting quietly outside the Airport Director's office.

Hopefully, a decision in September.

G'day :(

Capt. Crosswind
29th Aug 2002, 04:48
Thanks Lu, it sure was/is a versatile aircraft.
Looking at the high aspect ratio wing you can see it has good range, considering the low wing loading there was some very astute design work done with airfoil camber to give it a good payload & still have good range.

Thanks I.M.E. , Very interesting web site, I've marked it for future refernce.

Capt. Crosswind
30th Aug 2002, 07:07
Midget Sub found
The midget sub sunk 07 Dec '41 in the Pearl Harbour approaches has been found by Hawaii Underseas Research Laboratory personnel on a submersible vehicle training dive.
As discussed previously on this topic there was some involvement of a PBY in this operation. The following is an expansion on Paper Tiger's post on this subject.
Although not mentioned in the report from USS Ward ( credited with the sinking ) the report from USS Antares which had sighted the sub at 0630 & signalled Ward , mentions that a Patrol acft dropped smoke markers on the sub's location at 0633. The Ward sped to the scene & at 0645 scored a hit on the conning tower with gunfire. Ward then depth charged the spot where it sank.
Antares reported that the patrol acft also dropped depth charges,which figures as there were three PBY's from VP14 on early morning patrol & armed with depth charges.
The sub had initially been spotted by USCG Condor a minesweeper, at 0350 & had signalled Ward of the sighting. Ward had been searching since that time & no doubt the PBY smoke markers had been of assistance in making the intercept.

Chuck Ellsworth
30th Aug 2002, 14:12
I just thought I would add another comment about the PBY to this thread.

In July of 2001 we flew a PBY in a movie for Mirimax and they had the depth charges mounted under the wings using the origional depth charge mounts and dummy depth charges made exactly as origional.

The loss of performance was very noticeable from lift off to every phase of flight. Having flown fifteen hours with these things on the wings trying to manouver the airplane at its maximum rete of turn, bank etc. I can only wonder how they flew them with such overloads of fuel and arrmament on board.

We will never really properly appreciate what these crews went through.

Cat Driver:

Lu Zuckerman
30th Aug 2002, 14:25
[QUOTE]The sub had initially been spotted by USCG Condor a minesweeper.

I won’t dispute this but to my knowledge the USCG did not operate minesweepers or any other fully combatant ships until war was officially declared and the Coast Guard was transferred from the Treasury Department to the US Navy. CG ships of that era had gun mounts but at that time they were employed in maritime patrol assignments.

Here is a list of coastal minesweepers based at Pearl harbor on 7-December 1941 along with the transfer of the ships after the war.
According to the list I got this information from they were listed as US Navy vessels. There is a possibility that the Condor was eventually manned by CG crews.

Cockatoo, AMc-8: to Maritime Commission 9-46
Condor, AMc-14: to Maritime Commission 7-46
Crossbill, AMc-9: to Maritime Commission 3-47
Reedbird, AMc-30: to Maritime Commission 11-46


pete zahut
31st Aug 2002, 17:11
PBY: Propeller leaving the engine during take-off.

About 50 years ago, an incident happened, where a propeller and the front part of the engine broke off during take off in bad weather on sea off the coast of Iceland.
The propellers blades “axed” throught the left front and side cockpit windows, inches from the nose of the captain and then onwards in the hull in front of the cockpit, cutting other 10 cuts in the hull “like a knive cutting butter” as described by the pilots who escaped miraclously, but with some injuries.
It would be interessant to hear if there are similar incidents on the PBY, where the prop, which normally was close to the cockpit came closer then acceptable.

Regards, pete

Lu Zuckerman
31st Aug 2002, 18:13
Most likely as the aircraft ploughed through the water on takeoff the prop hit a wave. This has happened several times on PBYs as well as PBMs. A Coast guard PBM was lost during the Korean conflict when a Chinese ship which was in support of North Korea sent a few shells towards the PBM as it was taking off and one of the props hit a geyser from an exploding shell tearing off not only the prop but the entire engine.


31st Aug 2002, 18:27
Capt. x-wind, here's the web address of HURL. Go take a look at the midget sub, they've got some stills and videos of the thing.
I found no mention if the sub was discovered initially by a PBY. Also, in the book about the Indy, there's no mention (so far) whether or not Lt. Adrian Marks and his crew recieved any decorations for their efforts. I'm guessing that they did.

The open sea landing sprung a few seams and popped enough rivets that the aircraft was leaking at the rate of "ten to twelve buckets per hour," which would make it about twenty - twenty five gallons per hour. The crew started bailing immediately. The book also states that just before dark another PBY flown by Lt. Richard Alcorn also landed to pick up survivors. Unfortunately, he landed too far afield from most survivors, and only picked up one. He must have stayed on the water overnight, for the book states "..that he could be of use by operating his plane's lights as beacons to guide circling aircraft and rescue ships to the scene."
It also states, "He (Alcorn) would spend a total of more than fifty-one hours in the area, returning to Peleliu only to refuel."

Pete, I seem to remember an accident where a PBY shed a prop on a water landing once. I think it happened on the west coast, however I could be wrong abot that. I know of one DC-3 accident where a prop went through the cockpit and killed the guy in the jump seat.
(Chuck, that was Northern Wings - Moose was the Captain)

Capt. Crosswind
1st Sep 2002, 08:34
Thanks for your comment Lou, the info I have on this action I obtained from archives and is copied below.

Extract from the Report by CINCPAC to the Secretary of the Navy 15 Feb 1942
"The first enemy contact of 7 December, 1941, is believed to have been made at 0350, when the U.S.C.G. Condor sighted the periscope of a submerged submarine. At that time the Condor was conducting sweeping operations approximately one and three-fourths miles southwest of the Pearl Harbor entrance buoys."

It is generally assumed that this is the submarine sunk by Ward at 0640, but I wonder if it could be
* the submarine engaged by USS Helm at 0817?
* the submarine hit by gunfire by USS Curtiss & USS Tangier at 0837, then rammed & depth charged by USS Monaghan at 0843 ?

Hollywood versions of the attack give a false picture of an off guard USN having made no preparation for an imminent war with Japan.
This is not the case when you look into the facts. The harbour approaches were being actively patrolled and as well PBY's armed with depth charges were on patrol in coastal waters.
The majority of anti aircraft weapons were in action within 5 minutes ,the heavy calibre machine guns were in action in very short time & 2 attacking aircraft were shot down in the first wave.
The fact that USS Ward instantly attacked the sub without reference back to CINCPAC shows that the Rules of Engagement were at a war footing.
PBY's were on patrol out of Midway as well as the Aleutions. The only criticism one can make in this regard is that there were no long range PBY patrols out of Hawaii. The only excuse I have ever seen in this regard is "there were not enough aircraft to give complete coverage." There were in fact 30 plus PBY's & the operation out of Midway, plus coverage from 200 nm to the WSW by Task force 8 would have filled in a lot of the area to be patrolled.

P/Boat ,thanks for the info, much appreciated. I have some more info on the PBY & midget sub to track down.

I. M. Esperto
1st Sep 2002, 12:24
Regarding the US preparation for war with Japan, read this:


1st Sep 2002, 15:24
Received word that a well-known UK Catalina operater has bought C-FNJF. This is one of the two which have languished at Cassidy B.C. for the past five years after the collapse of the African safari project.

A team will be coming over to get it airworthy for the ferry flight. It will be restored in the UK to full transport category CofA. Hope more details will be forthcoming - I'd sure like to see some air under its wings again.

I. M. Esperto
1st Sep 2002, 15:59
I seem to recall that some sort of celebrity type made a flying houseboat/motorhome of a PBY, and it was gorgeous. Jacque Cousteu, perhaps?

Chuck Ellsworth
1st Sep 2002, 16:19
Paper Tiger:

Any idea on when they plan to ferry it? winter is fast approaching in the northern hemisphere.

Cat Driver:

1st Sep 2002, 16:48

I don't think there's any harm in identifying the purchasers as Plane Sailing. My correspondent quotes from a 'press release' but unfortunately didn't give a source or URL. Nothing on their website which doesn't seem to have ever been updated !

If they want it to be ready for next season in the UK (~April 2003), I would think its departure is imminent. There's a lot of work to be done.

Chuck Ellsworth
1st Sep 2002, 19:00
Paper Tiger:


Yes it is Plain Sailing they have been dealing on these two airplanes for over a year.

As far as work on it goes, yes there will be a lot needed.

I ferried that airplane to Nanaimo about four years ago and then flew it for a photo shoot, they were both in very good condition at that time except for minor snags you will run into with any airplane.

However as I understand it they are planning on removing the engines to be opened and checked for condition, that of course is a time consuming job. By the time you remove, ship, open and reassemble the engines then ship and reinstall them there goes any hope of a ferry flight this year. Unless they spend a fortune to fly via S. America, Africa and up to the U.K.

Also the props will have to be re-certified, it all takes lots of time.

I still have not ferried the U.S. registered PBY from N. Weald to Virginia Beach Va, due to unforseen problems, and the longer we wait the slimmer the time frame to ferry it before winter ensures we can't. I was in London for a couple of weeks to install a new engine and re- do the props as they were calander timed out, I returned home about two weeks ago due to the delay in getting parts etc....... and on and on and onn....

These airplanes have no anti / de icing of any sort plus no heat for the crew. Another absolute guarantee you will not be able to ferry them is there are no fuel dilution systems in them so once the temperature gets in or below the freezing range trying to start them without pre heat is very, very risky.

I sure would not like to get the airplane stuck in Iceland or Greenland for the winter, the cost would really be something.

Oh well time will tell what happens.

Cat Driver:

1st Sep 2002, 20:08
Pulling the engines certainly seems prudent, since I don't think they have run since you shut them down. I think I would have done that before signing the cheque though.

I assumed most of the work would be done at Duxford after the ferry, but I suppose some (most ?) could be done at YCD. The UK CAA may take a dim view however.

As you say, we'll see. I'll pass on your comments.

Chuck Ellsworth
1st Sep 2002, 20:33
Hey Paper Tiger:

I don't want to get to far into the politics of these airplanes, however can you e-mail me and we can chat?

[email protected]

Cat Driver:

Capt. Crosswind
3rd Sep 2002, 06:44
IME I recall a doco I saw about 10 years ago in which J.Cousteu
fitted out a Cat for an expedition which I think was in the Red Sea?
Thanks for the web site , that book is a must have for the serious scholar of WWII - a good intro to this theory is in a book I read
called "Infamy- Pearl Harbour & its Aftermath" by John Toland
ISBN 0413 49820 4

In his work, historian Deighton does not subscribe to this conspiracy theory but his work was pre FOI making a lot of new details available.
I had always believed that where governments are concerned, if you have to decide between a well managed conspiracy and a screw up, always bet on the screw up. But I had to change my ideas after reading Toland's book, the evidence is overwhelming.

Capt. Crosswind
4th Sep 2002, 01:58
Pearl Harbour Attack - PBY/Midget Sub

At 0740 the Patwing TWO Ops Officer advised CINCPAC that a Patrol Aircraft had depth charged & sunk a submarine south of the Pearl Harbour entrance.

In his Dec 20 report to CINCPAC, Commander Patrol Wing TWO states that at 0700 a VP14 aircraft had sunk a submarine by depth charge.
This does not tie in with the PBY smoke pot marking the sub at 0633 & the attack by USS Ward. This could be another submarine of the five that were involved in the attack.

So was historian L. Deighton correct in crediting a PBY with a sub kill?

Capt. Crosswind
8th Sep 2002, 08:21
Catalina Raids on Rabaul (1942-43)

RAAF 11 Sqn & 20 Sqn operated Catalina's in the New Guinea area from various bases,mainly out of Port Moresby until Japanese bomber raids made it too dangerous to base there,whereupon they moved to the Australian mainland, near Townsville.
As well as their long range recce role they were tasked to carry out night bombing raids on various Jap held bases mainly Rabaul , the major enemy base in the region. When B-17's arrived in the theatre the Cat pilots flew on these missions to give the B17 crews the benefit of their "local" knowledge. At the same time the Cat night raids were continued, well into '43.
The following is an extract from the RAAF historian Douglas Gillison's work on this period,describing one such raid 24 Feb 1942.

" Flying Officer Bolitho & his crew had a close call when an engine failure forced the flying boat down to 200 feet & was only saved by jettisoning the bomb load.*

On the following night,also over Rabaul, Sqn Ldr Cohen used his aircraft virtually as a dive bomber** releasing 12 bombs from 1,300 feet as he dived on Toboi wharf where a ship was berthed. eight of the bombs straddled the target."

* Chuck, like you said not much performance left when fully armed.
** lunkenheimer - you were right.

Capt. Crosswind
11th Sep 2002, 09:11
PBY/Catalina WWII

Well fellas I've runout of leads for PBY stories - if nothing else this forum has shown that the PBY was an incredibly well designed aircraft for its role, ranking equally with the DC3/C47 in this respect. In my mind the most versastile aircraft of WWII. Capable of many roles, long range recce,anti submarine warfare,bomber,scout/attack (Black Cat Sqns), torpedo bomber (Midway), long range courier ( Perth - Columbo flights), & SAR.

A couple of corrections to previous posts:

1) Pre Dec 07 1941 the number of PBY's at Hawaii was 81,but only 30 plus were serviceable at any one time, a mission reliability figure I find difficult to believe. Perhaps those more knowledgeable on this subject may care to comment?

2) It is more likely that the sub kill claimed by PatWing Two was the sub sunk by USS Ward. Incidentally, when that same PBY marked the sub with smoke pots he thought it was a SAR operation & the sub was a USN sub in difficulty. The finding of the sub a few weeks ago clearly shows it was Ward's kill Ward may also have sunk a second sub later that morning.

3) There were PBY patrols out that morning,unfortunately in the South West sector.

Chuck Ellsworth
12th Sep 2002, 00:01
Capt X/W:

Actually the PBY might be classed above the DC3 due to its versatility.

I prefeer the PBY to the DC3 for many reasons, then that is only my preference.

Cat Driver:

Capt. Crosswind
12th Sep 2002, 10:23
When you put versatility into the equation you're right in saying the PBY wins by a country mile.
I reckon the PBY design team should have received a medal for their contribution to the war effort.

You may be aware Australia has a problem patrolling our Northern approaches for illegal immigrants.
Discussing the best acft for this task with a couple of colleagues last night we "speced" up the ideal acft with the endurance, a good loiter speed & with a sea landing capability.
The Cat is the obvious choice. We need a squadron.

Lu Zuckerman
12th Sep 2002, 14:02
When I was in Flight Engineers/Mechanics School our instructor told us never to put the mixture in auto lean below five hundred feet. If the pilot requested it they told us to flick the switch indicating to the pilot that we were in auto lean and then monitor the fuel consumption rate to maintain adequate fuel for the flight.

On this particular flight we were about 200 feet ASL when an exhaust valve on the left engine did not open resulting in the top of the jug being blown off. Luckily I was following the instructors’ advice and the mixture was in auto rich. The engine almost ripped from the mounts and in the next two seconds I had placed the cross feed in the open position and I was operating the wobble pumps. The engine stabilized and the MAP and RPM held steady as if nothing had happened.

When we got on the ground and opened the cowl we found the busted jug. We requested that we be allowed to change the engine but the district office refused our request. We ended up doing a top overhaul on the effected cylinder replacing the jug and the piston. We were afraid the articulating rod or its bearings had been damaged and we again requested an engine change and again it was refused. After doing a 6-hour green run on the new cylinder we went for a test flight. The Navy tower indicated that we were blowing a lot of smoke thinking we were on fire. We returned and checked everything. When we went back on the runway the tower again indicated that we were trailing smoke. We returned and performed a cold cylinder check with no negative indications. Once again we requested an engine change and once again it was refused. This time the chief told me to pull the oil filter and bring it to him. He took the filter to the Navy machine shop and rolled it in the bed of a lathe. There were curly cue chips as well as other forms of chips on the filter. The chief had a picture taken of the filter and sent it to the district office. They authorized the engine change.

We pulled the P-Boat into the Hanger and I removed the cowling. I started to make the various disconnects at the firewall and the chief stopped me asking what I was doing. I told him and he told me that the proper way to pull an engine was to make the disconnects at the Dynafocal mounts. This required the removal of the carburetor and several other accessories. The Navy mechanics watched us in total disbelief as we labored to follow the chiefs' orders. It took almost three days to pull and replace the engine when it would normally take one day or less.


Lu Zuckerman
23rd Sep 2002, 16:37
For information:

P.O. BOX 26460

U.S. Department
of Transportation
Federal Aviation

No. ANM-99-31
July 12, 1999

SAIB’s are posted on the internet at http://av-info.faa.gov
This is issued for informational purposes only and any recommendation for corrective action is not mandatory.


The purpose of this Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) is to inform registered owners/operators of Consolidated-Vultee 28-5ACF, PBY-5, PBY-5A, Army OA-10, OA-10A, RCAF PBY-5A and RCAF 28-5AMC aircraft of the failure of a nose gear bay door torque tube. PBY-6A aircraft may also be affected.


The United Kingdom Aircraft Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) sent a safety recommendation report to FAA based on their investigation of an accident of a Consolidated Vultee Model 28-5ACF aircraft. The aircraft had been on the water for several seconds during a touch and go landing. AAIB found that the left hand nose gear bay door torque tube failed allowing dynamic water pressure loads to collapse the nose gear bay doors and directly impact the nose gear bay aft bulkhead and roof bulkhead resulting in failure of both bulkheads. The aircraft yawed violently to the left, filled with water and decelerated rapidly. During the evacuation of 14 passengers and 4 crew the aircraft pitched forward trapping two passengers resulting in their death by drowning.

The failure of the left torque tube appeared to be the result of severe corrosion of the internal surface of the tube due to the presence of water over a long period of time. The ends of the tube were closed off by the insertion of two cork-like plugs (bungs). The location of the corrosion within the tube was consistent with the attitude of the aircraft in the parked position, i.e. doors open, gear down.


Based on the AAIB recommendations, the FAA is recommending that owners/operators of Consolidated Vultee 28-5ACF, PBY-5, PBY-5A, Army OA-10, OA-10A, RCAF PBY-5A, RCAF 28-5AMC aircraft (and PBY-6A because of their similarity), accomplish the following as soon as possible:

a) Perform a detailed visual inspection of the right and left-hand nose gear bay door torque tubes, (both tubes have the same Part Number 28B4028) externally and internally.

b) Permanently remove any plugs or bungs installed in the torque tubes. Inspect torque tubes in accordance with paragraph a).

Note: The Illustrated Parts Catalog, AN 01-5M-4 does not show any plug in the torque tube. Removal of the plug will allow water or condensation to drain or evaporate.

c) Repair or replace any corroded parts in accordance with Advisory Circular AC 43.13-1B.

d) The AAIB report also recommended publication of specific rigging instructions for the nose gear bay doors. At this time FAA does not have access to any such instructions and is hereby asking for owners/operators for their support. Please send your recommendations for these rigging instructions within 60 days of the date of this SAIB to Maurice P. Cook, Senior Engineer,
Airframe Branch, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Blvd.,
Lakewood, CA 90712-4137, telephone: (562) 627-5230; fax: (562) 627-5210; or email: [email protected].

e) Incorporate the inspection requirements of paragraph a) and rigging instructions for the nose gear bay doors into the FAA Approved Aircraft Inspection Program (AAIP). Inspections should be accomplished annually or earlier depending on the environment of aircraft operations.

For Further Information Contact:

Mr. Maurice P. Cook, Senior Engineer, Airframe Branch, Los Angeles Aircraft Certification Office, 3960 Paramount Blvd., Lakewood, CA 90712-4137, telephone: (562) 627-5230; fax:
(562) 627-5210; or email: [email protected].

Capt. Crosswind
26th Sep 2002, 09:00
An addition to my post of 11 Sept.
PBY roles in WWII -
I left out one of the roles performed by the Cat - Minelayer.

A number of Cat firsts were listed on this forum - there is also a
WWII "last".
On 7 May 1945 a Catalina made the last U-Boat sinking of the war.

henry crun
26th Sep 2002, 10:15
I have just finished the memoirs of Brigadier Kippenberger.

He mentions returning to the Italian front after leave in New Zealand and had " the most tiresome hop of 28 hours in a Catalina from Perth to Ceylon".

30th Sep 2002, 01:33
i had the pleasure of many hours flying around the carribean sea in a pby. it was operated by antilles airboats out of st thomas, they had two, and i was the flight steward for a while.
we flew about six legs a day inter island. my dad was one of the pilots.

we were not allowed to carry pax in the blisters so i had that cabin to myself most of the time.

i remember sitting back reading a book on a nice sunny day and it started to go dark gradually, i looked up to see a large ammount of oil over the port blister. i tried not to rush through the passenger cabin and upset the pax to alert the captain but some of them noticed my haste. we flew on to st croix and made an uneventful landing.

that particular aircraft was purchased by cousteau for one of his expeditions but unfortunately it looped on the water when a float dug in and the young cousteau, the pilot, was killed.

another cat i had memories of was frigate bird two. it was famous for the pioneering flights it made across the pacific from australia to south america (chile) and easter island. captained by sir gordon (pg) taylor she made the first ever crossing of the south pacific to chile.

frigate bird three was parked in the ansett flying boat base hangar at rose bay in sydney harbour for many years. as kids we used to play in the hull. it is now shown with pride in the power house museum in sydney.:)

Chuck Ellsworth
30th Sep 2002, 01:42
PBY Update:

Two of us removed the engines last week from the Cat that was sold to Plain Sailing and they are now at Aero Recip for inspection.

N9521C will remain at North Weald and we will ferry it to Virginia in the spring, the lack of one part really screwed us for time.

Cat Driver:

2nd Oct 2002, 07:14
Interesting statement about the C-46 as I flew the airplane while on contract in Alaska several years ago. The aircraft was configurated for bulk fuel with fixed internal tanks in the cabin. I found the aircraft very "pilot friendly" or as friendly as can be expected for the era it was designed in.

While taking off from Palmer Alaska with a full load of bulk fuel as cargo and about a 48K GTOW, we experienced a partial power loss on the number 2 engine. Remember it was bouncing around quite a bit on the mount producing about 50% power. Mag problem if I remember riight. Flew pretty good and landed without incident.

Company also operated PBY and DC-3, all of which I flew. Most impressive was the C-46 which basically carried its own empty weight in payload. That performance greatly out did the DC-3.