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Hugh Thomson

Saunders Roe - converting Catalinas?

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I have been doing some research on the small number of PBY-5A Catalina aircraft that were taken on by the RAF. Only 12 of the amphibian version - called the Catalina IIIA - were acquired. I have obtained the Aircraft Movement Card for Catalina IIIA FP536 - which shows the various units which took this particular aircraft on charge.

 

What is interesting is that in the Aircraft Movement Card the 'A' in 'Catalina IIIA' under the heading 'Type' has been struck out and there is a note which reads "Conversion to flying boat Beaumaris SRoe 14.5.43". I know Saunders Roe had a facility at Beaumaris which modified Catalinas for RAF service. But this sounds as if FP536 was converted to a pure flying boat i.e. the undercarriage was removed.

 

Has anyone every heard of this conversion?

 

Just by way of background it looks like FP536 was written off (Category E) in 1944 when it was with 131 Operational Training Unit.

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Posted (edited)

Yes the Australians did it as well. I don't remember exactly why but there are a couple of members here that can give you a better explanation. Maybe @Graham Boak or @Magpie22 would have a better handle on it ? 

 

Dennis

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle

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With the RAAF ones it was a weight saving measure. Without the weight of the removed under carraige they had a longer range for far ranging missions.

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Posted (edited)

Yes.  If you don't have any intention of operating them off land, then if you delete the undercarriage and associated retraction mechanisms, the structure to take the concentrated loads, and the waterproofing arrangements for it all, you gain a reduction of something like a ton and a half off the empty weight.  The PBY-5a is generally quoted at about 21,000 lb empty, Accurate empty weights for the non-amphibian 4 (the highest performing production PBY) and 5 (better equipped, and very similar to the 5a apart from the undercarriage) are harder to find but I've seen numbers quoted in the region of 17,000 lb to 17,500 lb in military configuration.  All of the weight you save is then available for useful load:  any combination of fuel, ordnance, people or anything else you want to carry.

 

There's a lovely advert for the civilian version of the 4 here -

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1939/1939 - 0434.html

- which claims an empty weight (no military equipment) of just 13,450 lb, which is possibly a bit of a marketing porky - I've literally never flown an aeroplane which has a measured empty weight as low as the brochure weight - but even so shows the quality of a basic design which in PBY-5a form has a 'book' max gross of 28,000 lb normally, 35,420 lb in wartime service, and which was flown even heavier than that on occasions.

 

Edited by Work In Progress

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Thankyou everyone for your comments.

 

I had intended to build a 1/72 scale model of FP536 as a Catalina IIIA (i.e. PBY-5A) of 131 OTU. This was consistent with a recent 'Warpaint' profile and a much older Airfix Painting Guide (1990s). Based on the Aircraft Movement Card it seems that FP536 went to 131 OTU in March 1943 (after service with 210 and 330 Squadrons) was passed to Saunders Roe in May 1943 and returned to 131 OTU in September 1943.

 

Do I now complete FP536 as a PBY-5A/Catalina MkIIIA of 131 OTU - given the small window in which she may have been present in that unit as an amphibian? Or should my PBY-5A be finished as a fairly anonymous US Navy example or perhaps an early Catalina IIIA of 330 Squadron in 1942?

 

Will have to think about this. My instincts are to go with 330 Squadron (using the DK decals for such an aircraft).

 

The RAF Museum was kind enough to locate the Aircraft Movement Card for FP536 and send me a copy as a pdf.  But I don't think I can post a copy of a pdf. I have asked the Museum if they have a photo of FP536 in their collection - you never know. 

 

 

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If you wanted one with roundels the RAAF operated them in the ASR role in 113 Flight and 8 CU. Easy paint job too - overall Foliage Green.

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The amphibious cats operated by 331 Sqn were delivered in standard US Navy scheme of Blue Gray uppers and Light Gray undersurfaces. The RAF roundels were superimposed on the US stars.

Getting paints for repairs were difficult to obtain in Iceland.

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13 hours ago, Ed Russell said:

If you wanted one with roundels the RAAF operated them in the ASR role in 113 Flight and 8 CU. Easy paint job too - overall Foliage Green.

Yes. That is on my list. I've the DK decals set for RAF and Commonwealth Catalinas and a foliage green RAAF ASR PBY-5A is next on my list. Never understood why the RAAF painted an ASR aircraft foliage green - doesn't make much sense to me.

 

I've two Academy PBY-5As in my stash and one is earmarked for the RAAF and another for 321(Dutch) Squadron in Ceylon, 1942.

 

At the moment I am seeing what I can do with the old Airfix PBY-5A (which is quite a bit younger than me to be honest) and I'm now awaiting a white metal undercarriage and brass machine gun barrels from Hannants and ebay respectively.  It will never be as good as the Academy kit but I quite enjoy the exercise - add to which working with an old kit helps build my rather mediocre skills. 

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6 minutes ago, Hugh Thomson said:

Never understood why the RAAF painted an ASR aircraft foliage green - doesn't make much sense to me.

Only because overall FG was the standard finish for transports and other "second-line" aircraft at that time. The units doing ASR work were all purpose organisations and seem to have operated a mixed bag of light planes like Tiger Moths,  combat aircraft like Vengeances  and  Boomerangs etc as well as a Catalina or two, all painted FG. Just one unit would make a varied but thematic collection of models.

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26 minutes ago, Ed Russell said:

Only because overall FG was the standard finish for transports and other "second-line" aircraft at that time. The units doing ASR work were all purpose organisations and seem to have operated a mixed bag of light planes like Tiger Moths,  combat aircraft like Vengeances  and  Boomerangs etc as well as a Catalina or two, all painted FG. Just one unit would make a varied but thematic collection of models.

My brother and I have dropped down to see the old  RAAF flying boat base at Rathmines, off Lake Macquarie, and a RAAF PBY-5 Catalina is also planned.

 

One question - I think some time back Academy released their PBY-5A in Oz with RAAF markings. Do you know if these markings are for a foliage green ASR example? 

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Just FYI the RAF Museum has sent me three photos of FP536. All taken in April 1942 and its 99.9% certain (as far as I am concerned) that she is in a USN blue grey/neutral grey finish with the fuselage roundel painted on the nose (presumably over the US star). Interestingly there is an enlarged red/white/blue flash on the rudder (not the fin).

 

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4 hours ago, Hugh Thomson said:

One question - I think some time back Academy released their PBY-5A in Oz with RAAF markings. Do you know if these markings are for a foliage green ASR example? 

No, unfortunately. See here for a link to the instructions of that particular boxing:

 

https://www.scalemates.com/kits/academy-12487-pby-5a-black-cat--1008944

 

Decals are for two Australian Catalinas - one allover black and one natural metal.

 

Cheers,

 

Andee

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As @Hook says, the decals are those put in by the one-time local Academy distributor. However a green Catalina is in our plans for  future releases.

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