The Catalina PBY Flying Boat
What a dream



This image is a composite of four photos.
Sky from Boeing Ad - Hills from Skagit Valley - Water from  Ship Photo - PBY from Oshkosh Fly-In

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Oak Harbor Naval Seaplane Base, Oak Harbor, WA

48.29 North / 122.63 West (Northwest of Seattle, WA
Squadrons of PBY Catalinas flew from the Seaplane Base to Dutch Harbor, Cold Bay, Umnak, Nazan Bay, Adak, Amchitka, Shemya and Attu.

Like big flying boats, PBY patrol bombers took off with a churning of water and a roar of engines for their practice runs in Saratoga Passage, then returned, skimming the hill above the hangar and settling into the bay to repeat the maneuver.

Residents of Oak Harbor soon became accustomed to the circling bombers training for the real thing in the Aleutian Islands. And with the attack by the Japanese there, a very real concern gripped Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

Bob Walker first set foot on Whidbey Island in 1944 to attend aerial gunnery school, followed by a tour with training squadron VPB-61 at the Seaplane Base.

He described his job as sitting in the PBY-5A aircraft's "tower," which was the heart of the plane. "That's where the engines were started and things like the fuel system, wingtip floats and slats were monitored. The PBY took off at 75, climbed at 75 and flew at 75. It was low and slow."

Wartime training continued at a furious tempo. Patrol planes flew long-range navigation training missions over the North Pacific. Fighters and bombers made bombing, rocket and machine gun attacks on targets in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Recruits, petty officers and officers went to training schools.

Torpedo overhaul equipment was transferred here unexpectedly in 1942 from Indian Island, Wash. At the start, the torpedo shop refurbished six torpedoes per day. By January 1945, production had increased to 25 per day.

At the Seaplane Base, several PBM seaplanes were aboard in the summer of 1944, and a few B-26s arrived early that year to be used in towing targets.


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