The Consolidated Catalina PBY flying boat is without doubt the world’s most famous amphibious aircraft ever. It was a Catalina of the RAF Coastal Command that spotted the (until then) elusive German battleship Bismarck in May 1942 what led to the destruction of the unsinkable ship.
From a staggering total of 4.051 Catalina’s produced between June 1937 and May 1945 only a handful of airworthy Catalina’s are still in flyable condition.
Being one of an order of 33 Catalina’s placed by the United States Navy in December 1939, the history of "PH-BPY" starts in the early morning of November 15 1941. Construction number 300 comes from the production line and sees daylight for the first time in her now almost 70 years.
PH-PBY started her service with the United States Navy. The U.S. Navy used the Catalina’s for protection of convoys on the Atlantic against submarines and surface ships of the Axes. The Catalina was also utilized to patrol access routes to and from harbors to protect these against enemy vessels.
During her active service with the U.S. Navy PH-PBY was responsible for sinking three Nazi submarines; the U-464, U-582 and the U-194. A fourth, the U-528, was heavily damaged! Having this in mind PH-PBY is not only the oldest surviving flyable Catalina but also the most successful Catalina in history!
After the war, the 'Cat' was used for the filming of the movie Flipper, the predesessor of the famous TV series. She was converted to a firefighter and was used in this role in Canada and South America before ending up in the Netherlands at Schiphol where she was found by the 'Stichting Neptune Association', who brought her back to a fantastic condition during an intensive period of maintenance.
She is painted in the colours of the Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service that operated a total of 78 Catalina's from 1941 until 1958. The registration is 16-218 is from a Catlina that served 321 Squadron in the Dutch East Indies. The Catalina was mainly operated in the Far East but also in the Netherlands where she was used for Search and Rescue.
She is now maintained and operated by the Catalina PBY Foundation at her new home; Lelystad Airport. There the general public can either admire her on the apron of the Nationaal Luchtvaart Museum Aviodrome or even experience the 'Cat' in her elements; the sky and of course the water during one of the many commercial pleasure flights she makes during the year.