The aircraft also proved itself in large-scale exercises held off the west coast of America.
US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Pacifi
Such detection allowed defending forces to position themselves to advantage. The point was made — the PBY had done the job it had been bought for. The black stripes on the hull decking aft and atop the wing were non-skid walkways, while the wing chevron and cowl rings were in red, denoting that these PBYs were assigned to Red Section US Navy. In addition, this exercise saw the US Navy use radio direction finding RDF, or simply radar, as it was later known techniques to augment reconnaissance for the first time.
RDF involved taking contact bearings from shore stations, ships at sea and from PBYs aloft in an effort to calculate where the enemy was. Even in its rudimentary form, RDF showed considerable promise. Besides aeroplanes, suitable seaplane tenders and shore base facilities were also essential to support PBY operations, but Depression-era budgets were lean, and few were available.
In the years prior to the war, several smaller ships were also converted, with a group of Bird class minesweepers becoming small tenders.
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A handful of four-piper destroyers were also converted in , whilst the more effective Barnegat class tenders joined the fleet in early With an over-the-horizon reach, the PBY was changing the way the fleet did things. USS Langley , seen here at anchor in off Mare Island, north of San Francisco, was converted from a conventional aircraft carrier into a seaplane tender.
The vessel lost part of its forward flightdeck during the conversion. Ex-World War 1 destroyer USS Williamson photographed here in gave up its torpedo tubes, three 4-in gun mounts, forward boilers and two stacks when it was converted into a seaplane tender, receiving four twin 20 mm antiaircraft gun mounts on an enlarged galley deckhouse instead. Vessels such as this provided a workable stand-in until Barnegat class tenders joined the fleet US Navy. With the organisational structure firmly in place, the US Navy now looked to force expansion as the way ahead.
Although a paucity of funding initially restricted growth, gradually things gained momentum as the political situation both in Europe and the Pacific deteriorated. Although not all had a full complement of aircraft, let alone PBYs, and more units were planned, Consolidated fulfilled its contractual obligations in May when it delivered the last of the PBY-4s then on order. That spring, company engineers commenced work on an alternative to the never quite satisfactory sliding waste hatches in the PBY.
This aircraft was finally written off when it water-looped during a hard landing in Escambia Bay, Florida, on 15 January while serving with a training unit Naval Institute. This photograph was taken in the Canal Zone in the late s. The waist Browning M2 0.
The starboard weapon is seen here extended, with the sliding waist hatch fully open US Navy. The aircraft remained in San Diego accessible to Consolidated engineers, and was dropped from VP when the squadron returned to Pearl Harbor in December of that year. On 1 July , all units were renumbered to coincide with their wing assignment.
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Having only been back at its Ford Island base for a matter of months, the unit was now tasked with conducting Neutrality Patrol missions from Manila Bay, in the Philippines, in support of the Asiatic Fleet. The colour of the tail markings remains uncertain US Navy. A close-up of the port waist blister and Browning M2 0.
The armour plate shield fitted to the weapon became available in early , and was a standard fit fleet-wide by year-end. It gave the exposed gunner some protection from attacking fighters, although the PBY remained incredibly vulnerable to a determined aerial attack throughout World War 2. Note that the anti-fouling paint has been removed from the hull and floats below the waterline on these Philippines-based aircraft Ziegler.
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