by Joe Weathers; photos by Mike Bobe
These are shots of the PBY Catalina currently on display in Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola. It looks better now than the first time I saw it in 1962 when it was part of the survival display in NAS Pensacola Mainside. It shows the inside of the aircraft survival equipment and methods of rescuing shot down aviators from the water during WWII.
The Catalina had 30 cal turret gun in the bow and the interior of the craft was painted zinc chromate primer that was ubiquitous at this time. You can also see the sea anchor.
One guy would stand in turret to release the sea anchor which was used to turn the plane around into the wind and for normal mooring when not moored on to a ship
Although the framework gives the appearance of being frail, it wasn’t. It’s strength derived from the metal sheeting that was attached to it. All of the compartments had no frills water-tight doors.
Unlike regular aircraft, the PBY had a V-shaped hull. Here’s a shot of the “Drift Sight” which was used for navigation purposes (course heading).
They also dropped flairs and smoke bombs through this for marking the location of downed pilots.
If they didn’t do this, it would be hard to find the aviators again due to the swells.