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Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer - US Navy

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PB4Y-2 Privateer Long-Range Bomber & Reconnaissance

U.S. Navy PBY4 Privateer - WWII American bomber

Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer in flight. 1943. US Navy photo.

During World War II the Navy had successfully used the B-24 Liberator for U-boat and anti-shipping patrols, but eventually requested a naval version. This resulted in a long-range oversea bomber with a longer body, and single tail called the PBY4-2 Privateer. These aircraft came into action towards the end of World War II and served in the Philippines and the Marianas in 1945.

PBK4Y in flight with "Bat" glide bombs under both wngs

Bat guided bomb can be seen under the wings of a PB4Y-2. U.S. Navy photo.

Privateer Armament

The Privateer was designed for a crew of eleven, including a pilot and co-pilot, navigator, bombardier, five gunners and two radio operators. Its armament included 12 M2 Browning machine guns, and up to 12,800 pounds of bombs, mines, or torpedoes.

Bat Radar Homing Missile

By 1942, a radar homing missile was under development by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance that could be launched from aircraft to attack German submarines operating off the U.S. East Coast and tests had proved the missile to be effective. [Interestingly, the PB4Y-2 was one of the first aircraft to carry the radar controlled missile.]

"Bat" glide bomb mounted under wing of PB4Y Privateer

Close up showing Bat guided bomb. US Navy photo.

This self-seeking glide bomb was called the Bat and was tested in combat in operations near Japan by three PB4Y Privateer patrol squadrons early in 1945, according to Rear Admiral Delmar S. Fahrney, U.S. Navy (Retired) in The birth of Guided Missile”, Proceedings, 1980 (p60).

Each weighing 1,000 pounds, one Bat could be carried under each wing of the aircraft and released 15 to 20 miles from its target. The Bat was the first self-guided bomb used during WWII and reportedly was responsible for sinking several Japanese ships.

PB4Y-2 in use to 2002

The PB4Y-2 was used by the U.S. Coast Guard until 1958, and several others were converted to firefighting duty in the Western US until 2002.

Other PB4Y Privateers on our website

PB4Y-2 at the Naval Aviation Centennial



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* PBY4 Privateer facts

Category Bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Introduced 1943
Used in

United States Navy
United States Coast Guard
Number built 739
Cruising speed 175 mph
Max. speed 237 mph
Altitude 21,000 feet service ceiling
Range 2,820 miles
* Numbers are approximate