37¢ PBY Catalina
American Advances in Aviation
Issue Date: July 29, 2005
City: Oshkosh, WI
Printed By: Ashton-Potter (USA) Ltd
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10.75 x 10.5
Consolidated Aircraft introduced the PBY Catalina, a durable, long-range flying-boat, in 1936. About 4,000 Catalinas, more than any other floatplane, were built for the U.S. Navy and U.S. allies between 1936 and 1945.
Consolidated continually improved the PBY. They put transparent domes on the waist-gun positions for better viewing. Retractable, tricycle landing gear was added to make the plane amphibian. Other upgrades included optical bomb- and gun-sights and radar.
During World War II, a “Black Cat Squadron” of black-painted Cats flew night bombing missions against Japanese shipping in the Pacific. Equipped with radar and radio altimeters, they skimmed the dark surface of the ocean. Their large size, an easy target in daylight, enabled them to carry great quantities of weapons and sufficient fuel to fly deep into enemy-controlled territory. PBY Catalinas seriously disrupted the flow of Japanese military supplies and personnel to island bases.
By day, Black Cats flew perilous rescue missions, picking up air crews shot down in the sea. The code name for these operations was “Dumbo,” for the big-eared, flying elephant of the Disney feature film. After the war, PBY Catalinas continued to serve as search-and-rescue planes in several countries for many more years.