USN patrol planes WWII period.

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USN patrol planes WWII period.

Berichtdoor Tandorini » 18 jan 2009, 20:12


PB4Y-1 Liberator of VPB-110, US Navy based in Devon, during the winter of 1944. Such US units provided a much-needed back-up to the Coastal Command squadrons.


Shown here in US Navy colours and markings, the Consolidated PBY-5 included retractable tricycle landing gear which considerably increased its operational flexibility and allowed on-land maintenance while retaining its water-borne capability for operations over the Pacific.


Representing a later generation of maritime patrol flying-boats than the PBY Catalina, the Martin PBM Mariner nevertheless never achieved the widespread popularity and use of its predecessor. The aircraft shown here served with US Navy Patrol Squadron VP-74 in 1942.

If glamour ever attached to fighting men there was little hut monotony in the work of the flying-boat crews of World War II. Few nations had paid heed to this class of military aeroplane in the years of peace beforehand, with the result that when war came recourse was widely made to the adaptation of ageing commercial aircraft and none of the belligerent powers produced a wholly new design from concept during the war years in time to reach production and service. As might be expected from the maritime nations, the USA, the UK and Japan possessed the most consistently successful aircraft from the outset: the Consolidated PBY Catalina, the Short Sunderland and the Kawasaki H8K 'Emily' boats respectively.

In December 1941, the Navy had three operational and three experimental flying boats. Two experimental models were soon dropped and the third was converted to a transport. Of the operational types, the PBY had been thoroughly debugged. It was small and slow but reliable and easily serviced. The amphibian PBY-5A, which was nearing service, added to the design's versatility. The PBY was the most widely used of all patrol planes. The other two flying boats encountered severe problems. Most PB2Ys were used as transports. The PBM-3's short engine life indicated that it was overloaded and much gear had to be removed. Eventually, in the PB2Y-5 and PBM-5, more powerful engines increased effectiveness.

The Catalina, of which more were produced than all other flying boats of all nations combined, came to provide the yardstick by which all maritime reconnaissance work would be measured. Yet World War II was to sound the death knell of the big 'boat' for, even as the Catalinas and Sunderlands were ranging far over the oceans, the very-long-range land-based aeroplane (exemplified by the Consolidated Liberator) was proving to be no less effective. Being more readily available and requiring none of the special base facilities of the flying-boat, this craft pointed a different path to the future, a path that has consigned these graceful 'boats' to the pages of history.

By a July 1942 agreement, the Navy obtained multiengine landplanes from the Army Air Force (AAF): the North American PBJ (AAF B-25), Consolidated PB4Y (B-24), and Lockheed PV (B-34). These came to be used more widely than flying boats; procurement totaled about 4,600 landplanes and 4,200 flying boats (including 1,350 for allies).

The landplanes were equipped for high-altitude bombing and had to be refitted as patrol planes; this required nearly as many man-hours as it did to build them. Thus, the PB4Y-2 was developed: twin rudders, the trademark of the B-24, were replaced by a single tail and the body was lengthened; fuel, guns, and radar were added; and the turbo-supercharger was removed. In a similar but less extensive redesign, the PV-1 was superseded by the PV-2 with greater wingspan and area.

Two twin-engine landplanes were developed: the Lockheed P2V began in February 1943 and the Martin P4M in July 1944. They used the largest engines available, the R-3350 in the P2V and the R-4360 in the P4M. The latter also had auxiliary J-33 jets. On October 1, 1946, a P2V completed a nonstop flight from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, showing the soundness of design and concept.

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