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PBY Catalina

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  • PBY Catalina

    When I was a kid growing up in Alaska, we used to fly on these great old planes. Sitka didn't have a runway for Jets until 1966. All we had was a small concrete ramp and turnaround- just a concrete circle on the beach, and the PBY's would land in the channel and taxi to the turnaround to embark/disembark passengers and freight. Then they would drive around this little circle and back down the ramp to takeoff from the water.

    Alaska Coastal- Ellis Airways opertated 5 Catalinas in Southeast, and they would fly passengers to Ketchican to transfer to 707's or 727's for the trip to Seattle. CA-EA put seats in the gun blisters of their Catalinas, and these were the best seats in the plane. I remember sitting in them as a little kid with my head sticking out- what a fantastic view! You felt like you were sitting outside the plane. Occasionally a piece of ice would fly off the wing and hit the plexiglass right above your head- it was pretty startling, and always made you duck! Landings were exciting, as you watched the water come up at you, and the bubble would be enveloped in spray as the plane touched down. I think that sitting in the bubbles of those planes as a kid is what gave me my lifelong love of flying.

    This picture is one of the CA-EA Catalinas, N4760C, taxiing in the Sitka Channel in the early 60's. Mt Edgecombe is in the background, and the wingtip floats have not been lowered yet, but you can see by the wake that the maingear is down.

    This was the only Catalina that CA-EA operated that had the gun blisters removed, and is now at Mchord AFB being restored for static display. One crashed in a lake near Juneau in 1965, and is still there today. The only casualty was a male flight attendant who was in the back with a load of lumber. The rest of the planes were sold off, I think they ended up in the Caribbean.

    One other interesting thing about the CA-EA Catalinas- the main gear was modified so that the pilot could raise and lower the wheels individually to assist in steering when the plane was taxiing in the water.

    I still love these great old planes, and consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to fly in them. They were bumpy and noisy, completely utilitarian, and not particularly fast, but always exciting.
    Attached Files
    "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

  • #2
    I saw a show on the Black Cats night attack PBY sqn about a month ago.

    Their exploits were UNbelievable when you consider what they were flying.

    Brave dudes, damned fine aircraft.

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    • #3
      These are the same creatures as the PBY "Strawberry" recon aircraft used during the battle of Midway,, correct?

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      • #4
        Yep. One and the same. :)
        "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

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        • #5
          The "Black Widow" PBYs had a fixed fwd firing Quad .50 cal nose mount to go along with the twin .30cal pintle mount that other PBYs had.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by M21Sniper
            The "Black Widow" PBYs had a fixed fwd firing Quad .50 cal nose mount to go along with the twin .30cal pintle mount that other PBYs had.
            Interesting,, I never realized they were armed.

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            • #7
              Yep.

              The black widow PBYs also carried bombs, rockets, and even torpedos.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by M21Sniper
                Yep.

                The black widow PBYs also carried bombs, rockets, and even torpedos.
                wicked!

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                • #9
                  Here's a couple more pictures, the first is an artwork of a Black Cat PBY, the second is a photo from WW2, the third is a recent picture of a restored Catalina.

                  Almost all of the PBY's that were put in civilian service had the nose faired where the nose gunner originally sat, but most of them retained the characteristic gun blisters in the sides.
                  Attached Files
                  "We will go through our federal budget – page by page, line by line – eliminating those programs we don’t need, and insisting that those we do operate in a sensible cost-effective way." -President Barack Obama 11/25/2008

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                  • #10
                    Nice, I'm jealous of you that you had a chance to be around them..
                    In the realm of spirit, seek clarity; in the material world, seek utility.

                    Leibniz

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