PBY Catalina on the Ground

The US navy first ordered the Catalina in 1933, and it first flew in 1935, soon setting flying boat distance records.   It was the British who named it "Catalina" and American forces later adopted the name as well.   The British were the first to use it in action, and it was a Catalina which found the German battleship Bismarck.

Front view of Catalina with people around

In all, 3300 Catalinas were built, making it the most successful seaplane ever produced, with improvements like the distinctive waist gunner's "blister", which was added in 1937.   Most planes had a gun turret at the front, and bombs or torpedos could be mounted on the wings.

side view of Catalina with lowered floats

The floats on the wings can be lowered or raised, and when raised they become the plane's wingtips, as shown in this photo.

Catalina with raised floats taxying on grass

The wings are mounted high above the aircraft's fuselage, in order to keep the engines as far as possible from the salt water.

closeup of Catalina taxying on runway