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Consolidated PBY Catalina Flying Boat

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PBY Catalina Patrol Bomber - Locating the Bismark and Japanese Fleet

PBY Catalina - WWII American flying boat.

U.S. National Archives photo.

Catalina Patrol Bombers played key roles in locating the German battleship Bismark in May of 1941, the Japanese fleet approaching Midway Island in June of 1942, and the Japanese fleet approaching Ceylon in April of 1942.

Black Cat Catalinas

In addition to routine daytime patrols, Black Cat Catalinas were painted black, armed with bombs and used magnetic anomaly detectors to attack Japanese shipping at night.

Catalina Rescue Mission

The most famous Catalina rescue mission was by a Catalina piloted by Lieutenant R. Adrian Marks. Marks disobeyed standing orders when he risked landing his Catalina in high seas to rescue members of the US Navy cruiser Indianapolis who had been in the ocean for five days and were dying of exposure, dehydration and shark attacks.

The landing damaged the hull which slowly took on water faster than the crew could bail it out. Nevertheless, Marks and crew picked up 56 sailors, using parachutes to tie about twenty survivors to the main wing after the plane was packed full of people. All of the rescued crew were transferred to Navy ships which arrived the next day.

Number built

Approximately 4,050 Catalinas were built.

Museum Mustangs on our website

PBY-5 Catalina - Palm springs Air Museum


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* PBY Catalina facts

Category Flying boat - patrol bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Introduced October 1936
Used in
US Navy
US Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Produced 1936-1945
Number built Approximately 4,051
Cruising speed 130 mph
Max. speed 7,500 mph
Altitude 18,200 feet service ceiling
Range 3,100 miles
* Numbers are approximate