Since Sopwith’s early attempts, there have been many seaplanes, floatplanes and amphibians built by various manufacturers over the years. One aircraft that particularly stands out is the Catalina. Designed by Consolidated and given the designation PBY it was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of WW2. Over 3,300 examples were produced but today less than 20 are still airworthy. The only airworthy Catalina in the UK is operated by Plane Sailing Air Displays Ltd. Built in 1943 by Canadian Vickers at Cartierville, Quebec, it served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1943 until 1961. It was then struck off charge and continued life for many years as a fire bomber in Canada and France. It was flown from Canada to the UK in 2004 and is now based at the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
The Catalina G-PBYA will be 70 years old in August 2013. Being an amphibian it can operate off land as well as off water. However, given her age and the aim of her owners to keep her flying for as long as possible, only freshwater operations are undertaken now to avoid the damage caused by salt corrosion. It seems mighty fitting that the oldest UK based airworthy amphibian is preparing to commemorate the 1913 Circuit of Britain flight undertaken by Harry Hawker and Harry Kauper.
|Aircraft||Sopwith Waterplane||Catalina G-PBYA|
|Wingspan||49 feet 6 inches||104 feet|
|Wing area||500 sq feet||1400 sq feet|
|Length||31 feet||63 feet 10 inches|
|Height||8 foot 6 inches||18 foot 10 inches|
|Engine||100Hp Green 6 cylinder inline||2 x Pratt &Whitney R1830 1200Hp each|
|Fuel||50 Imp Gallons||1458 Imp Gallons|
|Oil||?||40 Imp gallons|
|Crew||Pilot & Mechanic||Captain, Co-Pilot & Crew Chief|