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WW2 RAF Pensacola USA Training

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WW2 RAF Pensacola USA Training

Old 5th Jun 2020, 22:21
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WW2 RAF Pensacola USA Training

I am researching and writing about a late friend of mine who, in 1943 - 1944, went to the Pensacola Naval Base and did flight training on the Catalina flying boat and subsequently flew Catalina's in the middle east in the last years of the war.
Can anyone tell me anything about Catalina flight training; I have contacted the Pensacola Naval Base archives but they cannot help.
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 07:38
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Originally Posted by RogerRB
I am researching and writing about a late friend of mine who, in 1943 - 1944, went to the Pensacola Naval Base and did flight training on the Catalina flying boat and subsequently flew Catalina's in the middle east in the last years of the war.
Can anyone tell me anything about Catalina flight training; I have contacted the Pensacola Naval Base archives but they cannot help.
​​​​​​My father also went to Pensacola. All of his training was on the PBY5a, the flying boat (without wheels) , not the b which was amphibious and he never flew. As far as I am aware there is only one complete 'a' in existence, it is in the museum at Pensacola and in my father's log book. It was spooky to stand near the only example and the actual aircraft my father flew. Pensacola is quite a set up.
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 08:05
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Sorry to have to interrupt, but the PBY-5A WAS the amphibian version of the Catalina, and in fact many PBY-5A's still survive today precisely BECAUSE they were amphibious, that is they did not have to alight on the sea or a lake if a "land" airfield was available in the vicinity. Operating aircraft off water (salt or fresh) always seems to have been more hazardous than using an airfield (for various reasons), and operating off salt water usually guarantees a shorter life for any aircraft made of metal, or containing metal parts. A good way of obtaining an idea of how pilots were trained to fly this type of aircraft (and broadly applicable to many other larger-sized flying boats) would be to obtain a copy of the RAF Pilots' notes for the type (or an equivalent US Navy booklet). Perhaps other forumites might like to suggest where such publications might be obtained for a reasonable price.
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 08:19
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My father also went to Pensacola though he ended up flying Halifaxs on a Met. Reconnaissance Squadron. I believe that after the war there were a few reunions and I believe that this gathering is one of them. It is an old picture that has been rolled up for decades so there are a few lines. Maybe somebody can recognise somebody.


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Old 6th Jun 2020, 09:21
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Originally Posted by dduxbury310
Sorry to have to interrupt, but the PBY-5A WAS the amphibian version of the Catalina, and in fact many PBY-5A's still survive today precisely BECAUSE they were amphibious, that is they did not have to alight on the sea or a lake if a "land" airfield was available in the vicinity. Operating aircraft off water (salt or fresh) always seems to have been more hazardous than using an airfield (for various reasons), and operating off salt water usually guarantees a shorter life for any aircraft made of metal, or containing meta partsl. A good way of obtaining an idea of how pilots were trained to fly this type of aircraft (and broadly applicable to many other larger-sized flying boats) would be to obtain a copy of the RAF Pilots' notes for the type (or an equivalent US Navy booklet). Perhaps other forumites might like to suggest where such publications might be obtained for a reasonable price.
David D
You are of course correct it was the PBY5 that is should have been referring to as non-amphibious.

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Old 6th Jun 2020, 11:04
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ISBN: 10 0 646 19079 2
ISBN: 13 9780646190792

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Old 6th Jun 2020, 11:28
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I have found a photo of an earlier reunion. It was taken with a wide angle lens so I have to load it in two bits so there may be a couple of twins.

Edited to add Sidevalve has shot a couple of the twins so that they are in one picture..




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Old 6th Jun 2020, 13:05
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My Maternal Uncle trained at Pensacola as part of the 'Towers Scheme', having done BFTS at Grosse Ile near Detroit. At Pensacola he flew both the PBY-5 and the PBY-5A.

The non-amphibians were flown out of Perido Bay to the west of Pensacola itself. If you look on Google maps you can see the remains of the beaching area (it's now a car park and part of the Blue Angel Recreation Park, Battleship Row). Just to the east you can see the remains of the original NAS Pensacola from where the 5As operated.

My uncle told me that with the non-amphibians, they would taxy in towards the beach, then the groundcrew would attach the external beaching gear such that the aircraft could now taxy out of the water. Unsurpisngly the guys going into the water were all black.
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 15:45
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Perhaps other forumites might like to suggest where such publications might be obtained for a reasonable price.
Being ex- Coastal I have always been interested in flying boats, and the Catalina in particular. I even fly a radio control model of one. (R.A.F. markings of course) .

I was able to buy a facsimile copy of Pilots notes at the flying boat museum at Pembroke Dock a few years ago. They may be able to post you a copy, and the South American river also has them. A fascinating read
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 16:14
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Originally Posted by ExAscoteer2
My Maternal Uncle trained at Pensacola as part of the 'Towers Scheme', having done BFTS at Grosse Ile near Detroit. At Pensacola he flew both the PBY-5 and the PBY-5A.

The non-amphibians were flown out of Perido Bay to the west of Pensacola itself. If you look on Google maps you can see the remains of the beaching area (it's now a car park and part of the Blue Angel Recreation Park, Battleship Row). Just to the east you can see the remains of the original NAS Pensacola from where the 5As operated.

My uncle told me that with the non-amphibians, they would taxy in towards the beach, then the groundcrew would attach the external beaching gear such that the aircraft could now taxy out of the water. Unsurpisngly the guys going into the water were all black.
My father also trained at Gross Iles
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 17:57
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My uncle told me that with the non-amphibians, they would taxy in towards the beach, then the groundcrew would attach the external beaching gear such that the aircraft could now taxy out of the water. Unsurprisingly the guys going into the water were all black.
I have seen many photographs and videos of seaplane beaching gear crews, but never noticed any black sailors doing the work. Were the all black beaching crews unique to Pensacola?

Cheers,
Grog
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Old 6th Jun 2020, 18:10
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I have no idea I'm afraid, that was his recollection.

Being from UK my Uncle was somewhat shocked by the segregation of the time in the USA, and I think it stuck in his memory.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 00:25
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oxenos, I want one of those!

- Ed
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 02:44
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PBY manuals here.

https://pbycatalina.com/pby-catalina-canso-manuals/

When we went through Pensacola in '67 a PBY fuselage with the skin removed on the starboard side sat in the survival school classroom, room perhaps previously served as a PBY transition I guess.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 04:53
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Originally Posted by oxenos
Being ex- Coastal I have always been interested in flying boats, and the Catalina in particular. I even fly a radio control model of one. (R.A.F. markings of course) .American river also has them. A fascinating read
The PBY has been one of my favorite aircraft ever since I can remember. When I was 5 or 6 years old and living in Miami, Florida (USA), the "Black Cats" out of Key West, would frequently be seen flying over. At eight years of age, I even got to sit in the cockpit of a PBY during an airshow at the old Opa Locka Marine Corps Air Base, circa 1952.

I have a radio controlled PBY which I fly from the lake behind my house. It's not large (54 inch wing span) and is powered by two electric motors; however, it is a delight to fly and handles like a trainer.

Cheers,
Grog
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 13:10
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oxenos, I want one of those!
Funny you should say that as I am selling one (No, I am not advertising - the postage to Ohio would be excessive) I bought two, to use one for spares, but it has proved tough as old boots, and any repairs needed are easy. I suspect capngrog has the same model, made by Dyn**, and easily available in the States. As sold, the floats are fixed in the down position, but there is a whole website devoted to this one kit, and on it I found a way to fit retracts. Mine also drops little (inert) depth charges. I have not flown it off water - with a more powerful battery it takes off from grass, and the bottom of the hull is reinforced for grass T/O and landing. With the bigger battery, retracts, depth charge mod and paint job, mine is rather heavier than standard, so the handling is not quite trainer like, but it looks superb in the air.
Apologies for thread drift.
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 15:46
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Originally Posted by megan
PBY manuals here.

https://pbycatalina.com/pby-catalina-canso-manuals/

When we went through Pensacola in '67 a PBY fuselage with the skin removed on the starboard side sat in the survival school classroom, room perhaps previously served as a PBY transition I guess.
It is now in the museum. It was a PBY5
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 16:00
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RogerRB,
If you have not had any success in finding what you need, here are my suggestions for possible contacts and sources:
!) RAF Museum Archive. If you do not have your friend's logbook from Pensacola, there may be some logs that would help you in the Museum's collection. From my experience there, the archive may be able to search their logbook holdings using the search term "Pensacola" to find suitable examples. An appointment for a visit may be necessary.
2) Fleet Air Arm Museum Archive. I have no experience of their archive - but RAF training at Grosse Ille and Pensacola, etc., came under the "Towers Scheme" and was funded via the U.S. Navy. The F.A.A. were major beneficiary of the Towers Scheme and may have useful holdings - Course lists, etc.
3) The Catalina Society - operators of the Duxford based G-APBYA. The editor of society's newsletter & website is a great source of Catalina information and may know something of the Pensacola training programme..
4) "British Naval Aviation in World War II." by Gilbert S. Guinn & G.H. Bennett. A very good book on the "Towers Scheme" overall.. There are several pages relating to flying boat training at Pensacola.
5) You will find there is an address of a British Pensacola Veterans at British Veterans Organizations
I am not sure if this society still functions - many such veterans associations have now disbanded due to the age of the membership. Their resources may be in the hands of one of the descendants or may have been lodged with such as the RAF Museum.
Hope this helps, M-62A3
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 17:08
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PBY-5 and -5A Manuals can be read here, but downloading requires registration and a payment :-

https://www.avialogs.com/search-resu...s&word=UEJZLTU

We had a USAF War Studies Instructor at Cranwell at the start of the 60's. He said that the PBY took-off at 90, flew at 90, and alighted at 90. Methinks he may be outed by close study of these manuals as having been somewhat economical with the truth...
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Old 7th Jun 2020, 22:30
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We had a USAF War Studies Instructor at Cranwell at the start of the 60's. He said that the PBY took-off at 90, flew at 90, and alighted at 90. Methinks he may be outed by close study of these manuals as having been somewhat economical with the truth..
I had heard the same figures, perhaps from the same Instructor. Having got a copy of the R.A.F Pilots notes (see post 9) , his figures were not far out. Eased off the water at 60-65 kts, but then the nose was lowered to accelerate to 85 kts - best climb speed, and above safety speed of 80 kts. Graph shows range speed as 96 kts when heavy, reducing to 88 when light, but text recommends 90 to 92 kts.
Graph suggests endurance speed at all weights of below 80 kts, but text says "lowest speed at which the aircraft can be comfortably flown; at light loads this will be about 80 knots I.A.S."
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