A Cat among the Pigeons

Consolidated PBY Catalina @ WIngs Over Miami Car Show 2014
Consolidated PBY Catalina @ WIngs Over Miami Car Show 2014

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was a World War Two era flying boat used by the Allies for maritime patrol, search and rescue, laying mines and anti-submarine warfare. Between 1936-1945 over 3,300 Catalina’s were manufactured. A number of US Navy squadrons had PBY’s painted in a matt black paint scheme that were specially equipped for night-time operations against Japanese convoys. The “Black Cats” proved to be very successful and between August 1943 to January 1944 they sank 112,700 tons of Japanese merchant shipping. The Royal Australian Air Force also operated “Black Cats” for night-time mine laying operations from April 1943 to July 1945 to bottle up Japanese ports and divert their ships into waters where Allied submarines lurked in waiting. The last PBY was retired by the US Navy in 1957 (the RAAF retired theirs in 1952). This particular example painted up in US Navy markings at Wings Over Miami in Florida found itself in a rather unusual setting during their annual car show this year.

Consolidated PBY Catalina Wings Over Miami
An interesting mix of vehicles sat under the wings of the “Black Cat”

Note: This PBY-5 is actually a “Super Cat” variant that was modified in the 1960’s. All the military equipment was removed and the original Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp 1,200 hp radial engines were replaced with more powerful Wright Cyclone R-2600 1,700 hp engines. To accommodate the extra power the tail was also modified to provide better control. You can read more about the history of the aircraft here.

2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines of the Catalina
On this “Super Cat” variant the original 2 × Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines were replaced with Wright Cyclone R-2600 1,700 hp engines
Catalina Wings over miami
Super Cat!


6 thoughts on “A Cat among the Pigeons

  1. Deano! I’m so glad the Super Cat was there — it appears my source which said it was moving to Texas was incorrect! This Catalina has been heavily modified from its original manufacture. If you like you can read what I found in my blog by typing “Super Cat” in the search box. Thanks for presenting this post — it is hard to pass up the Catalina! Joe


  2. More than welcome 🙂 I had forgotten that when I first saw her I thought it was a PBY-6A due to the size and shape of the vertical fin. The registration shows it as a PBY-5A, though, so I researched and found the info you read in an nicely done article 🙂 The owner passed away several years ago and a situation of ownership arose so it has been at the museum physically while in receivership legally ever since. I often either see people working on her or see improvements have been made since my last visit so she seems to be far from forgotten or uncared for.


    1. Yes I noted the changes from your posts. They keep the canopy and nacelles covered and apart from some wear and tear to the paint job it seems like it is in good condition. The nearby memorial to Cuban aviators from the Bay of Pigs was good to see too


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