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PBY's

Old 7th Jun 2002, 04:14
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Question PBY war stories

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 Iíll tell you mine.


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Old 7th Jun 2002, 04:54
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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
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Old 7th Jun 2002, 16:27
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Question I shot an arrow into the sky......

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 Ĺ 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 1Ē in diameter and about 2 Ĺ 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.

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Old 8th Jun 2002, 02:46
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Talking

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.
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Old 12th Jun 2002, 03:44
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Catalina

Lu,
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??
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Old 12th Jun 2002, 19:35
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Crystal Ball

To: Capt. Crosswind

Itís 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?

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Old 13th Jun 2002, 08:06
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PBY Catalina

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.

Last edited by Capt. Crosswind; 13th Jun 2002 at 08:10.
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Old 13th Jun 2002, 13:31
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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!
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Old 15th Jun 2002, 00:56
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Who can you trust?

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.

Last edited by Lu Zuckerman; 15th Jun 2002 at 01:01.
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Old 16th Jun 2002, 03:15
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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:

......................
The hardest thing about flying is knowing when to say no.
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Old 16th Jun 2002, 03:30
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Talking

Stop in and pick up that model of 'NJB on the way by.
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Old 16th Jun 2002, 15:44
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PBY patrols used successfully in Midway

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.
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Old 17th Jun 2002, 02:27
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Wink

Chuck,

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

G'day

Last edited by Feather #3; 17th Jun 2002 at 02:32.
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Old 17th Jun 2002, 03:45
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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.

Hi again pigboat:

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

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

Last edited by Chuck Ellsworth; 17th Jun 2002 at 03:49.
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Old 17th Jun 2002, 05:21
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PBY Catalina

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.

Last edited by Capt. Crosswind; 17th Jun 2002 at 05:28.
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Old 19th Jun 2002, 03:24
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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.
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Old 20th Jun 2002, 19:30
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catalinas

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.
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Old 21st Jun 2002, 02:16
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PBY Catalina

Pigboat

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 ?
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Old 21st Jun 2002, 22:48
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Double Sunrise flights

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
Tracey
H.A.R.S., Sydney, Australia
( Owners of PBY-6A, VH-PBZ )
 
Old 22nd Jun 2002, 01:41
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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

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