A second operational squadron, No 5 Squadron (with the squadron code PA-) then formed and moved to the US base at Segond Channel, on Espirito Santo.

Both squadrons were used on long-range maritime patrol and shipping escort patrols, with "Dumbo" air sea rescue and transport as secondary roles. Seven Catalina's were written off in wartime accidents.


Some prominent Kiwis served on Catalinas during the war period including Edmund Hillary who was a navigator on the aircraft, first with No.6 Squadron and then No. 5 Squadron.

Post-war years 1945-1954


After World War Two only half a dozen or so of the best flying boats were maintained in service with No. 5 Squadron (squadron code became KN-) and these were in turn fitted with the latest search radar which utilised a large randome behind the cockpit rather than the more primitive 'Yagi' radar used previously. The remainder of the aircraft were put into storage at Auckland's RNZAF Base Hobsonville.


In the post-war period the aircraft were used for maritime surveillance and search and rescue missions including a number of "mercy missions" to isolated Pacific islands often for cyclone relief and medical emergencies. Eight Catalina's were written off in the post-war period.

Final days: two of the last operational Catalinas at Hobsonville, 1953.

Two PB2B-ls were loaned to Tasman Empire Airways (TEAL) for short periods after the war, one (which became ZK-AMI) as a crew trainer, the other (ZK-AMP) to survey a flying boat route from Fiji to Tahiti, later to become known as "The Coral Route" and used by TEAL's Solent flying boats. These two aircraft were eventually returned to the RNZAF for storage at Hobsonville before being scrapped.

All of the Catalina's were eventually scrapped at Hobsonville, 28 aircraft were scrapped in August 1952 and the last six in December 1955.

Catalinas await their fate in storage at Hobsonville Aerodrome, 1952.

The Catalina's were replaced in RNZAF service by refurbished ex-RAF Sunderland flying boats which continued to fly until the cessation of all of New Zealand's flying boat activities in June 1967.

Copyright 2013 - 2020 New Zealand Catalina Preservation Society Inc

Site Design and Maintenance by www.adelesousterart.co.nz

Main Photo: Catherine Thompson, Art & Photography. Facebook - Catherine Thompson Art