What is a PBY aircraft?
In 1928 The Consolidated Aircraft Company received a contract from the United States Government to produce a single XPY-1 patrol flying boat for the United States Navy. The XPY-1 would become the Navy's first large monoplane flying boat. Although the Martin Company won the contract for the production version for the Navy, Consolidated was undeterred and they submitted a modified design, the XP2Y-1 to the Navy. The success of this design resulted in a contract for 23 production aircraft. The design was further improved and as the P2Y-2 a further 23 production aircraft were ordered.
Following rigorous testing, the Consolidated design team was awarded a production contract of the Model 28, now re designated XPBY-1 (PBY means Patrol Bomber, Y is the manufacturer's code for Consolidated Aircraft Company).
In 1932, Consolidated submitted its new Model 28 design in response to a design competition announced by the US Navy for a new flying boat. Consolidated, along with Douglas was awarded a contract for production of a single aircraft on 28th October 1933. Consolidated's new aircraft, now designated XP3Y-1, was a streamlined airplane with very clean lines and retractable wing tip floats and propelled by the new Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-58 engines developing 825 HP each. The XP3Y-1 flew for the first time 21st of March 1935.
Royal New Zealand Air Force Catalinas
The Royal New Zealand Air Force had 56 Catalina's in all between 1943 and 1953. They were registered NZ4001-4056 inclusive and included 22 PBY-5s (mostly MklVAs) with the remainder being PB2B-1's. All were flying boats, with no amphibian models being taken on charge. The aircraft were operated initially by No 6 Squadron (the squadron code used was XX-) from Lauthala Bay, Fiji, before moving to Havalo Bay, on Florida Island near Guadalcanal. No 3 Operational Training Unit was at Lauthala Bay and used the squadron code GF-).
PBY Catalinas in service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force 1943-1954
They were given the serial numbers NZ4001-4056 and included 22 Consolidated PBY-5s (mostly RAF Catalina MklVAs) with the remainder being Boeing Canada licence built PB2B-1 s. All were flying boats, with no amphibian models being taken on charge by the RNZAF.
The initial Catalinas were acquired to replace 3 antiquated and somewhat worn out Short Singapore III biplane flying boats that were struggling to provide aerial reconnaissance needs for the Fijian Islands which at the time appeared to be under imminent threat of Japanese invasion. The first 9 Catalinas were allocated from an RAF order, the remaining 47 were supplied from the US Navy under terms of lend-lease.
World War II
The initial PBY aircraft were operated by No. 6 Squadron (using the squadron code XX-) from Lauthala Bay in Fiji, with detachments operating from Tongatapu in Tonga. In October 1943, the Squadron moved to Havalo Bay, on Florida Island near Guadalcanal. No 3 Operational Training Unit was also established at Lauthala Bay (squadron code GF-).