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Catalina IIIA FP536 131 OTU - colours?


Hugh Thomson
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I am going to start building a model of the PBY-5A Catalina and I would like the aircraft to be in RAF markings. Based on my research I understand only 14 or so PBY-5As were acquired by the RAF where they were known as the Catalina IIIA. So far I have seen two photos of a Catalina IIIAs in RAF service - both looked like they were in delivery markings of USN intermediate blue and light grey (the roundel was of the pre-July 1942 with the wide yellow ring).

 

However the old Airfix PBY-5A was issued at one point in time with markings for Catalina IIIA FP536 of 131 OTU, the aircraft wearing a scheme of what seems to be dark slate grey (DSG) and extra dark sea grey (EDSG) upper surfaces and sky undersurfaces (with the dividing line running along the lower part of the hull).  I rather like the idea of using a DSG/EDSG scheme instead of the USN markings (I can use the DK decal set to build a 333 or 321 Squadron PBY-5A in USN colours).

 

A bit of surfing the internet suggests that a number of Catalina IIIAs were used by 131 OTU but I cannot see any photos of  these aircraft wearing a DSG/EDSG scheme. It would make sense of course if the IIIAs were painted in these colours but I am trying to get some sort of confirmation.

 

Does anyone have any evidence i.e. a copy of a photo in a bok, which confirms that Catalina IIIAs were in DSG/EDSG?

 

I am not a rivet counter but its mortifying when you find that you have used completely the wrong colours/markings (I mean not a shade wrong - but completely).  The model then feels like a failure.

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  • 2 years later...
Posted (edited)

Hugh,

 

I am contemplating building the Academy 1/72 PBY-5A AND 1/72 Airfix PBY-5A and wanted to finish one as an RAAF 'Black Cat' and the other as one of the 18 RAF Catalina IIIs (or maybe a Canadian Canso in Coastal Command scheme). I have been searching the internet and britmodeller and other forums over the last few days and have found much interesting info on the amphibian variant of the Catalina as used by Commonwealth AFs during WW2.  I notice your thread concerns mostly 131 OTU, so I guess a 330 Sqn RAF/Norwegian Cat was not your main choice?

 

Did you end up completing this kit, and if so, which scheme did you choose? 

 

Jason

Edited by P-3s rule
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330 (Norwegian) Squadron operated a number of the Catalina Mk.IIIAs while based in Iceland during WWII. Photos show that these were painted in the standard USN camouflage.

 

Nils

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Posted (edited)

Does this help in any way?

Mike

 

https://cockpitrevolution.ecwid.com/Consolidated-PBY-Catalina-Mk-IIIA-p196320538

 

FP529 arriving at Prestwick from  the U.S. I am guessing the markings were factory applied and appears to be painted in blue-grey/light gull grey overall; guessing scheme and markings were both changed after the ferry flight?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Aircraft_in_Royal_Air_Force_Service_1939-1945-_Consolidated_Model_28_Catalina._CH5948.jpg

 

Excerpted from a discussion on Catalina IIIA's on the Airfix/com community forum- no colors info but interesting that FP536 was converted back to flying boat configuration! (Did some sleuthing- evidently converting a -5A back to a 5 was fairly commonly done.)

 

Just FYI I have obtained a copy of the Aircraft Movement Card for FP536 from the RAF Museum. This confirms that FP536 was with 131 OTU from September 1943 to early 1944 (the exact date is indistinct) when it was written off (Catageory E1).

The curious thing is that the form also states "Conversion to flying boat Beaumaris SRoe 14.5.43". and the 'A' in "Catalian IIIA" under 'Type' has been struck out.

Saunders Roe seems to have had a facility at Beaumaris for modifying Catalinas for RAF service. But it sounds like they converted FP536 from an amphibian to a pure flying boat i.e. they removed the undercarriage. 

That is the first I've ever heard of converting Catalina amphibians to pure flying boats and I'm making enuiries elesewhere.

Meanwhile my Airfix Catalina is awaiting a few detailed parts from Hannants and ebay - some brass barrels for the machine guns and a metal undercarriage. I had decided to plough on and build FP536 as an amphibian in the original Airfix markings for 131 OTU but this development has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works.

 

There was evidently a Catalina IIIA from No. 131 OTU posted on November 7, 2009 in the RFI section- you might look for it. Since he;s done several PBY-5 models, perhaps @tonyot might be able to help?

 

I'm not much help, I'm afraid!

Mike

 

 

Edited by 72modeler
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Posted (edited)
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I am contemplating building the Academy 1/72 PBY-5A AND 1/72 Airfix PBY-5A and wanted to finish one as an RAAF 'Black Cat' and the other as one of the 18 RAF Catalina IIIs (or maybe a Canadian Canso in Coastal Command scheme).

Hugh, you mentioned that you were open to doing an RCAF Canso A (PBY-5A)?   Aviaeology does a full 72nd sheet on RCAF Canso A (PBY-5A) covering the sub-killers from 162 (BR) Squadron ... all in RAF Coastal Command schemes. 

 

Scott

Edited by Scott Hemsley
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16 hours ago, P-3s rule said:

Hugh,

 

I am contemplating building the Academy 1/72 PBY-5A AND 1/72 Airfix PBY-5A and wanted to finish one as an RAAF 'Black Cat' and the other as one of the 18 RAF Catalina IIIs (or maybe a Canadian Canso in Coastal Command scheme). I have been searching the internet and britmodeller and other forums over the last few days and have found much interesting info on the amphibian variant of the Catalina as used by Commonwealth AFs during WW2.  I notice your thread concerns mostly 131 OTU, so I guess a 330 Sqn RAF/Norwegian Cat was not your main choice?

 

Did you end up completing this kit, and if so, which scheme did you choose? 

 

Jason

Hi Jason,

 

I ended up doing PBY5A/Catalina MkIIIA FP536 in service with 131 OTU in 1943, with an EDSG and DSG uppersurface.

 

The photos of FP536 in the RAF Museum seemed to confirm that FP536 was at least initially delivered in 1942 in standard USN colours with some oddly placed national markings (that must have been done in the US as they are so inconsistent with RAF practice e.g. the fin flash was placed on the rudder).  The few photos I found of other PBY5As in service with the RAF - where it was known as the Catalina MkIIIA -  in 1942 all seemed to point to the aircraft being then finished in USN colours. 

 

However it seemed logical to me that after over a year in service the aircraft would have been repainted in RAF EDSG and DSG.  The Airfix model of the PBY5A/Catalina MkIIIA issued in the 1970s included this option while the Hall Park book on the Catalina has a coloured profile of FP536 in exactly this finish. However I admit that I have not obtained any other confirmation of the aircraft's 1943 appearance.

 

I used the old Airfix kit for this purpose - I remember building this kit as a young boy in about 1970 and I wondered how it would build now.  Not a good choice - I suggest you stay with the Academy kit. I've sanded off the rivets, built an interior and battled with various fit issues. So FP536 is still not finished  - though to be honest I'm a slow modeller as I have other commitments and there were times when I regretted my decision and the kit was put to one side. Anyway she is now in the paint shop but I doubt whether she will be finished for another couple of months (life is going to interfere yet again and my presence will be required elsewhere for a few weeks).

 

Way back when I started this I was originally going to build a white RCAF Canso. However research showed me that these aircraft were equipped with radar when very early in service and this involved a whole host of radar aerials including some 'towel rail' types on the side of the fuselage, all of which were well beyond my scraatch building skills. Add to which the old Airfix kit I bought on ebay was issued in black plastic which would make a white finish very difficult. Mind the Academy PBY5A suffers from the same problem i.e. its finished in black plastic. At that point I began to look at other alternatives.

 

I didn't want to do a Catalina in service with 330 (Norwegian) Squadron. These aircraft appear to have been operated in USN colours and I wanted my aircraft in to look a little more different and 'British' (I've nothing against the Norwegians).

 

If you are going to try for an Australian Catalina try and get the DK Decals set for RAF and Commonwealth Catalinas or another DK Decals set for the Catalinas used by QANTAS during the war for the long and safe roundabout route from Western Australia across the Indian Ocena to Ceylon - might be difficult in the case of the former as they are no longer in print but Hannants has copies of the latter in stock. The RAF and Commonwealth set includes markings for a PBY5A/Catalina MkIIIA in service with 330 (Nowegian) Squadron or 321 (Dutch) Squadron in 1942 (the 321 Squadron aircraft were ex-Dutch East Indies machines, the squadron operating out of Ceylon doing a lot of work in particular for SOE in Asia ) both of which are in standard USN colours. But the set also includes an all over foliage green PBY5A used by the RAAF in the air sea rescue role out of Cairns in 1944/45. In fact I have this set and a foliage green RAAF PBY5A is on my 'to do'' list using an Academy PBY5A in my stash. 

 

If you go to the site:

 

adf-serials.com.au

 

you will see the serials for all RAAF Catalinas with photos of each aircraft where available. Imterestingly you will find that although many Catalinas are listed as being PBY5A amphibian types, the photos shown for these aircraft appear to indicate a PBY5 type i.e. a pure flying boat. My information is that the RAAF coverted many PBY5As to PBY5 standard i.e. they removed the undercarriage, thereby lightening the weight and improving the performance with ability to carry greater fuel (thereby offereing greater range).

 

Sorry for the long email. I'm out all tomorrow so tried to get this done tonight though after a good meal at a little local restaurant I'm not the sharpest pencil in the box.

 

Regards and best of luck.

 

Hugh

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Vingtor said:

330 (Norwegian) Squadron operated a number of the Catalina Mk.IIIAs while based in Iceland during WWII. Photos show that these were painted in the standard USN camouflage.

 

Nils

Nils,

 

Thanks for your input.

 

Yes. Got that.  I have a USN PBY5A and didnt want another aircraft in the same finish.  There is some indication that the RAF may have repainted at least one PBY5A/Catalina MkIIIA (FP536) in extra dark sea grey and dark slate grey in 1943 so I went for this option (with my fingers crossed).

 

REgards

 

Hugh

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Jason, RAAF PBY-5A's were not used in the mine laying "Black cat" role , PBY-5A's used in WW2 as ASR role as their range was too short for mine laying , most converted to PBY-5A(M) spec (ie , converted back to flying boats) with undercarrige removed to lighten them for the mine laying role , most RAAF PBY-5A's converted to the (M) spec.

Of interest the un modded PBY-5A's were the model kept after the war as they were the most utility/multi role being Amphibians , almost all the pure flying boats were retired quickly after the war.

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7 hours ago, 72modeler said:

Does this help in any way?

Mike

 

https://cockpitrevolution.ecwid.com/Consolidated-PBY-Catalina-Mk-IIIA-p196320538

 

FP529 arriving at Prestwick from  the U.S. I am guessing the markings were factory applied and appears to be painted in blue-grey/light gull grey overall; guessing scheme and markings were both changed after the ferry flight?

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:American_Aircraft_in_Royal_Air_Force_Service_1939-1945-_Consolidated_Model_28_Catalina._CH5948.jpg

 

Excerpted from a discussion on Catalina IIIA's on the Airfix/com community forum- no colors info but interesting that FP536 was converted back to flying boat configuration! (Did some sleuthing- evidently converting a -5A back to a 5 was fairly commonly done.)

 

Just FYI I have obtained a copy of the Aircraft Movement Card for FP536 from the RAF Museum. This confirms that FP536 was with 131 OTU from September 1943 to early 1944 (the exact date is indistinct) when it was written off (Catageory E1).

The curious thing is that the form also states "Conversion to flying boat Beaumaris SRoe 14.5.43". and the 'A' in "Catalian IIIA" under 'Type' has been struck out.

Saunders Roe seems to have had a facility at Beaumaris for modifying Catalinas for RAF service. But it sounds like they converted FP536 from an amphibian to a pure flying boat i.e. they removed the undercarriage. 

That is the first I've ever heard of converting Catalina amphibians to pure flying boats and I'm making enuiries elesewhere.

Meanwhile my Airfix Catalina is awaiting a few detailed parts from Hannants and ebay - some brass barrels for the machine guns and a metal undercarriage. I had decided to plough on and build FP536 as an amphibian in the original Airfix markings for 131 OTU but this development has thrown a bit of a spanner in the works.

 

There was evidently a Catalina IIIA from No. 131 OTU posted on November 7, 2009 in the RFI section- you might look for it. Since he;s done several PBY-5 models, perhaps @tonyot might be able to help?

 

I'm not much help, I'm afraid!

Mike

 

 

Hi Mike.

 

My Catalina IIIA FP536 is now in the paint shop with an EDSG and DSG uppersurface so the die is cast. With the benefit of hindsight I should not have tried doing this using an old Airfix PBY5A - its been a very slow process not only in building a new interior, sanding off the rivets and dealing with fit issues but also loss of motive, a sense of what's the point plus other commitments and life generally. I admit that there are always other kits to do which don't offer quite such a challenge so its easy to get diverted.

 

Some Australian contacts suggested that the RAAF converted PBY5As to PBY5 standard and if you look at the adf-serials.com.au site you will see photos of a number of aircraft that are said to be PBY5As but rather more resemble a PBY5 i.e. there is no sign of an undercarriage. Apparently, it was all about getting rid of unnecessary weight - the RAAF didn't need the undercarriage and with no undercarriage there was an opportunity to improve performance, in particular increasing the range.

 

I must admit that I rather enjoy these little problems. Working out why an aircraft is as it is can be more interesting than building the kit.

 

Regards

 

Hugh

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3 hours ago, Scott Hemsley said:

Hugh, you mentioned that you were open to doing an RCAF Canso A (PBY-5A)?   Aviaeology does a full 72nd sheet on RCAF Canso A (PBY-5A) covering the sub-killers from 162 (BR) Squadron ... all in RAF Coastal Command schemes. 

 

Scott

Hi Scott,

 

Thanks for your suggestion.

 

I looked at the Aviaeoology set for my PBY5A but (a) the kit is in black plastic so building a white Canso would have been quite a challenge; and (b) Cansos seem to have operated with a profusion of radar aerials all of which I would need to scratch build and I just don't have those skills (in particular to do the towel rail aerials on the fuselage sides).

 

But I do have two Revell PBY5 kits so a Catalina MkI with 413 or 422 Squadrons using the Aviaeology set is definitely on the cards.

 

Regards

 

Hugh

 

Hugh 

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9 hours ago, Hugh Thomson said:

Nils,

 

Thanks for your input.

 

Yes. Got that.  I have a USN PBY5A and didnt want another aircraft in the same finish.  There is some indication that the RAF may have repainted at least one PBY5A/Catalina MkIIIA (FP536) in extra dark sea grey and dark slate grey in 1943 so I went for this option (with my fingers crossed).

 

REgards

 

Hugh

 

Quite understandable.... 👍

I would not use a profile drawing in the Warpaint booklet as only "evidence", though. These drawings are packed with errors. The earlier titles, with David Howley as house artist, were much more reliable.

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RAAF Branch of the Air Member for Engineeering and Maintenance.  Directorate of Technical Services.

 

Serial No. 206 week ending 5 January 1944.
An inspection of the Catalina Model PBY.5A Amphibian was made at 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot in order that the variations from the normal PBY.5 could be definitely ascertained and plans made to convert the PBY.5A as far as possible to the PBY.5 model.

 

Serial No. 214 week ending 2 March 1944.

1 Flying Boat Repair Depot has been advised to restrict the prototype conversion of PBY-5A aircraft to 5 machines.  This prototype modification was for the permanent sealing of nose and main wheel wells.  Subsequent aircraft will have the Saunders-Roe modification incorporated.  This modification gives adequate blanking off of the wheel wells but allows easy conversion to the amphibious type if required.


Serial No. 218 week ending 31 March 1944.
An inspection was made at 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot of PBY-5A aircraft on which the wheel wells were being blanked off.  Prototypes with both the RAAF and the Saunders-Roe modification were examined and it was decided to adopt the RAAF modification.  This decision was made on the grounds that it is practically impossible to make and keep the wheel wells water tight with the Saunders-Roe modifications with the result that water would be shipped during take off.

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9 hours ago, Vingtor said:

 

Quite understandable.... 👍

I would not use a profile drawing in the Warpaint booklet as only "evidence", though. These drawings are packed with errors. The earlier titles, with David Howley as house artist, were much more reliable.

I completely agree.  So it's fingers crossed.  Though knowing my luck someone will now produce a 1943 photo of FP536 when in service with 131 OTU which clearly shows the aircraft still in USN colours.

 

Regards

 

Hugh

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