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Catalina production numbers & serials

PostPosted: Thu Mar 02, 2017 4:08 am
by Rajay
David, maybe I'm crazy - because it is literally ten times the size of the Grumman Goose production database I built years back, but I have been trying to compile data from various sources (mostly Baugher's lists of US military serials and Walker's comparable lists for RCAF aircraft) in order to create a comprehensive database of all PBY / Catalina series aircraft by factory serial or construction numbers.

So far, I'm focusing just on Consolidated's production along with the Boeing Canada and Canadian Vickers / Canadair production. Will save NAF for later and maybe won't even bother about Russian variants as I don't expect to have any good sources for that data.

In any case, I am having some trouble reconciling supposed production numbers with identifiable serial numbers - and really if you have any other sources of valid data to recommend, I would appreciate it!

I have found Web sites that claim a combined total of something like 721 PBY series aircraft were built in Canada, but independent numbers for Boeing Canada are typically in the range of 362 and for Canadian Vickers (Canadair) at 380 - which equals a total of 742, but...

For Boeing Canada the breakdown seems to be:
55 Canso A's assembled from PBY-5A parts supplied by Consolidated
240 PB2B-1 flying boats**
67 PB2B-2 flying boats
but I can find evidence of only 165 serial numbers purporting to be PB2B-1 aircraft.
(**of which 194 supposedly went to the RAF, 34 to NZAF, 7 to RAAF, and 5 to USN - none of which helps point to the "missing" 75 that I can't identify otherwise.)

The 55 Canso A's were RCAF serials 9751 through 9805 equating to Boeing serials 21980 through 22034.

The 165 PB2B-1 aircraft were USN Bu. 44188 through 44227 equating to Boeing serials 61094 through 61133 (40 aircraft.)
and USN Bu. 72992 through 73116 equating to Boeing serials 28081 through 28183 plus serials 60956 through 60977 (125 aircraft.)

Finally, the PB2B-2 aircraft were USN Bu. 44228 through 44294 equating to Boeing serials 61134 through 61200 (67 aircraft.)

For Canadian Vickers the breakdowns that I have found indicate:
139 Canso A's for RCAF, serials 9806 through 9844 (39 aircraft) and 11001 through 11100 (100 aircraft)
230 PBV-1A's that went directly to the USAAF as OA-10A's; USN Bu. nos. 67832 through 68061 which became USAAF models OA-10A-VI serials 44-33868 through 44-34097.
Then there are another 150 PBV-1A's (USN Bu. nos. 03563 through 03712) that supposedly went to the RCAF as Canso A's according to Baugher, but he gave no other data to tie them to any other identifications - no factory construction numbers and no RCAF serials either.

Because I have found serial numbers for only the 139 Canso A's coming out of Canadian Vickers / Canadair, I was wondering if that second block of 150 PBV-1A's (strangely with lower and therefore presumably earlier Navy Bu. nos.) were one and the same as the 139 Canso A's listed elsewhere and really only 11 corresponding RCAF serial numbers seem to be unaccounted for. Otherwise, there is no clue that I have found to explain what happened to the block of 150 USN PBV-1A's that supposedly went to the RCAF. Eliminating the 139 Canso A's as not really separate aircraft, then the 230 plus 150 of the original US Navy contracts to Canadian Vickers does equal the nominal amount attributed to them of 380 aircraft. Wikipedia seems to support the 380 number as the actual total by Vickers. What do you think?

The other thing that was interesting to me was that the 139 RCAF Canso A's and the 230 PBV-1A's that became OA-10A's were interspersed on the production line. At first there were 64 Canso A's for the RCAF (Canadian Vickers serials CV-240 through CV-303) before the first block of PBV-1A's came along as serials CV-304 through CV-307. Later though they seem to alternate between the two types and for a long while (from serial nos. CV-328 through CV-450) the odd serials were Canso A's for the RCAF and the even ones were models PBV-1A that were contracted for by the US Navy but which actually went to the USAAF as model OA-10A aircraft.

But if the RCAF Canso A's really were originally contracted for by the USN as PBV-1A's, that means that Vickers / Canadair was building two different USN contracts simultaneously and side-by-side. From what I saw, none of the PBV-1A's ever saw service as such with the US Navy.

Another "factoid" that I came across during my research and that I thought was interesting was that Canadian Vickers built only the first 173 aircraft before Nov. 11, 1944 when the company was nationalized for the war effort and technically became Canadair. (I had no idea it was that early on.) That same source also said that it was only starting with Canadair's production of aircraft 174 that they were first identified as company models CL-1. (Some perspective for the later models CL-215, CL-415, CL-600, etc.)

Re: Catalina production numbers & serials

PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 6:32 pm
by DavidLegg
Rajay - I have been there and done that. Indeed I published it many years back although a couple of typos slipped in, perhaps inevitably. I do not have time to answer all your questions right now but I am able to and will do so.

Re: Catalina production numbers & serials

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 10:32 am
by DavidLegg
OK, coming back on this as promised. You have made some good progress Rajay but hopefully what I have to say will help further ....

The starting point is that if you look at various published and internet sources you will get a mess of conflicting information, some of it incorrect. But, we all make errors and over the years I have tried to get as accurate a picture as possible. The bottom line is that despite what you might see, the total production was 3,281 in North America and 24 in the Soviet Union. Some higher figures are quoted but that is usually down to assumptions that more were built in the Soviet Union than was actually the case. Now to specifics.....

Total Canadian production was 731 aircraft - 362 by Boeing of Canada and 369 by Canadian Vickers/Canadair.

Your 'missing' 75 Boeing aircraft were the sequence of PB2B-1/Catalina IVB serials JX270 to JX344 for the RAF and which did not have Bu Nos.

The 150 PBV-1A aircraft with Bu Nos 03563 to 03712 were not built and to my knowledge there was no direct transfer to the RCAF. When Canadian Vickers started building the 'Catalina', they all started going to the RCAF as Canso As until, as you have noted, production was interspersed with OA-10As for the USAAF. Two comments. First, although PBV-1A is the usually accepted designation for the aircraft that were intended for, but not delivered to, the US Navy, I have heard it said that the designation should be PBV-1 without the 'A' as there was no non-amphibious version. I have never been able to confirm this from a source document but would love to know the answer. In the meantime, I have continued the practice of including the 'A' in the designation. Second, the mixed production of Canso As and OA-10as at the same time was something that Consolidated did much earlier at San Diego when they had US Navy PBY-5s rolling off the line at the same time as orders for other Allied Air Forces.

I hope that helps.

Re: Catalina production numbers & serials

PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 3:21 pm
by Rajay
Those answers are simple enough - and you also explained the 'missing' 11 Canadair PBV-1A / Canso A / OA-10A's as well - at least compared to the common reports that they built 380 when it seems it was really only 369.

In fact your explanation was more simple than the round peg that I was trying to fit into a square hole - by suggesting that maybe the second US Navy contract for 150 more airplanes was for the same ones as the examples that went to the RCAF instead. It did seem very strange to me that there was not one bit of data tying even one of those aircraft to either a Convair or an RCAF serial number too.

I had begun to suspect that the total production numbers may have been lower overall too - because it seemed so likely that with so many different identities, some of them may have been double-counted as separate airplanes when in fact they were the same ones at different points in time. THAT is exactly why I always prefer to index my production lists by manufacturer's serial or construction numbers as opposed to military service branch serial numbers - the former never change but the latter change every time an aircraft is transferred or sold!