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Circa 1949

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY:  History ThumbnailCameraVP-6 Squadron Photograph "...Patrol Squadron 6 - NAS Kodiak, Alaska - 26AUG1949 - CO W. F. Dawson..." Contributed by John Lucas JohnLucas@netzero.com [24DEC2005]

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: Naval Aviation News March 1948 "...Aleutian Cloud Has "Prize" - Page 18 - Naval Aviation News - March 1949..." WebSite: http://www.history.navy.mil/nan/backissues/1940s/1949/mar49.pdf [15JUL2004]

Naval Aviation News March 1948

Circa 1948

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: UNIT: VP-6 PREVIOUS DES: VP-ML-6 NAME: Blue Sharks TAIL CODE: BE/PC ACTIVATED: 9-1-48 DEACTIVATED: 5-31-93 TYPICAL LOCATION(S): NAS Whidbey Island, Washington / NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii
BooksTitle: "Lockheed P2V Neptune An Illustrated History" by Wayne Mutza wmutza@wi.rr.com...A Schiffer Military History Book...ISBN: 0-7643-0151-9...286 pages full of pictures and history!

Circa 1944

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...I can not find any reference to VP-6 action during WWII specifically Greenland Patrol. VP-6 flew out of NAS Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada and later Narsarsuak Greenland. It was redesugnated VPB-6 in 1944. From 1943-1946 it was Commanded by a Coast Guard Aviator, and was part od Fleet Air Wing Nine, OPCON to Commander Task Force 24, Newfoundland, and then DaRr..." Contributed by Everett F. Rollins, III efrollins@aol.com..." [20SEP98]

Circa 1941

HistoryHISTORY: "1943-1968--Conceived of necessity and mothered by the fortunes of war, Patrol Squadron Six drew it's first breath on July 15, 1943 as Patrol Bombing Squadron 146. Until the conclusion of World War II, Patrol Bombing Squadron 146, with it's 15 PV's, operated throughout the South Pacific from NAS Kaneohe Bay, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii to Borneo. For it's participation in the Morotai Landings and in the occupation of Leyte Island, the squadron received two battle stars. In 1946 VP-146 arrived at it's new home port, Barber's Point, Hawaii. Routine training was conducted for about a year in the Hawaiian area. During this time a detachment from the squadron visited Mexico City to participate in the Mexican Presidential Inauguration Ceremonies. The squadron soon there after left for a new home port at Whidby Island, Washington. At this time the squadron received it's first new P2V "Neptune", the latest in ASW aircraft. From January, 1948 to May, 1950, the squadron, now newly designated VP-6, operated with proficiency in all fields of ASW. During this period several deployments were made to the Alaskan area. In 1950, Patrol Squadron Six returned to Barber's Point, Hawaii and was shortly thereafter ordered to Korean duty, becoming the first operational squadron to fly the P2V into combat. Flights over the Yellow Sea, cover for the Incho Landing, reconnaissance flights, and the evacuation of Hamburg and the Chosen Reservoirs were among the many assignments successfully completed. Within a year, VP-6 was awarded the Naval Unit Commendation and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation, for operations under Fleet Air Wing Six. The squadron moved again from Hawaii, this time to Agana, Guam, with deployments to Sangley Point, Philipppine Islands. The squadron flew protective flights over shipping lanes until 1954. It was during this tour that VP-6 became known as the "Blue Sharks". In 1954, the squadron once again returned to Barber's Point, Hawaii. This time to receive it's first jet boosted P2Vs. Shortly thereafter they made a five month deployment to Kodiak Island, Alaska. March of 1959 saw the first of a string of Iwakuni, Japan deployments. Extensive training cycles followed by six month deployments to Iwakuni were the order from 1959 to 1964. On August 6th, 1964, the training cycle was abruptly halted when VP-6 was alerted to prepare for deployment to the Western Pacific as a result of the Tonkin Gulf Crisis. The entire squadron deployed on August 9th, 1964 to join the Seventh Fleet. On August 13th, 1959 the "Blue Sharks" began operations from Naha, Okinawa. During the next six months the squadron changed bases of operations six times, operating successfully from Naha Okinawa, NAS Cubi Point, Philippines, MCAS Iwakuni Japan, and Tainan Taiwan. At the same time the squadron deployed detachments to Sangley Point Philipines, DaNang Viet Nam, and NAF Misawa, Japan. On January 28th, 1965 the squadron returned to it's home at Barber's Point, to transition to the new P3A "Orion" turboprop aircraft. On June 2nd, 1966 the squadron made a six month deployment to NAS Adak, Alaska. During this deployment, the squadron received a Presidential Unit Citation for ASW operations in the Western Pacific. In January of 1968, VP-6 made a six month deployment to Naha, Okinawa. Note: Most of this informaation came from 1966 Cruise Book from the NAS Adak, Alaska deployment. I left VP-6 in May of 1968..." Contributed by Mike Fiorini mfiorini@ameritech.net

UPDATE 20APR98 "...With respect to Mr. Fiorini's historical information and chronological major milestones in the life of VP-6, I am compelled to make one small correction (you know engineers are nitpickers). Following our triumphal return from NS Sangley Point, Philippines in the spring of 1954, our grand old war weary P-2V-3's were replaced with factory fresh P-2V-5, plastic nose and tail stinger Neptunes. The jet assisted P-2V-5F aircraft replaced the P-2V-5 Neptunes after the return from NAS Kodiak, Alaska in the spring of 1955. PS: I was one of the lucky AL's to crew an old P-2V-3 back to "Amerika Shima" and fly back to NAS Barbers Point, Hawaii (or in the words of the great J Akku Head Paupuli) "Haircut Peninsula", in a new P-2V-5. I can not describe the smell, the look, and the complete functionality of an aircraft just off the line at Lockheed, that was a major change from what I was used to..." Contributed by John A Sullivan Sullivan.JohnA@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV [20APR98]

"The big ship is safer near the water. At 25 feet no enemy fighter can get beneath her, and she is vulnerable only from above. Even if hit and badly hurt, she has only to sink a few feet to ride the waves."

A PBY was there when America entered World War II. While on the early morning patrol near Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, the P-boat dropped a smoke pot on a midget submarine, which was then attacked by a destroyer. Japanese planes destroyed or damaged the remaining PBYs on the ground at NAS Ford Island, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and those at Kaneohe air station. Heavy PBY losses also occurred in the Philippines. All the PBYs had been built at San Diego.

FLYING BOATS TAKE OFF FROM S. D. NEST Photo Courtesy San Diego Aerospace Museum...The Consolidated Aircraft rescue platform allows easy access from the side gun mount on the Catalina, allowing the Navy tp pick up downed aviators.

Before the decisive Battle of Midway in June 1942, a PBY-5 was the first to sight the Japanese warships. Four PBYs conducted a torpedo attack and sank an oiler the night of June 3. In Alaska a PBY waist gunner hit and forced down a Japanese Mitsubishi Zero airplane on June 4, 1942. The fighter was brought to North Island. After workmen secretly repaired the fighter in the blimp hangar, Navy pilots flew it with U.S. markings over San Diego County, where American planes "attacked" the Zero to discover its strengths and weaknesses. During the war, instead of attacking or being attacked, most PBY s simply spent thousands of hours patrolling the oceans seeking enemy shipping and submarines. But the Navy also organized Air-Sea Rescue squadrons to pick up downed aviators. Lt. Nathan Gordon I was awarded the Medal of Honor for rescuing 25 men from Kavieng Harbor, New Ireland, with his PBY-5Aunderfireon Feb.15, 1944. Wartime flying in PBYs was hours and hours of routine boredom punctuated by moments of deadly excitement.

At San Diego, Consolidated delivered 516 PBY-5s between April 1942 and July 1943. And 710 PBY-5As were delivered between December 1941 and March 1944. The Aviator Log Book of Navy Lt. Norris A. Johnson shows that in the month of September 1942 he test-hopped 36 of the PBY-5As after they left the factory at Lindbergh Field and before he landed them at North Island.

The San Diego Aerospace Museum exhibits PBY-5A, Bureau Number 48406, built in 1943, and donated by a civilian owner in 1985. It served in the Pacific war, the Coast Guard, and was parked at the Van Nuys airport before its last flight to North Island to be restored.

The British received 225 PBY-5B (Catalina IB) and 70 Catalina IVA flying boats between May 1942 and July 1943. A Dutch squadron in Ceylon got 12 PBY-5As in September 1942.

The war brought improvements to PBYs. The seaplanes received self-sealing tanks for part of their fuel load. Improved armament included two guns in the bow turret instead of one, and more ammunition all around. Five hundred pounds of armor protected the pilot, gunners and fuel sumps. Assemblers installed radar on the Consolidated PBY production line in May 1942.

Sailors quickly called them Black Cats. All-black PBYs carried out night bomber operations in the South Pacific. The planes flew out of Guadalcanal and Australia through 1943. They flew at night for two reasons. First, the comparatively slow PBYs were easy targets in daylight, and second, the enemy had difficulty seeing them in the dark, especially at 60 feet dropping delayed-action bombs.

Navy PBYs found the most targets in the Atlantic, where German U-boats had sent Allied ship after ship to the bottom with men and supplies that would never reach Europe. PBYs flew from Natal, Brazil, to patrol the South Atlantic, from Morocco to guard the Straits of Gibraltar, and from Great Britain over the Bay of Biscay.

Catalinas of VP-63 made the first detection of a submerged enemy submarine by the use of magnetic airborne detection gear near the Straits of Gibraltar on Feb. 24, 1944. Ships and planes attacked and sank U-761.

Canadian Flight Leader David Hornell received the Victory Cross posthumously after his successful attack on U-1225 on June 24, 1944, with a Canso, the Canadian nickname for the PBY. Before the sub sank. the German antiaircraft gunners shot off the plane's starboard engine. After the burning Canso landed the crew waited for rescue in the water for 21 hours.

In September 1944 a PBY-5 from VP-33 operating near the Philippines got a radar contact off Mindanao. A Japanese Seaplane Tender and two destroyer escorts soon became visible in the moonlight. Lt. j.g. William B. Sumpterdecided to attack. He dropped two 100-pound and two 500-pound bombs, which hit each of the three ships amidships. The P-boat crew felt the explosion and watched the ships erupt in smoke and flames. After a strafing pass, all that was left was the tender lying on its side and sinking.

Army PBYs, designated OA-10s, formed the Emergency Rescue Squadron in the Mediterranean in 1944 to pick up downed aviators and other survivors in the water. Both the Navy and the Army referred to the Catalinas used for rescues as Dumbo, the code name for a rescue mission.

In March 1944, the Consolidated Inspection Department at San Diego rubber-stamped its last Catalina; however, other factories continued making PH Y s. The Naval Aircraft Factory at Philadelphia built PENs and called them Nomads. In Canada, Hoeing built PBYs called Canso lIs and PH2Hs at Vancouver. Canadair Vickers built them at Montreal. Consolidated - Vultee New Orleans, the last company to build PBYs, began a contract for 60 planes in April 1944.

The last Catalina model produced was the PBY-6A amphibian. Russia got 48, the Army got 75 as the OA-10H, and the Navy got the rest.

After the war, perhaps 200 PBYs made their last landings at NAS Jacksonville, Florida. Although the Navy scrapped most of them wherever they gathered, many surplus Catalinas went to small air forces around the world. Perhaps the last military Catalina was retired by Denmark in 1970.

Civilian companies also purchased secondhand PBYs. They fought forest fires in Canada and the United States. A few individuals bought the airplanes for pleasure, business and economical reasons. They were comparatively inexpensive to operate with great reliability.

Navy Capt. William E. Scarborough described flying the P-boat as "hard work." It took a lot of physical effort without power steering. The airplane had an excellent autopilot, which was only good for straight-Iineflight. They cruised at about 110 miles per hour.

Takeoffs in water were blinded by spray over the windshield. Landings were made at about 80 knots (92 miles per hour) until reaching about 50 feet altitude. Power was then reduced. As the speed dropped, the nose was pulled up into a stall. If properly executed, the plane settled in the water at minimum forward speed. If not, a touchdown before a stall could result in a high bounce, popped rivets. and open hull seams.

The interior of a normally noisy PBY turned extremely cold in the Arctic. Tropical flying conditions caused high humidity inside the seaplane and temperatures in the 90s. Long patrols resulted in the loss of normal hearing for hours afterward.

The memory of flying in Consolidated PBY Catalinas shines brightly in the recollections of old P-boat aviators. An old Catalina will continue to be on exhibit at the San Diego Aerospace Museum to remind future generations what those men and those planes achieved.

Leisel; curator of the San Diego Aerospace Museum, used the following as major sources for this article; "Aero Biographies; The Story of the PBY Catalina" by Ray Wagner; The Consolidator magazine; "Historical Aviation Album, Consolidated PBY-5/-5A " by Capt. WE. Scarborough; and Journal of the American Aviation Historical Society.

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