PBY-5a Canso Waterbomber (Catalina)

Manufacturer: Canadian Vickers Ltd., Montreal, Quebec

Crew: Seven to nine

Power Plant: Two 1200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp

Dimensions: Span 104; Length 63’10”; Height 21′; Wing Area 1400 sq ft

Weight: 20,910 lbs (empty), 35,420 lbs (max); as a Water Bomber 30,500 lbs

Performance: Max speed 175 mph at 7000 ft; Cruising speed 113 mph; Climb 650 ft per min Service Ceiling 13,000 ft; Range 3100 miles

History: In 1933 the US Navy ordered the first PBY-5A Catalina. Its prototype XP3Y-1 was first flown on March 28, 1935. It went on to become the most successful flying boat to see service in the US Forces in WWII. The Catalina was produced in greater numbers than any other flying boat – over 3,000 were built. These aircraft were used in WWII by the American, British and Soviet Air Forces. Many of these aircraft came through Gander on their way across the Atlantic and some stayed as patrols for enemy submarines in coastal waters.

A fact on the Cat: In May 1941 a Catalina located and shadowed one of Germany’s greatest warships, the “Bismarck”, denying it free passage to France. With the Cat’s help the large enemy vessel was destroyed by the Allied Forces. Catalinas which were modified with landing gear were known as Cansos.

Our Canso: This particular Canso registered as CF-CRP has been owned by Canadian Pacific Airlines, Trans-Labrador Airlines, EPA, Newfoundland Government and finally, the North Atlantic Aviation Museum. It had its first civilian flight on June 4, 1946 piloted by Roy Brown.

This aircraft had many roles such as cable patrols, ice patrols, mail flights and general charters. It was leased in 1958 and then purchased by EPA in 1959 and used generally as a passenger service. It was then bought and modified into a water bomber by the Newfoundland Government in 1966 until its retirement in 1987. As a water bomber it held 8,000 lbs of water taking 14 to 17 seconds to fill up and approximately 2 seconds to discharge. It had successfully completed over 10,000 drops under the forestry service. In all its services, the aircraft logged approximately 11,421 hours of total air time. The aircraft was donated to the museum in 1989.