The Douglas DC-3

Douglas DC-3


In 1935, the first Douglas DC-3 took to the skies that began an incredible advancement in transportation in that started the world on its way to fast, reliable and safe way to travel. The DC-3 had a lasting effect on the airline industry and made it one of the most significant transport every made.

The Dc-3 was an all metal monoplane that was designed to be an all sleeper version of the DC-2. It was fast, reliable could operate off short runways. Plus it had a good range (for the time), easy to maintain and provide passengers with great comfort.

In the 1930s, the DC-3 pioneered many new routes across the country, making it possible to fly transcontinental in a matter of a few hours. It was the first airliner to make money by carrying passengers alone.

The Civil DC-3 ended production in 1942, but the military venison, the C-47 (also known as the Dakota in England) continued on in production until 1950. There were 607 Civil DC-3,s and over 16,000 of the military venison of all types built between 1936 and 1950.

After World War II, as aviation technology advanced, big four engine aircraft like the Lockheed Constellation and the DC-4 replaced the smaller DC-3. However the DC-3 continued to service many communities through the years.

There were estimated over 2,000 DC-3s still flying as of 2013 throughout the world. Most of these aircraft were used as a “niche “role, quite a testament to the design of this popular and sturdy aircraft.

Design and Development

The Dc-3 came about from an inquiry by Transcontinental and Western Airlines (TWA) to Douglas Aircraft about designing and building an aircraft for TWA. The rival of TWA was United Airlines. They had had a contract with Boeing for the Boeing 247. The contract stated that Boeing Aircraft could not sell any “247s” until the United Airlines order of 60 aircraft was fulfilled.

In the 1930s aircraft building was still a budding art and TWA could not afford to wait until United had all of their aircraft. The DC-1 (DC means Douglas Commercial) had promise and the DC-2 was a great advancement, but there was still room for some improvement.

Then American Airlines CEO called Donald Douglas CEO of Douglas Aircraft. and convinced him that American would buy 20 DST (Douglas Sleeper Transport) which were just slightly bigger than the DC-2. The DST had 14-16 sleeping berths with a cabin width of just 92 inches.

The Douglas Sleeper Transport (DST)

The berths were atop each other like a Pullman railroad car but the passenger go sleep at night on an Eastbound transcontinental trip of about 15 hours with 3 refueling stops. The Westbound trip was about 17 1/2 hours. Prior to this, most aircraft were too slow and sho9rt ranged to fly at night.

The trip from San Francisco to New York, for example in the pre-DC-3 days, consisted of flying several hundred miles in the day and taking a train at night and than resumming the flight next day.

Douglas also made the DST frame into daytime seats and called the DC-3.   American Airlines received the first DST and DC-3.

The original engines on the early DC-3/DST were Wright R-1830 Cyclone 98. Later the Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp which had better efficiency at higher altitude and safer single engine performance. All military versions had the Pratt & Whitney 1830 Twin Wasp. Near the end of production, a few of the new DC-3’s had Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasps.

There were 607 versions of the DC-3 and 10,048 C-47 and C-53 military versions.  The Soviet Union under license built 4,937 military variants from 1935-1935.  The Japanese from 1935-1945 under license, built 487 aircraft called”Tabbys”.

Douglas Aircraft developed and upgraded what they called the “Super DC-3” with a larger tail, longer fuselage, sawed off wing tips and Pratt & Whitney R-2000 Twin Wasp rated 1,475 hp.  Unfortunately, the war-surplus glut limited sales to only 5.  Three going to Capital Airlines and 2 to United States Navy (USN).

Iranian Airlines in 1954

Operational History

On 26 June 1936, American Airlines inaugural DC-3 service from Newark New Jersey and Chicago Illinois.  In spite of TWA’s request from Donald Douglas to design a special aircraft for them, they used the DC-2 for a while and eventually upgraded the DC-3.  American, United, TWA, Delta, Eastern , Continental Airlines and Piedmont Airlines all ordered a total over 400 DC-3.

Piedmont’s and Continental ‘s DC-3 entry was a little later then some of the other airline,  as they operated the DC-3 from 1948-1963.  Continental DC-3 was a little later as they operated a DC-3 between Colorado Springs and Denver in 1964-66.

On the international scene, KLM in 1936 got their first DC-3.  Regretfully it was shot down by Luftwaffe fighters in 1943.  In all KLM ordered 23 Dc-3s.

Nearly every country in the world has had a C-47 or DC-3 or maybe even a DST.  For example, inspire of politics, Cubana de Aviacion operated flights from Havana to Miami in 1945 and on some domestic routes until the 1960s.

While some of these usages is not overly amazing, what is amazing is the DC-3 is still in use after 80 years plus since the initial flight on 17 December 1935.

Today it used for passenger and cargo service,  military transport, missionary flying, skydiving, shuttling, sightseeing and many other uses.

The DC-3 continues to fly daily in active commercial and military service.  As of a short while ago, a DC-3 daily flew bread from Honolulu to Maui.

A number of aircraft manufacturers have attempted to “replace” the DC-3 over the past 40 years or so, no type could match the versatility, rugged reliability and economy of the DC-3.

It is a common saying ..”to replace a DC-3, one has to replace it with another DC-3″.  I don’t think Donald Douglas and designer Arthur Raymond realized what they had designed, it changed the aviation world.

Where you can see the Douglas DC-3

The DC-3/C-47 was such a popular aircraft and still is.  If an air museum has any aircraft for display, it should have the venerable Douglas DC-3.

Turbo DC-3

Check With Your Local Air Museum for More Information.

Tech Specs for the Douglas DC-3

Wingspan: 95 ft 2 in

Length: 64 ft 8 in

Height: 16 ft 11 in

Weight: 16,865 lbs (empty); 25,199 lbs (MGTOW)

Max Speed: 200 mph

Ceiling: 23,2000 ft

Range: 4 hours cruise 

Engine: 2/Pratt & Whitney R-1830-S1CG Twin Wasp 14 cylinders radial engine rated at 1,200 hp

Crew: 2 (cockpit)

Passngerss: 21-32


The Boeing 314 Flying Boat


The Boeing 314 Flying Boat also known as the Boeing Clipper was built by Boeing Airplane Company from 1938-1941. It was used by two airlines and later the United States Navy (USN) for long range flights across the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

There were only 12 built,  these going to Pan American Airways. Pan Am sold three Clippers to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). The nine Flying Boats at Pan Am were later transferred to United States Navy (USN).

The Boeing 314 was a marvelous aircraft of its day but had a short life span as it was retired in 1946.

Design and Development

Pan American Airways requested of the Boeing Airplane Company to build a flying boat with long range to augment it’s Martin 130 it was currently using across the Pacific Ocean. On 21 July 1936, Pan Am signed a contract with Boeing for 6 Boeing 314 Flying Boats.

The Boeing engineers used the wing from a XB-15 that had been canceled by the United States Army Air Corp.and outfitted the new design with the Wright R-2600-3 Twin Cyclone radial engines rated at 1,600 hp. Soon Pan Am ordered 6 more 314s for a total of 12 Clippers. The last 6 had a capacity of 77 daytime passengers and 36 nighttime passengers.

The first flight was on 07 June 1938 by Edmund “Eddie” Allen (who later flew the first Boeing B-29).    Allen noted that the 314 was nearly uncontrollable with just the single tail fin (no wind tunnel in those days for an aircraft that large).

The Clipper was re-worked with a triple tail soon to be an identifying sign of the Boeing 314 clipper. The new tail proved to be very effective in solving the control problem and the 314 was released to Pan Am.

  • Some interesting features of the aircraft and travel policies and costs. were:
  • Maximum baggage per passenger was 77 lbs free and excessive wright charge of USD$2.25 per pound.
  • Cost per passenger from San Francisco-Hong Kong (USD) $675 ow/$1,368 rt.
  • The 77 daytime seats were converted into 36 bunk beds for nighttime use as the flight from San Francisco-Honolulu was 19 hours.(A bit of a mystery as to what happened to the 41 daytime passengers when the seats were turned into night bunk bunk beds??)
  • There was a Dining Room and Lounge with Galley for meals, as the Chiefs and Stewards were of 4-Star quality.
  • The meal consisted of 5-6 course meals. this was not your standard “economy” travel as it is today.
  • A mens’ and women s’ dressing room.
  • Operational statistics:
  • Fuel-4,,246 U.S. gallons of gasoline.
  • Oil-300 U.S. gallons per engine.
  • Normal Cruise Speed-188mph; 155 mph at maximum weight.

The standard of luxury in this form of air travel has rarely been matched. A fare of $675 was way beyond the average travelers’ budget. This form of travel was for the Super Rich only in the late 1930s as the world was just coming out of the “Great Depression”.

Operational History

On 23 February 1939, the first scheduled Boeing 314 Flying Boat flight left San Francisco for Honolulu. This leg #1 took about 19 hours. Granted,  you did have all the comforts of home, bed, dining room, changing room and 4 star hotel meals, but it was a long flight.

The Next leg was from Honolulu to Midway Island which was a lot shorter of a flight than the previous day which  about 8 hours. The night was spent on Midway

The next day leg #3 was from Midway Island to Wake Island about another 10 hours. Again the night was spent on Wake Island.

Then leg #4 was from Wake Island to Guam, this flight was around 10 hours and the traveler again overnighted on Guam.

The fifth leg was from Guam to Manila, Philippines which took about 81 hours.

The final day on the Clipper was from Manila to Hong Kong and later an optional flight from Manila to Shanghai..

Another schedule option was the termination of the Pan Am flight in Manila.

Regardless of your destination in the Orient, it  took 5-6 days to reach it.

On 07/08 December 1941 (depending where they were on the globe) some of the Pan Am Clippers were in the midst of hostile activities.  The Pacific Clipper was enroute to Auckland, New Zealand from Noumea, New Caledonia .  Auckland was the termination of the Pacific Clipper’s schedule.

When the news of the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese, Captain Robert Ford the Commander of the Pacific Clipper made the decision that it would be too dangerous to return to San Francisco via the route they had just taken.  Instead he planned to fly West to LaGuardia, New York, the main base for Pan Am Flying Boats.

This westward trip was to cover over 31,500 miles through through unscheduled places as

  • Gladstone and Darwin Australia
  • Surabaya Java
  • Trincomalee Ceylon
  • Karachi British India
  • Bahrain
  • Khartoum Sudan
  • Leopoldville
  • Belgian Congo
  • Natal Brazil
  • Port of Spain Trinidad Tobago
  • La Guardia New York arriving 06 January 1942.

A less dramatic episode was with the Philippine Clipper Which was traveling from San francisco to Manila Philippines.  It had spent the night on Wake Island and was headed to Guam, Marianas the next morning that is on 08 December 1941.

The Philippine Clipper took off around 0900 hrs heading West and about 1 1/2-2 hrs into the flight they saw squadrons of Japanese “Bettys” (2 engine bombers) heading for Wake Island.  The Clipper turned around went back to Wake.

The Japanese bomber force (with Zeros-fighter aircraft) seemed to ignore the Clipper as it loaded up Pan Am personnel and as much equipment they could carry.

They took off after a Zero strafed them, causing minor damage and headed  for Midway Island.  The next day they continued on to Honolulu and finally on to San Francisco.

The Boeing 314 was becoming obsolete as large 4 engine aircraft like the DC-4 (C-54) and Lockheed Constellation were faster,  carry bigger loads.

During the early years of the war, the Clippers were transferred to the USN until the end of hostilities and taken out of service around 1946.The remaining Clippers  eventually scrapped in the early 1950s.

The Boeing 314 epitaph was given by one of the most experienced Boeing 314 Flying Boat pilots who said:

“We were indeed glad to change to Dc-4s and I argued daily for eliminating all flying boats.  The landplanes were much safer.  No one in the operations department had any idea of the hazards of flying boat operations.  The main problem now was lack of very high level experience and competence required of seaplane pilots”

Where you can see the Boeing 314 Clipper

Regretfully, none of the 12 Boeing Flying  Boats built between 1939-1941 survived beyond 1951.  Most were sold for scrap., some were sunk.

But the memory of these wonderful flying machines will last in our hearts through photos and the exciting stories of travel in the age of the Flying Boats.

The words  China Clipper and the Honolulu Clipper will stir our minds and hearts toward thoughts of grand adventure even while sitting in our favorite easy chair at home.

Tech Specs for the Boeing 314 Clipper

Wingspan: 152 ft 46 in

Length: 106 ft 0 in

Height: 20 ft 5 in

Weight: 48,400 lbs (empty) ;84,000 (loaded)

Max Speed: 210 mph

Cruise Speed: 188 mph

Ceiling: 19,600 ft

Range: 3,685 mi)

Engine: 4/Wright R-2600-3 twin row radial engine w/Three Bladed                                  Propeller rated at 1,600 HP

Crew: 11

Passengers: 74 daytime; 36 nighttime (may vary depending on aircraft)


North American A-36 Apache


North American Aircraft produced a relatively unknown ground attack and dive bomber called the Invader or A-36 during World War II. This was a brother to the North American P-51 Mustang however it had rectangular, slatted dive brakes above and below the wing.

It served from 1942-1944 in North Africa, Mediterranean, Italy and the China-Burma-India theaters.

North American built 500 of the A-36 Apache which were used by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) which were retired in 1945.

Continue reading “North American A-36 Apache”

The de Havilland Mosquito, Night Fighter


The de Havilland Mosquito was an all wooden framed  twin engined aircraft built primarily in England  during World War II.  It’s  roles were varied.  It was used as a Light Bomber, Fighter-bomber, Night Fighter, Maritime Strike Aircraft and Photo Recon Aircraft.

It was also adapted through various variants for day time low to Medium altitude tactical Bomber, and Pathfinder.  The British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) used the Mosquito as a high speed flying between England and neutral countries, sometimes through enemy airspace, with high value cargoes.

They could carry one passenger, seated in the “bomb bay”.  I wouldn’t t think this would offer much of a view. unless the bomb bay doors were opened, then the thrill of a lifetime for a few minutes.

In 1941, the first of many Mosquito variants were produced.  The Mosquito was the fastest operational aircraft in the world at that time.   It’s first role was an unarmed high-speed photo-recon aircraft.  The first Mosquito bomber entered  Royal Air Force (RAF) in November of 1941.

The Mosquito saw service from mid 1942-to Mid-1943 in missions against factories, railways and other strategic targets in Germany.  In June of 1943, they were formed into a unit called the Light Night Strike Force as pathfinders for the “Heavies” such as Lancasters.

The Mosquito could deliver a 4,000 “block buster bomb” to a designed target.  Their role as a night fighter started in in 1942, as they intercepted Luftwaffe raids over England.   The very versatile Mosquito was also used as a “strike aircraft” in preparation for “D-Day” also known as Operation Overlord in 1944.

The Mosquito flew with the RAF, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Army Air Force.  There were 7,731 (all models and variants) produced from 1940-1950.

Continue reading “The de Havilland Mosquito, Night Fighter”

The P-61 Black Widow by Northrop


Northrop aircraft designed the first operational night fighter called the P-61 Black Widow.  It was an all metal, twin-engine, twin-tailed aircraft developed during World War II with a crew of 3. It had four forward firing 20mm Hispano M2  cannons mounted in the lower fuselage and four 50 cal M2 Browning machine guns in a remote dorsal gun turret.

The crew consisted of pilot, gunner and an radar operator.  Although not produced in large numbers, the Black Widows were an effective night fighter used by the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in the European Theater, Pacific Theater, the China-Burma Theater and the Mediterranean Theater.

On 14 August 1945, a P-61 (Lady in the Dark) scored the last victory of World War II (VJ Day).  When World War II ended the P-61 now designated F-61 served as a all-weather, day/night intercepter for the now called United States Air Force (USAF) until 1950.

Continue reading “The P-61 Black Widow by Northrop”

The Douglas A-20 Havoc


The Douglas A-20 Havoc was World War II light bomber attack and recon aircraft. Its users, besides the United States Army Air Force (USAAF), were Soviet Air Forces, Soviet Naval Aviation and the British Royal Air Force (RAF) which called the A-20, Boston.

It was also used by air forces of Australia, South Africa, France and the Netherlands.  Brazil  obtained the Havoc and after the War.  There 7,478 Havocs built for all users .

Design and Development

Donald Douglas, in March of 1937, led a design team that included Ed Heinmann and Jack Northrop that designed a new light bomber that was to be powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney R-985 Wasp-Junior radial engines rated at 450 hp each.

However another design model very similar being used in the Spanish Civil War indicated the proposed aircraft  Model 7A as Douglas named it, was extremely underpowered and could carry very little if any ordnance.

Donald Douglas, in response to a USAAF request for a attack aircraft, placed Ed Heinmann as head of the design team replaced the R-985 with Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines and now called Model DB-7B for the USAAF proposal.  Competition for this bid was strong, with North American NA-40, Stearman X-100 and Martin 167F.  Although the DB-7B was very maneuverable and fast, the USAAF did not place any orders with Douglas.

However the French Purchasing Commission  who were in the country looking for American armament of various types, were attracted to the DB-7B.    The “Munich Crisis” was in progress and the French wanted new weapons to counter the German aggression and they  ordered 270 DB-7s.

Although DB-7 aircraft were not the fastest or as long-ranged as some other aircraft in this class (light bomber), it was rugged and dependable with good speed and maneuverability.

One of Britain’s RAF test pilots, said “The Boston has no vices, very easy to take off and land…The aeroplane represents a definite advantage in the design of flying controls, extremely pleasant to fly and maneuver.  Former Boston pilots found it their favorite aircraft of the war dut the ability to toss it around like a fighter.  The Boston bomber/night fighter was found to be extremely adaptable and found a role in every combat theater of the ar, and excelled as a true ‘ pilots aeroplane’.”

The DB-7 series ended on 20 September 1944 with a total of 7,098 had been built by Douglas and another 380 by Boeing.  The Douglas ability to mas produce aircraft, when the Havoc production was over, the Santa Monica, California plant was quickly re-designed and refurbished and immediately started producing the A-20 Havoc series for the USAAF.

The plant itself was only 700 feet long but by looping back this made the assembly a mile long.  Manhours were reduced 50% for some areas of operation and production efficiency was increased.

Operational History


The French had ordered 270 DB-7s (Douglas Bomber 7) variant as they wanted to modify the aircraft with their machine guns and instruments.  They started out with the Pratt and Whitney R-1830–SC3-G radial engine,  rated at 1,000 hp.  Later tt was changed to the Pratt and Whitney R-1830-S3C-G radial engine rated at 1,100 hp.  The fuselage was narrower and deeper.

The DB-7s were shipped to Casablanca in North Africa for asembly and sent to France.  When the germans attacked France in May of 1940,the 64 available of the DB-7s were used against the Germans.

After the fall of France, the remaining DB-7s went to North africa but fell under the control of the Vichy French.  They were used against the Allied invasion of French North Africa.  After French (Vichy) forces sided with the Allies, the remaining French DB-7s were used as trainers.

Great Britian (RAF)

The RAF bought the undeliverable DB-7s as France had fallen to the Germans.  The Bostons as the RAF renamed them saw action in the Mediterranean and North Africa.  During and after the “Battle of Britain” the Boston II were used as night fighters with 8 /30 cal machine guns in the wings..

Some were used as “Turinlite aircraft where the aircraft had been fitted with a powerful searchlight in the nose of the aircraft.  The Boston would be directed by a radar operator on the ground in the proximity of an enemy on a bombing or escort run at night.  The pilot of the Boston would turn on the searchlite on the enemy aircraft and the Boston’s escorting RAF aircraft would attack the blinded enemy.  This practice discontinued in early 1943.

United States Army Air Force

In the 1930s, the United States Army Air Corp (USAAC) was reluctant to pursue any purchases of the A-20.  When they saw the improved versions and variants sold to the French and RAF, they became more interested.  The USAAC was interested in two versions, the A-20 for high altitude bombing and the A-20A for medium and low level bombing.

Over all USAAC ordered over 1,000 A-20s of different models with about 600 going to the USSR in the lease-lend deal..  The USAAC received 356 A-20s that wereorginally bought by France but could no longer be delivered because the German take over of France.


In 1942 the first operational unit that saw combat was the 89th Bombardment Squadron that served in New Guinea.    It was found that Japanese air defenses in the South Pacific were not nearly as deadly as the German air defences in Europe.

There wasn’t any need for a Bombardier in the aircraft and extra machine guns were mounted on the nose  giving them devastating fire power at low altitude.  The low level attack would wipe out ground targets  like aircraft and hangers, and supply dumps.  On the ocean the forward gun power was so devastating against the bombs could be literally skipped against supply ships an destroyers.

Europe and Mediteranean 

In July of 1942, the first USAAF “Boston” squardonron manned RAF A-20s in the first combat by American forces in theat type of aircraft.  They saw service in North Africa, Italy and Corsica France.

It was found the the German air defenses were, especially flak, caused high loses at low altitude, thus medium level bombing was adopted.  In 1944 the Havoc begin recon sorties until the end of the war, as more advanced fighter bombers took over their manin chore.

Where you can see the Douglas A-20 Havoc

#41-19393 Wings Museum Balcombe, England

#43-21709  Lewis Air Legends San Antonio,

#43-22200 National Museum if the United State air Force Dayton, Ohio

#4321627 Pima Air and Space Museum Tucson, Arizona

Tech Specs for the A-20 Havoc

Wingspan: 61 ft 4 in

Length: 47 ft 8 in

Height: 17 ft 7 in

Weight: 16,693 lbs (empty) 24,127 lbs (MGTOW)

Max Speed: 317 mph

Ceiling: 23,700 ft

Range: 945mi (combat)

Engine: 2/Wright R-2600-23  Twin Cyclone radial rated 1,600 HP

Crew: 3



The Grumman A-6 Intruder


The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an all-weather medium attack aircraft used by the United States Marine Corp (USMC) and United States Navy (USN). The Intruder was a replacement for the piston driven Douglas A-1 Skyraideer.

When the A-6 was scheduled for replacement, the strike mission was taken over by the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The first A-6 flight was on 19 April 1960. The USN retired the last active Intruder on 28 February 1997. Grumman Aircraft built 693 A-6 Intruders.

Continue reading “The Grumman A-6 Intruder”

The Grumman TBF/TBM Avenger


The Grumman TBF or TBM Avenger is a torpedo bomber developed for the United States Navy (USN) in the early forties. It became one of the outstanding torpedo bombers of World War II.

First of all is it a TBF or a TBM? That depends on who built it? Grumman Aircraft Company initially produced the TBF. Grumman was unable to produce as many as the USN needed because of limited factory production and priorities. The government ask General Motors to help out, thus the TBM. “M” designed for General Motors The TBF and the TBM are the same only the last letter determined where and by whom it was manufactured

The TBF will identify the aircraft in this essay. The TBF had its combat debut in the “Battle of Midway” where 5 out 0f 6 were lost, but greatly improved with both in aircraft improvements and pilot skills

Future President George H.W. Bush as pilot in TBF

President-to-be George Bush Sr. flew a TBM in the South Pacific and was shot down near the Japanese held island of Chichi Jima as his final act before going into the ocean was to bomb the radio facilities on the island. He was rescued by the American submarine Finback. 

Hollywood Actor Paul Newman was a rear gunner on an TBF and was on the USS Hollandia which was about 500 miles from the Japanese city of Hiroshima when the first Atomic Bomb from the Enola Gay was dropped.

There were 9,839 TBFs produced during the War. and used by USN, Royal Navy Royal Canadian Navy and Royal New Zealand Air Force

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Douglas A-1 Skyraider


The Douglas A-1 Skyraider is a single seat attack fighter that was called the AD at one time. It served in the military from the saw service in 1946 and was formerly retired in 1985. It saw service in the United States Navy (USN), United States Air Force (USAF), the British Royal Navy, the French Air Force and the Republic of Vietnam Air Force.

It remained in the United States service until the 1970s until replaced by the Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II.

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PBY Catalina Flying Boat

The Consolidated PBY Flying Boat


The PBY American flying boat built by Consolidated Aircraft company was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. The PBY nickname was the Catalina and the PBY was used by all branches of the United States armed forces.

During the Second World War, the Catalina was used for anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, air-sea rescue missions and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind and was not retired by the military users until 1979 by the Brazilian Air Force .

The United States Navy (USN) was the biggest user of the flying boat and the first. Thus, the USN designation system determined the name. “PB”was for Patrol Bomber, the third letter assigned by USN to the manufacturer of the aircraft was “Y”. In this case it was Consolidated Aircraft .

Since there were other manufacturers assigned to build the Catalina, different “names” such Canadian Vickers were PBV, Boeing Canada PB2B (Boeing in the U. S was already building Catalina with the code PBB).

The traditional names for the Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft were normally names of towns/cities in England. When the RAF purchased PBY’s, they broke tradition and named their aircraft Catalina, after Catalina Island in California which the USN adopted in 1942.

The PBY was originally designed to be a Patrol Bomber that would attack enemy supply ships. However, it soon became apparent that they were an ideal air-sea rescue for downed airmen.

In addition, they could be used as a recon aircraft as they could fly for many hours without the need for refueling. The Catalina first flight was on 28 March 1935. The primary users were USN, USAAF (United States Army Air Force),and RAF. The total production by Consolidated Aircraft, Canadian Manufacturers and Soviet Manufacture was 3,305 aircraft.

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