The last version of the ‘Cat’ to be developed, the PBY 6A, amphibian, was the culmination of a design associated with some of the most notable maritime air operations of the Second World War.
Initially designed to meet a pre war US Navy requirement for a new maritime patrol aircraft, the prototype PBY 1 first took to the air on 21 March 1935. Subsequently, the PBY series of flying boats and amphibians were built in greater numbers than any other aircraft of their type and used by Air Forces and civilian operators around the world.
The Royal Air Force were assigned 602 PBY 5s and gave them the name later adopted by the US Navy the Catalina. The Catalinas of RAF Coastal Command played a key role in the Battle of the Atlantic, sinking a number of German submarines. Beyond Europe, RAF and Commonwealth Catalinas patrolled the Indian and Pacific Oceans and flew in support of the Allied landings in North Africa.
Although phased out of service by the major combatants shortly after the Second World War, Catalinas continued in widespread military and civilian service for some years. Today, a small number of civilian Catalinas are used as transports and fire fighting aircraft.