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Consolidated Catalina

The Consolidated PBY Catalina is a flying boat and amphibious aircraft that was produced in the 1930s and 1940s.

In Canadian service it was known as the Canso.

It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II.

Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.

The last military PBYs served until the 1980s.


US Navy


Prototype Model 28 flying boat later re-designated XPBY-1.

Later fitted with a 48-foot-diameter (15 m) ring to sweep magnetic sea mines.

A 550 hp Ranger engine drove a generator to produce a magnetic field.


Prototype version of the Model 28 for the United States Navy, a re-engine XP3Y-1 with two 900 hp R-1830-64 engines.

PBY-1 (Model 28-1)

Initial production variant with two 900 hp R-1830-64 engines.

PBY-2 (Model 28-2)

Equipment changes and improved performance.

PBY-3 (Model 28-3)

Powered by two 1,000 hp R-1830-66 engines.

PBY-4 (Model 28-4)

Powered by two 1,050 hp R-1830-72 engines.

PBY-5 (Model 28-5)

Either two 1,200 hp R-1830-82 or −92 engines and provision for extra fuel tanks (with partial self-sealing protection).  

Some aircraft to the RAF as the Catalina IVA and one to the United States Coast Guard.

The PBY-5 was also built in the Soviet Union as the GST.


One PBY-4 converted into an amphibian and first flown in November 1939.

PBY-5A (Model 28-5A)

Amphibious version of the PBY-5 with two 1,200 hp R-1830-92 engines, first batch (of 124) had one 0.3in bow gun, the remainder had two bow guns. 


The XPBY-5A converted into a staff transport, with amphibious gear and nose turret removed and additional windows added.


Amphibious version with two 1,200 hp R-1830-92 engines and a taller fin and rudder.

Radar scanner fitted above cockpit and two 0.5 in nose guns, 21 were used by the Soviet Navy.


One PBY-6A used by the United States Coast Guard as a staff transport.


Boeing Canada built PBY-5 for the RAF and RCAF from 1942.


Boeing Canada built version of the PBY-5 but with the taller fin of the PBN-1.

Most supplied to the RAF as the Catalina VI.

PBN-1 Nomad

Naval Aircraft Factory built version of the PBY-5 with major modification including a 2ft bow extension, modified hull lines with a modified step, re-designed wingtip floats and tail surfaces and a revised electrical system.

A total of 155 were built for delivery to the RAF as the Catalina V although 138 were Lend-Leased to the Soviet Navy as the KM-1


Canadian Vickers built version of the PBY-5A, 380 built including 150 to the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canso-A and the rest to the USAAF as the OA-10A.



United States Army Air Forces designation for PBY-5A, 58 aircraft survivors re-designated A-10 in 1948.


USAAF designation of Canadian Vickers-built version of the PBV-1A.

Survivors re-designated A-10A in 1948.


USAAF designation of PBY-6A, 75 built.

Re-designated A-10B in 1948.


Catalina I

Direct purchase aircraft for the Royal Air Force, same as the PBY-5 with six 0.303 in guns and powered by two 1,200 hp R-1830-S1C3-G engines.

Catalina IA

Operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Canso.

Catalina IB

Lend-lease PBY-5Bs for the RAF.

Catalina II

Equipment changes.

Catalina IIA

Vickers-Canada built Catalina II for the RAF.

Catalina IIIA

Former U.S. Navy PBY-5As used by the RAF on the North Atlantic Ferry Service.

These were the only amphibians that saw RAF service.

Catalina IVA

Lend-lease PBY-5s for the RAF.

Catalina IVB

Lend-lease PB2B-1s for the RAF, some to the Royal Australian Air Force.

Catalina VI

Lend-lease PB2B-2s for the RAF, some to the RAAF.



RCAF designation for PBV-1A

Other users


Soviet-built version of the PBY-5.

Steward-Davis Super Catalina (“Super Cat”)

Catalina converted to use 1,700 hp Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 engines, with enlarged rudder and other changes.

Avalon Turbo Canso

A turboprop conversion of Canso water bombers, powered by two Rolls-Royce Dart engines.





63 ft 10.875 in (19.47863 m)


104 ft (32 m)


21 ft 1 in (6.43 m)

Wing area

1,400 sq ft (130 m2)

Aspect ratio


Empty weight

20,910 lb (9,485 kg)

Max take-off weight

35,420 lb (16,066 kg)

Zero-lift drag coefficient


Drag area

43.26 ft2 (4.02 m2)


2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 14-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engines,

1,200 hp (890 kW) each


3-bladed constant-speed propellers


Maximum speed

196 mph (315 km/h, 170 kn)

Cruise speed

125 mph (201 km/h, 109 kn)


2,520 mi (4,060 km, 2,190 nmi)

Service ceiling

15,800 ft (4,800 m)

Rate of climb

1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)



Wing loading

25.3 lb/sq ft (124 kg/m2)


0.067 hp/lb (0.110 kW/kg)



3 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns.

2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns.


4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of bombs or depth charges; torpedo racks were also available.




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