Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 4

PBY_41_PBY-5A_VP-61_Aleutians_Mar1943
A PBY-5A Catalina amphibian from VP-61 flies over the rugged Aleutian landscape in March 1943. Aerials for the surface search radar can be seen under the wings.

PBY_42_Aleutians
Another photograph from the Aleutians shows this PBY moored to a buoy with others visible in the background. Flying boat squadrons could be based in sheltered bays and supported from seaplane tenders, many of which in the US Navy were converted from flush-deck destroyers.

PBY_43_Puerto Rico 1939, Gov. William_P_Leahy
A pre-war photograph taken in 1939 shows a Catalina from Patrol Squadron 51 in the colorful yellow wings markings. Posed in front of the aircraft is the Governor of Puerto Rico, William P. Leahy.

PBY_44_Vice Admiral Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN, Stands in Center of Large Group of French and American Naval Officers at NAS, Norfolk, Virginia
VADM Patrick Bellinger presides over a ceremony at NAS Norfolk. The PBY is finished in the Atlantic ASW scheme of Gull Gray over White. Note the asymmetric demarcation of the color separation on the fuselage.

PBY_45_brazilian-pby-5a-amphibians-handed-over-by-vp-94-oct-1944-at-rio
VP-94 transfers their PBY-5A’s to the Brazilian Navy in this ceremony held at Rio de Janeiro in October 1944. The aircraft in the background shows evidence of the US national insignia painted out under the wing.

PBY_46_withPBM
A PBY-5A framed by the twin tails of the aircraft which supplanted, but never entirely replaced the Catalina in service, The Martin PBM Mariner.

PBY_47_USCG
Seen in high-vis post-war markings, this PBY-6 served in the Search And Rescue role with the US Coast Guard.

PBY_48_at Naval Air Station, New Orleans, Louisiana
Sailors perform engine maintenance at NAS New Orleans. The Catalina is in the graded camouflage scheme and carries the national markings authorized in August 1943.

RCAF ,PBY -5 Canso,  Jan. 1942 Photo; RCAF via James Craik
A beautiful in-flight shot of a Royal Canadian Air Force Canso in flight in January 1942 in the Temperate Sea Scheme.

PBY_50
A Catalina on the ramp displaying her waist gun and rather intricate radio antenna rig.

Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 3

PBY_33
A view of two Catalinas wearing a mix of camouflages and markings.  The nearer aircraft is in the Atlantic ASW scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White and wears the blue-bordered insignia adopted in August 1943.  The aircraft in the background is in the Blue Gray over Light Gray scheme with the earlier national insignia which still carries the yellow border used during the Torch landings in North Africa.

PBY_34
Not the best picture but another mix of different camouflages.  Noteworthy is the pin-up artwork on the tail of the aircraft on the left.  Personal markings or artwork were common on USAAF aircraft but much less so with USN / USMC operated aircraft.  The artwork and the serial on the tail indicate these are USAAF OA-10As.

PBY_35
A rather worn PBY-5A over the ocean.  The white dots over the rear fuselage are insulators for an extensive array of antenna wires, also note the ASV radar antenna under the starboard wing.

PBY_36
Diorama bait!  Here the USS Gillis (AVD-12) refuels a PBY astern in Aleutian waters while three Higgins 78 foot Patrol Torpedo Boats nest alongside.  The Gillis was a Clemson-class Destroyer converted to a seaplane tender, but still retained a significant compliment of guns & depth charges and could function as an escort vessel.  She was credited with damaging a Japanese submarine with depth charges while in the Aleutians.  (via David Knights)

PBY_02_HG
Passing documents to the co-pilot of a VP-51 PBY. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

PBY_03_HG
Here the beaching crew is preparing to bring a PBY-5 up on the ramp using wetsuits and a small dinghy.  This involved attaching wheeled beaching gear to the aircraft and then hauling it up the ramp using a towing vehicle or block and tackle, and had to be done in all weather conditions and temperatures.  Note the repainted areas on the wing of this PBY. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

PBY_04_HG
The hauling lines are attached aft and beaching gear is being secured to the fuselage sides.  The crewman standing in the waist blister is recovering the sea anchor, a canvas device used to orient and slow the aircraft on the surface in windy conditions. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

PBY_05_HG
Line handlers stabilize the PBY while it is being readied to come up the ramp. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

PBY_06_RA
A PBY-5 approaches the ramp while the beaching crew stands by.  In warm weather the men in the water could get by with regular swimming trunks. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Hans Groenhoff Photo Collection)

PBY_01_HG
An Oliver tractor is being used to haul the PBY-5 up the ramp.  An additional set of beaching gear is positioned on the ramp, standing by for the next aircraft. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

PBY_04_RA
A Case tractor is secured for towing on the seaplane ramp. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

PBY_05_RA
The PBY is ready to move. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

PBY_01_RA
A nice airborne shot of a pre-war PBY-5 seaplane.  684 PBY-5 seaplanes were produced before production shifted to the PBY-5A amphibian. (National Air and Space Museum Archives, Rudy Arnold Photo Collection)

Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 2 – Details

PBY_21
A nice view of the nose of a PBY at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas taken in 1942 while a mechanic makes adjustments to the starboard engine.  The aircraft in the background are assigned to training as evidenced by the high-visibility yellow upper wing surface paint.  (Howard Hollum photograph)

PBY_22
The PBY-5 introduced the characteristic waist blisters on the fuselage aft of the wing.  These improved the visibility and arcs of fire for the gunners.  Here is a view of the port waist gunner armed with a Model M1919 .30 caliber Browning machine gun which was the standard flexible defensive armament on USN aircraft at the beginning of the war.

PBY_23
Another view of the port waist gun position, the can on the left of the gun held ammunition, that on the right collected the spent cartridges.

PBY_24_CorpusChristi42
Here the gunner prepares to board the aircraft with his weapon using the detachable ladder.  Note that the fuselage is camouflaged in two different colors.

PBY_25
An obviously posed photograph, but one which shows useful details of the detachable beaching gear.  The Catalinas were flying boats through the PBY-5 series, but became amphibians when retractable landing gear was fitted to the PBY-5A.

PBY_26
Many interesting details are visible in this view of a crewman fueling an early PBY in the pre-war Yellow Wings scheme.  Note the paint wear around the fueling ports and the exhaust staining.  Another PBY passes by in the background.

PBY_27
Officers inspecting the starboard engine of another Yellow Wings PBY.  Pre-war propeller warning markings were bands of Red, Yellow, and Blue.  These were generally not over-painted even after the tip color was later changed to Yellow, it is possible to see the three-color tip markings on some mid-war aircraft.  The clear yellow varnish on the main body of the propeller blades is not common but can be seen on several aircraft types.

PBY_28
No tip warning markings on this propeller.  This picture also shows details of the wing bomb attachment paints and landing light.

PBY_29
Given the fill point being serviced I suspect this is the oil tank being topped off.  Radial engines were notorious oil leakers.  Another aircraft with the varnished propeller blades.

PBY_30
A close up view of a PBY on the ramp with the crew visible at their stations.  Crew size could vary between six to eight depending on the mission and equipment carried.

PBY_38
This is the starboard waist gun position on an early PBY.  On the PBY-1 through -4 the waist gun positions were covered with a sliding hatch with a window as opposed to the more familiar teardrop faring of the -5 and later Catalinas.  Here the gunner has deployed his .30 caliber gun and raised the hatch to deflect the slipstream over his position.

Consolidated PBY Catalina Color Photographs Part 1

PBY_01
A beautiful shot of an RAF Catalina I in flight.  The RAF began operating the Catalina in 1940.  The aircraft wears the standard Temperate Sea scheme of Extra Dark Sea Gray and Dark Slate Gray over Sky.

PBY_02_NASCorpusChristi_Aug42
Another Catalina in the RAF Temperate Sea scheme, but this time in U.S. markings at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in August 1942.  A number of aircraft on British order were pressed into U.S. service after Pearl Harbor.

PBY_03_SegulaIsland_Aleutians
A PBY passes by Segula Island in the Aleutians.  While it makes for a visually interesting picture, the ruggedness of the terrain is also apparent.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

PBY_04
This PBY illustrates the propensity in the Aleutian Theater to deviate from standard insignia protocols.   All the national insignia visible on this aircraft carry the red outline briefly authorized during the Summer of 1943, although by that time the insignia was not supposed to have been carried on the upper surface of the starboard wing.

PBY_05
Another LIFE Magazine photograph showing a PBY over the inhospitable Aleutian terrain.  Prior to the Pacific War the U.S. Navy had declared seaplane operations in the Aleutian Winter to be impossible, but wartime requirements soon forced a reassessment.

PBY_06_PV-1_Aleutians_1943
The PBY with its successor in the Aleutians, the PV-1 Neptune.  Both aircraft carry the mid-1943 style national insignia.

PBY_07
Crewmen performing engine maintenance on a PBY-5A of VP-31.  The spray strake on the bow is clearly visible, as is the search radar aerial on the port wing.

PBY_08
The USAAF operated the Catalina in the Search And Rescue role, designating their aircraft the OA-10A.  This white example displays a USAAF serial on the vertical tail and the streamlined radar housing which first appeared late in the PBY-5A production run.

PBY_09_USCG_PBY_Greenland
The USCG also operated the PBY-5A, this example is seen in the Atlantic ASW camouflage scheme of Dark Gull Gray over White parked on the Marston Mat apron in Greenland.  Note the Quonset hut buildings in the background are all marked with the U.S. insignia.

PBY_10
A PBY-5A amphibian with its wheels lowered for a shore landing in the late-war camouflage and insignia.  (LIFE Magazine photograph)

PBY_31_PBY-5 trainers NAS Pensacola
These PBY-5As seen on the ramp at NAS Pensacola display a variety of camouflage and markings.  These aircraft are serving in the training role.  Of interest is the “V” tape visible on the aileron and wing of the aircraft at the bottom of the photograph, this feature can be seen in pictures of many PBYs.

PBY_32
A bombed-up PBY on the ramp in the Aleutians, in the foreground is a bomb cart carrying a 500 pound bomb and two depth charges.  U.S. ordinance can be seen in various colors and states of preservation, these appear to be in a Light Gray and are unmarked.

Those Navy Guys and Their PBYs Book Review

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Those Navy Guys and Their PBYs: The Aleutian Solution

By Elmer Freeman

Paperback, 267 pages, illustrated

Published by Kedging Publishing Company July 1992

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0963246305

ISBN-13: 978-0963246301

Dimensions: 10.1 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches

This is a first-hand account written by an member of a PBY (Patrol Bomber, Consolidated) squadron operating in the Aleutian Islands during the first part of the Second World War.  Freeman starts out on the beaching crew hauling flying boats up the ramp with VP-41, but is advanced to aircrew and eventually a Plane Captain with VP-42 when they deploy.  Winter operations with the PBY in the Aleutians were considered impossible before the war but were something which had to be done when the war started, although with considerable difficulty and risk.

Freeman describes in detail the various procedures and duties involved in PBY operations, and the specific challenges posed by the Aleutian weather.  I found the specifics fascinating.  Installing the beaching gear (wheels) on a flying boat so it could be hauled out of the water up a ramp was a choreographed operation.  Life aboard a seaplane tender was no vacation, Aviation Machinists Mates stood engineering watches alongside the ships’ crew when underway.  When moored to a buoy, the aircrew posted watches aboard their aircraft, which were equipped with bunks and a small galley.  At times the aircrew preferred to live aboard their aircraft rather than ashore in tents during the Alaskan winter.  Freeman describes all the operations of a PBY squadron fighting against both the Japanese and the weather.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  It is a hidden gem, offering insight into a little known theater of the war and aircraft operations which are not as well covered as the carrier or bomber types.  There are numerous photographs, all produced on a full page.  Freeman’s writing style is relatable and easily accessible, he strikes a good balance between providing detail and keeping the narrative flowing.  My only suggestions for improvement are this book should be in hardback, and the paper could be a higher quality to display the photographs better.  A good read, highly recommended.

As an aside, I picked up this book at the Half Price Books sale for $2.00.  I love a deal!  On the back cover is a retail sticker from “Skagway Alaska”.  I have to wonder how the book moved from Skagway to the Lower 48, eventually to wind up in my collection.  Each book has its own story.

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