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The Black Cats - PBY night bombers

robschonk

Senior Member
#3
I really enjoyed watching this US Navy produced video. I've always liked the looks of the PBYs. Painting one in black would be very cool!
I was sitting in a dentist office about 10 years ago, and struck up a conversation with an old guy sitting there, and turns out he was a crewman on a Black Cat during the war. Fascinating conversation. He was surprised that I'd ever heard of them.

But you don't want to meet one while fishing....

http://youtu.be/JkE24axSBTI
 
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earthsciteach

Moderator
Moderator
#5
I was sitting in a dentist office about 10 years ago, and struck up a conversation with an old guy sitting there, and turns out he was a crewman on a Black Cat during the war. Fascinating conversation. He was surprised that I'd ever heard of them.
That must have been an awesome conversation! When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I went to Sunday school with a cousin. Somehow we got on the subject of personal interests with the teacher. I mentioned how I was interested in aviation, particularly during WWII. Turns out, her husband was the navigator on the 3rd B-24 in the lead group on the Ploesti raid. As I recall, the first two were lost, so he became lead, at some point. I'd read a book about that raid and she was quite surprised that some little kid knew all about that experience her husband had. I had hoped to meet him, but never did get the opportunity.
 

robschonk

Senior Member
#6
That must have been an awesome conversation! When I was in 6th or 7th grade, I went to Sunday school with a cousin. Somehow we got on the subject of personal interests with the teacher. I mentioned how I was interested in aviation, particularly during WWII. Turns out, her husband was the navigator on the 3rd B-24 in the lead group on the Ploesti raid. As I recall, the first two were lost, so he became lead, at some point. I'd read a book about that raid and she was quite surprised that some little kid knew all about that experience her husband had. I had hoped to meet him, but never did get the opportunity.
My Dad was a navigator on a B-24, but peace broke out before he made it overseas. Maybe that's why I'm here. Top row, third from the left.
 

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robschonk

Senior Member
#10
Sorry for your loss. But, he definitely did well for himself, huh? Wharton School of Business - not too shabby!
Yep, that was back in the days when everybody and his dog didn't have MBAs.

I thought the Cats worked out of smaller bases, like a small atoll with one or two aircraft, and they pulled them up under the palm trees during the day for camouflague. That was a sizable installation. Wonder if that film was disinformation so the enemy would search for the wrong setup?

Also note that those Cats weren't amphibious. The landing gear was bolted on to bring them ashore. There is only one non amphib Cat left, and I saw it in the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola.
 
#12
Good Lord, those crews had balls the size of......well coconuts! First off just consider the amount of luck and skill required to find an enemy convoy at night in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean based on less than fresh intel. Bombing said convoy with precision in a non-purpose built craft more than likely lacking any targeting equipment such as was used over Europe. Lastly if any land based zeros or smaller escort carriers are within earshot, you would have only a few minutes to deliver load and turn tail before zeros vector in on your location.....it's game over if any enemy fighter lines up on your tail. The worse enemy of all though is the vastness of the ocean, imagine a glassy smooth ocean and clear moonless sky above.....up becomes down without any reference points......huge balls! Loved the pby introduction...."that torso with a middle aged sag".....great vid!
 
#13
Btw this is the first I have ever heard of pby night bombing operations....and consider myself fairly well versed so far as wwII air war is concerned. I knew they used modified blacked out liberators from land bases to hit known hard targets but this was all new to me.....thanks for posting
 

Fooman

Junior Member
#19
The CO of NAS Jacksonville got tired of the F-11 on the pad outside the gate (Jax never flew Tigers) so he managed to get the guys at the Naval Air Rework Facility to agree to do the work restoring a PBY (which Jax did fly for years). So he contacted the the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola and found they had a PBY sitting there on the ramp (awaiting restoration after sitting there for years). He flew to Pensacola and found an ensign (from the last class of recip basic flight cadets, the navy was going to turbines for basic flight) and drafted him to fly copilot (there were of course no qualified flight engineers available). When they boarded the aircraft the CO felt the floors flex slightly as he sat down (he weighed about 185), the co-pilot was a former Naval Academy guard and weighed over 250. They got the engines started and found that they only had gauges for one engine, though both seemed to be fine. The taxied to the end of the runway and found the gyro-compass was just doing slow spins in the cage, the magnetic compass was over 40 degrees off, it was then the co-pilot suggested flying concrete compass (I-10 goes across Florida from Pensacola to the end of the runway at Jax as favorite route of the new birdmen being minted there), so they did. As they lined up for the long final the oil pressure in the engine that had gauges started to drop, and the cylinder head temperature started to rise (indicating that the did indeed have real problems). They declared an emergency and got the clearance for a straight in approach, upon touch-down they discovered that the 6 years parked on the ramp in 'Cola' had made the brakes non-functional! They managed to get her slowed down, though nearly being the first navy aircraft to use the seaplane ramp at Jax in 30 years! After her restoration she was placed on the pad by the main gate (moving it there was another adventure), painted in the colors of the WWII VP-24 (the Batmen) one of the black cat squadrons.
Foo
 

Fooman

Junior Member
#20
The CO of NAS Jacksonville got tired of the F-11 on the pad outside the gate (Jax never flew Tigers) so he managed to get the guys at the Naval Air Rework Facility to agree to do the work restoring a PBY (which Jax did fly for years). So he contacted the the Naval Air Museum at Pensacola and found they had a PBY sitting there on the ramp (awaiting restoration after sitting there for years). He flew to Pensacola and found an ensign (from the last class of recip basic flight cadets, the navy was going to turbines for basic flight) and drafted him to fly copilot (there were of course no qualified flight engineers available). When they boarded the aircraft the CO felt the floors flex slightly as he sat down (he weighed about 185), the co-pilot was a former Naval Academy guard and weighed over 250. They got the engines started and found that they only had gauges for one engine, though both seemed to be fine. The taxied to the end of the runway and found the gyro-compass was just doing slow spins in the cage, the magnetic compass was over 40 degrees off, it was then the co-pilot suggested flying concrete compass (I-10 goes across Florida from Pensacola to the end of the runway at Jax as favorite route of the new birdmen being minted there), so they did. As they lined up for the long final the oil pressure in the engine that had gauges started to drop, and the cylinder head temperature started to rise (indicating that the did indeed have real problems). They declared an emergency and got the clearance for a straight in approach, upon touch-down they discovered that the 6 years parked on the ramp in 'Cola' had made the brakes non-functional! They managed to get her slowed down, though nearly being the first navy aircraft to use the seaplane ramp at Jax in 30 years! As the captain evacuated the aircraft (due to fire danger) the co-pilot fell through the rotten floor to his chest! After her restoration she was placed on the pad by the main gate (moving it there was another adventure), painted in the colors of the WWII VP-24 (the Batmen) one of the black cat squadrons.
Foo