Ordered by the U.S. Navy in October 1933, the model of the PBY was designed by Issac M. Laddon. The protype, XP3Y-1, was tested in March 1935. Designated PBY-1, sixty of the aircraft were manufactured. For the PBY designation "PB" means patrol bomber, and "Y" was the code assigned to the manufacturer, Consolidated Aircraft. Throughout the late 1930s, modifications progressed in early 1940 to the PBY-5, used during World War II. The end abbreviation of "A" for the PBY-5 stands for amphibian. The end abbreviation of "B" for the PBY-5 was an improved model.
When the United States entered World War II, Catalina aircraft were the principle patrol bomber utillized by the U.S. Navy. THe aircraft was used in the Battle of the Atlantic and numberous Pacific campaigns. The aircraft was mainly used for anti-submarine warfare, bombing of enemy targets, escorting convoys, search and rescue missions, and transportation of cargo and personnel. Following World War II, the Catalina aircraft were retired by the U.S. Navy, though they were utilized for search and rescue missions numerous years after.
Image: 80-G-K-15434: Consolidated PBY-5A "Catalina" patrol bomber on a patrol flight over Aleutian Islands, circa 1942-43. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.