What is Your Story
This could be the beginning of a wonderful informative column
Why is the PBY referred to as a “Catalina” by some people and a “Canso” by others? Is there a difference and if so .. what?
Let’s begin with what we know to be true
What is the difference between a Catalina (named after the Catalina Island off the coast of San Diego) and a Canso? ….There are many interesting ongoing discussions surrounding this topic and much individual forensic sleuthing. But…really.
a) Nothing, zilch, nada, Rien, ei mitään, ingenting, Ничего, Niente, Τίποτα, Niets, ekkert, kuch nahin,
nashi nai, who-ah…… Except in Canada where the difference is six days.
b) The PBY was designed and, in the beginning, built by Consolidated Aircraft Industries in the United
States of America…. True
c) The designation PBY was given this aircraft using naming conventions of the day. Thus: “P” = Patrol,
“B” = Bomber and “Y” = the aircraft Manufacturer, in this case Consolidated Aircraft Industries. ….True
d) A PBY-5 is a pure flying boat. That is to say, without conventional wheel landing gear. Lands on Water
e) A PBY-5A is the exact same aircraft as the PBY-5 except… it has conventional wheel landing gear and
can land on both the water and on land….. True
f) Generally speaking, the PBY nick name “Catalina” was given to BOTH the PBY-5 and PBY-5A …. either
pre or post delivery of the first PBY 28-5 sent to England by Consolidated in 1939….True
g) The name “Catalina” was to become synonymous with the PBY around the world from that point
So, why the confusion after all these years, even amongst the pilots and crew who flew (in) them?
Simply put, the Catalina and Canso differ only in Canada… eh!
The difference in the Catalina and Canso in Canada is but.. Six Days! … the best Canadian records to date indicates that the nick name “Catalina” was used up to December 17th 1941and by the 22nd of December 1941 the Canadian Military, by Government order, ceased using the designation PBY “Catalina” in favour of the new designation(s) “CANSO” (named after the Strait and town of Canso, Nova Scotia, Canada) for the PBY-5 pure flying boat and “CANSO A” for the PBY-5A amphibious versions built in Canada and used by the RCAF.
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