Consolidated PBY Catalina

The PBY Catalina was an American flying boat of the 1930s and 1940s. It could be equipped with depth charges, bombs, torpedoes, and .50 Browning machineguns and was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II. PBYs served with every branch of the US military and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. In the United States Army Air Forces and later in the USAF their designation was the OA-10, while Canadian-built PBYs were known as Cansos. 

Consolidated PBY Catalina
Class Aircraft
Type Bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Origin United States of America
Country Name Origin Year
United States of America 1935
Country Name Operational Year Retirement Year
United States of America 1935 1957 View
ManufacturerName Production From Production To Quantity
Consolidated Aircraft 4051 View

In World War II, PBYs were used as anti-submarine warfare aircraft, patrol bombers, convoy escorts, search and rescue aircraft, and transports. The PBY was the most successful aircraft of its kind, as no other flying boat was produced in greater numbers. The last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. Even today, over seventy years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as an airtanker in aerial firefighting operations all over the world. 

In the acronym PBY, PB stands for Patrol Bomber, and Y is the code for Consolidated Aircraft, as designated in the 1922 United States Navy aircraft designation system.

Role Maritime patrol and search-and-rescue seaplane
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
Designer Isaac M. Laddon
First flight 28 March 1935
Introduction October 1936, United States Navy
Retired January 1957 (United States Navy Reserve)
1979 (Brazilian Air Force)
Primary users United States Navy
United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Australian Air Force
Produced 1936–1945
Number built 3,305 ( 2,661 US-built, 620 Canadian-built, 24 Soviet-built)
Unit cost US$90,000 (as of 1935)
Adjusted for inflation: US$1548131
Variants Bird Innovator

General characteristics

  • Crew: 8 (pilot, co-pilot, bow turret gunner, flight mechanic, radioman, navigator and two waist gunners)
  • Length: 63 ft 10 7/16 in (19.46 m)
  • Wingspan: 104 ft 0 in (31.70 m)
  • Height: 21 ft 1 in (6.15 m)
  • Wing area: 1,400 ft (130 m)
  • Empty weight: 20,910 lb (9,485 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 35,420 lb (16,066 kg)
  • Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines, 1,200 hp (895 kW each) each
  • Zero-lift drag coefficient: 0.0309
  • Drag area: 43.26 ft (4.02 m)
  • Aspect ratio: 7.73 
  • Maximum speed: 196 mph (314 km/h)
  • Cruise speed: 125 mph (201 km/h)
  • Range: 2,520 mi (4,030 km)
  • Service ceiling 15,800 ft (4,000 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,000 ft/min (5.1 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 25.3 lb/ft (123.6 kg/m)
  • Power/mass: 0.034 hp/lb (0.056 kW/kg)
  • Lift-to-drag ratio: 11.9


  • 3 x .30 cal (7.62 mm) machine guns (two in nose turret, one in ventral hatch at tail)
  • 2 x .50 cal (12.7 mm) machine guns (one in each waist blister)
  • 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) of bombs or depth charges, torpedo racks were also available

End notes