The Consolidated PBY Catalina, also known as the Canso in Canadian service, is an American flying boat, and later an amphibious aircraft of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used seaplanes of World War II. Catalinas served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations.
During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most numerous aircraft of its kind, and the last military PBYs served until the 1980s. As of 2014, nearly 80 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as a waterbomber (or airtanker) in aerial firefighting operations in some parts of the world.
|A PBY-5A on patrol, 1942–43|
|Role||Maritime patrol bomber, search and rescue seaplane|
|First flight||28 March 1935|
|Introduction||October 1936, United States Navy|
|Retired||January 1957 (United States Navy Reserve)|
1979 (Brazilian Air Force)
|Primary users||United States Navy|
United States Army Air Forces
Royal Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force
|Number built||3,305 (2,661 U.S.-built, 620 Canadian-built, 24 Soviet-built)|
The designation "PBY" was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing "Patrol Bomber" and Y being the code assigned to Consolidated Aircraft as its manufacturer. Catalinas built by other manufacturers for the U.S. Navy were designated according to different manufacturer codes, thus Canadian Vickers-built examples were designated PBV, Boeing Canada examples PB2B (there already being a Boeing PBB) and Naval Aircraft Factory examples were designated PBN. In accordance with contemporary British naming practice of naming seaplanes after coastal port towns, Royal Canadian Air Force examples were named Canso, for the town of that name in Nova Scotia. The Royal Air Force used the name Catalina and the U.S. Navy adopted this name in 1942. The United States Army Air Forces and later the United States Air Force used the designation OA-10. U.S. Navy Catalinas used in the Pacific against the Japanese for night operations were painted black overall; as a result these aircraft were sometimes referred to locally as "Black Cats".
The PBY was originally designed to be a patrol bomber, an aircraft with a long operational range intended to locate and attack enemy transport ships at sea in order to disrupt enemy supply lines. With a mind to a potential conflict in the Pacific Ocean, where troops would require resupply over great distances, the U.S. Navy in the 1930s invested millions of dollars in developing long-range flying boats for this purpose. Flying boats had the advantage of not requiring runways, in effect having the entire ocean available. Several different flying boats were adopted by the Navy, but the PBY was the most widely used and produced.
Although slow and ungainly, Catalinas distinguished themselves in World War II. Allied forces used them successfully in a wide variety of roles for which the aircraft was never intended. PBYs are remembered for their rescue role, in which they saved the lives of thousands of aircrew downed over water. Catalina airmen called their aircraft the "Cat" on combat missions and "Dumbo" in air-sea rescue service.
As American dominance in the Pacific Ocean began to face competition from Japan in the 1930s, the U.S. Navy contracted Consolidated, Martin and Douglas in October 1933 to build competing prototypes for a patrol flying boat. Naval doctrine of the 1930s and 1940s used flying boats in a wide variety of roles that today are handled by multiple special-purpose aircraft. The U.S. Navy had adopted the Consolidated P2Y and Martin P3M models for this role in 1931, but both aircraft were underpowered and hampered by inadequate range and limited payloads.
Consolidated and Douglas both delivered single prototypes of their new designs, the XP3Y-1 and XP3D-1, respectively. Consolidated's XP3Y-1 was an evolution of the XPY-1 design that had originally competed unsuccessfully for the P3M contract two years earlier and of the XP2Y design that the Navy had authorized for a limited production run. Although the Douglas aircraft was a good design, the Navy opted for Consolidated's because the projected cost was only $90,000 per aircraft.
Consolidated's XP3Y-1 design (company Model 28) had a parasol wing with external bracing struts, mounted on a pylon over the fuselage. Wingtip stabilizing floats were retractable in flight to form streamlined wingtips and had been licensed from the Saunders-Roe company. The two-step hull design was similar to that of the P2Y, but the Model 28 had a cantilever cruciform tail unit instead of a strut-braced twin tail. Cleaner aerodynamics gave the Model 28 better performance than earlier designs. Construction is all-metal, stressed-skin, of aluminum sheet, except the ailerons and wing trailing edge, which are fabric covered.
The prototype was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-54 Twin Wasp radial engines mounted on the wing's leading edges. Armament comprised four .30 in (7.6 mm) Browning AN/M2 machine guns and up to 2,000 lb (910 kg) of bombs.
The XP3Y-1 had its maiden flight on 28 March 1935, after which it was transferred to the U.S. Navy for service trials. The XP3Y-1 was a significant performance improvement over previous patrol flying boats. The Navy requested further development in order to bring the aircraft into the category of patrol bomber, and in October 1935, the prototype was returned to Consolidated for further work, including installation of 900 hp (670 kW) R-1830-64 engines. For the redesignated XPBY-1, Consolidated introduced redesigned vertical tail surfaces which resolved a problem with the tail becoming submerged on takeoff, which had made lift-off impossible under some conditions. The XPBY-1 had its maiden flight on 19 May 1936, during which a record non-stop distance flight of 3,443 mi (2,992 nmi; 5,541 km) was achieved.
The XPBY-1 was delivered to VP-11F in October 1936. The second squadron to be equipped was VP-12, which received the first of its aircraft in early 1937. The second production order was placed on 25 July 1936. Over the next three years, the design was gradually developed further and successive models introduced.
|Model||Production period and distinguishing features||Quantity|
|PBY-1||September 1936 – June 1937
Original production model.
|PBY-2||May 1937 – February 1938
Minor alterations to tail structure, hull reinforcements.
|PBY-3||November 1936 – August 1938
Higher power engines.
|PBY-4||May 1938 – June 1939
Higher power engines, propeller spinners, acrylic glass blisters over waist guns (some later units).
|PBY-5||September 1940 – July 1943
Higher power engines (using higher octane fuel), discontinued use of propeller spinners, standardized waist gun blisters. Self-sealing fuel tanks introduced during production run.
|PBY-5A||October 1941 – January 1945
Hydraulically actuated, retractable tricycle landing gear, with main gear design based on one from the 1920s designed by Leroy Grumman, for amphibious operation. Introduced tail gun position, replaced bow single gun position with bow "eyeball" turret equipped with twin .30 machine guns (some later units), improved armor, self-sealing fuel tanks.
|PBY-6A||January 1945 – May 1945
Incorporated changes from PBN-1, including a taller vertical tail, increased wing strength for greater carrying capacity, new electrical system, standardized "eyeball" turret, and a radome over cockpit for radar.
An estimated 4,051 Catalinas, Cansos, and GSTs of all versions were produced between June 1937 and May 1945 for the U.S. Navy, the United States Army Air Forces, the United States Coast Guard, Allied nations, and civilian customers.
The Naval Aircraft Factory made significant modifications to the PBY design, many of which would have significantly interrupted deliveries had they been incorporated on the Consolidated production lines. The new aircraft, officially known as the PBN-1 Nomad, had several differences from the basic PBY. The most obvious upgrades were to the bow, which was sharpened and extended by two feet, and to the tail, which was enlarged and featured a new shape. Other improvements included larger fuel tanks, increasing range by 50%, and stronger wings permitting a 2,000 lb (908 kg) increase in gross takeoff weight. An auxiliary power unit was installed, along with an improved electrical system, and the weapons were upgraded with continuous-feed mechanisms.
138 of the 156 PBN-1s produced served with the Soviet Navy. The remaining 18 were assigned to training units at NAS Whidbey Island and the Naval Air Facility in Newport, Rhode Island. Later, improvements found in the PBN such as the larger tail were incorporated into the amphibious PBY-6A.
Around 3,300 aircraft were built, and these operated in nearly all operational theatres of World War II. The Catalina served with distinction and played a prominent and invaluable role against the Japanese. This was especially true during the first year of the war in the Pacific, because the PBY and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress were the only American aircraft with the range to be effective in the Pacific.
Catalinas were the most extensively used anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of World War II, and were also used in the Indian Ocean, flying from the Seychelles and from Ceylon. Their duties included escorting convoys to Murmansk. By 1943, U-boats were well-armed with anti-aircraft guns and two Victoria Crosses were won by Catalina pilots pressing home their attacks on U-boats in the face of heavy fire: Flying Officer John Cruickshank of the RAF, in 1944, for sinking U-347 (although the submarine is now known to have been U-361) and in the same year Flight Lieutenant David Hornell of the Royal Canadian Air Force (posthumously) against U-1225. Catalinas destroyed 40 U-boats, but not without losses of their own. A Brazilian Catalina attacked and sank U-199 in Brazilian waters on 31 July 1943. Later, the aircraft was baptized as "Arará", in memory of the merchant ship of that name which was sunk by another U-boat.
In their role as patrol aircraft, Catalinas participated in some of the most notable naval engagements of World War II. The aircraft's parasol wing and large waist blisters provided excellent visibility and combined with its long range and endurance, made it well suited for the task.
A RAF Coastal Command Catalina, piloted by Ensign Leonard B. Smith of the U.S. Navy and flying out of Castle Archdale Flying boat base, Lower Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, located on 26 May 1941, some 690 nmi (1,280 km; 790 mi) northwest of Brest, the German battleship Bismarck, which was attempting to evade Royal Navy forces as she sought to join other Kriegsmarine forces in Brest.[N 1] This sighting eventually led to the destruction of the German battleship.
On 7 December 1941, before the Japanese amphibious landings on Kota Bharu, Malaya, their invasion force was approached by a Catalina flying boat of No. 205 Squadron RAF. The aircraft was shot down by five Nakajima Ki-27 fighters before it could radio its report to air headquarters in Singapore. Flying Officer Patrick Bedell, commanding the Catalina, and his seven crew members became the first Allied casualties in the war with Japan.
A Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Canso flown by Squadron Leader L.J. Birchall foiled Japanese plans to destroy the Royal Navy's Indian Ocean fleet on 4 April 1942 when it detected the Japanese carrier fleet approaching Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) also operated Catalinas as night raiders, with four squadrons Nos. 11, 20, 42, and 43 laying mines from 23 April 1943 until July 1945 in the southwest Pacific deep in Japanese-held waters, bottling up ports and shipping routes and forcing ships into deeper waters to become targets for U.S. submarines; they tied up the major strategic ports such as Balikpapan which shipped 80% of Japanese oil supplies. In late 1944, their mining missions sometimes exceeded 20 hours in duration and were carried out from as low as 200 ft (61 m) in the dark. Operations included trapping the Japanese fleet in Manila Bay in assistance of General Douglas MacArthur's landing at Mindoro in the Philippines. Australian Catalinas also operated out of Jinamoc in the Leyte Gulf, and mined ports on the Chinese coast from Hong Kong to as far north as Wenchow. Both USN and RAAF Catalinas regularly mounted nuisance night bombing raids on Japanese bases, with the RAAF claiming the slogan "The First and the Furthest". Targets of these raids included a major base at Rabaul. RAAF aircrews, like their U.S. Navy counterparts, employed "terror bombs", ranging from scrap metal and rocks to empty beer bottles with razor blades inserted into the necks, to produce high pitched screams as they fell, keeping Japanese soldiers awake and scrambling for cover.
Catalinas were employed by every branch of the U.S. military as rescue aircraft. A PBY piloted by LCDR Adrian Marks (USN) rescued 56 sailors in high seas from the heavy cruiser Indianapolis after the ship was sunk during World War II. When there was no more room inside, the crew tied sailors to the wings. The aircraft could not fly in this state; instead it acted as a lifeboat, protecting the sailors from exposure and the risk of shark attack, until rescue ships arrived. Catalinas continued to function in the search-and-rescue role for decades after the end of the war.
Catalinas were also used for commercial air travel. For example, Qantas Empire Airways flew commercial passengers from Suva to Sydney, a journey of 2,060 miles (3,320 km), which in 1949 took two days. The longest commercial flights (in terms of time aloft) ever made in aviation history were the Qantas flights flown weekly from 29 June 1943 through July 1945 over the Indian Ocean, dubbed the Double Sunrise. Qantas offered non-stop service between Perth and Colombo, a distance of 3,592 nmi (4,134 mi; 6,652 km). As the Catalina typically cruised at 110 kn (130 mph; 200 km/h), this took from 28 to 32 hours and was called the "flight of the double sunrise", since the passengers saw two sunrises during their non-stop journey. The flight was made in radio silence because of the possibility of Japanese attack and had a maximum payload of 1,000 lb (450 kg) or three passengers plus 143 lb (65 kg) of military and diplomatic mail.
An Australian PBY [named "Frigate Bird II" – an ex RAAF aircraft, registered VH-ASA] made the first trans-Pacific flight across the South Pacific between Australia and Chile in 1951 by (Sir) Gordon Taylor, making numerous stops at islands along the way for refueling, meals, and overnight sleep of its crew, flown from Sydney to Quintero in Chile after making initial landfall at Valparaiso via Tahiti and Easter Island.
With the end of the war, all of the flying boat versions of the Catalina were quickly retired from the U.S. Navy, but the amphibious versions remained in service for some years. The last Catalina in U.S. service was a PBY-6A operating with a Naval Reserve squadron, which was retired from use on 3 January 1957. The Catalina subsequently equipped the world's smaller armed services into the late 1960s in fairly substantial numbers.
The Brazilian Air Force flew Catalinas in naval air patrol missions against German submarines starting in 1943. The flying boats also carried out air mail deliveries. In 1948, a transport squadron was formed and equipped with PBY-5As converted to the role of amphibious transports. The 1st Air Transport Squadron (ETA-1) was based in the port city of Belem and flew Catalinas and C-47s until 1982. Catalinas were convenient for supplying military detachments scattered along the Amazon. They reached places that were otherwise accessible only by helicopters. The ETA-1 insignia was a winged turtle with the motto "Though slowly, I always get there". Today, the last Brazilian Catalina (a former RCAF one) is displayed at the Airspace Museum (MUSAL) in Rio de Janeiro.
Jacques-Yves Cousteau used a PBY-6A (N101CS) to support his diving expeditions. His second son, Philippe, was killed in an accident in this aircraft that occurred on the Tagus River near Lisbon. The Catalina nosed over during a high-speed taxi run undertaken to check the hull for leakage following a water landing. The aircraft turned upside down, causing the fuselage to break behind the cockpit. The wing separated from the fuselage and the left engine broke off, penetrating the captain's side of the cockpit.
Paul Mantz converted an unknown number of surplus Catalinas to flying yachts at his Orange County California hangar in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
Steward-Davis converted several Catalinas to their Super Catalina standard (later known as Super Cat), which replaced the usual 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp engines with Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 engines of 1,700 hp (1,300 kW). A larger, squared-off rudder was installed to compensate for the increased yaw which the more powerful engines could generate. The Super Catalina also had extra cabin windows and other alterations.
Chilean Air Force (FACH) Captain Roberto Parragué, in his PBY Catalina FACH No. 405 called "Manu-Tara", which means Lucky Bird in the Rapanui language, undertook the first flight between Easter Island and the continent of South America (from Chile), as well as the first flight to Tahiti, making him a national hero of France as well as of Chile. The flight was authorized by the Chilean President in 1951, but a second flight he made in 1957 was not authorized, and he was dismissed from the Chilean Air Force.
Of the few dozen remaining airworthy Catalinas, the majority are in use as aerial firefighting aircraft. China Airlines, the official airline of the Republic of China (Taiwan) was founded with two Catalina amphibians.
Platforms are folded out and deployed from Catalinas for use in open ocean fishing and Mahi Mahi tracking in the Pacific Ocean.
The Catalina Affair is the name given to a Cold War incident in which a Swedish Air Force Catalina was shot down by Soviet fighters over the Baltic Sea in June 1952 while investigating the disappearance of a Swedish Douglas DC-3 (later found to have been shot down by a Soviet fighter while on a signals intelligence mission; it was found in 2003 and raised 2004–2005).
Data from Encyclopedia of World Air Power Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II Handbook of Erection and Maintenance Instructions for Navy Model PBY-5 and PBY-5A Airplanes. and Quest for Performance
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era
The 1954 Bjørnøya Consolidated PBY Catalina crash (Norwegian: Bjørnøya-ulykken) was a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) of a Consolidated PBY Catalina on the island of Bjørnøya in Svalbard, Norway, on 28 March 1954 at ca. 15:00. The Royal Norwegian Air Force aircraft of No. 333 Squadron RNoAF (333 Sqn) was conducting a postal drop flight from Tromsø to five settlements on Svalbard, including Bjørnøya Radio, making a low pass over Bjørnøya at a height of 40 meters (130 ft) before crashing into the ground. Only one of the nine on board survived.
The crew at the station set out to find the aircraft in 3 ft (1 m) of snow, and did not manage to bring the survivor back to the station until the following day. Four military ships were dispatched to search for the aircraft. Once it was found, Andenes and Sørøy returned to Tromsø and then took the investigation commission to Bjørnøya. They concluded that the accident was caused by the aircraft losing altitude through a sideslip, possibly due to the pilot losing spatial awareness in the poor visibility.1962 Godthab Catalina crash
On 12 May 1962, an Eastern Provincial Airways Canso amphibian flying boat sank at Godthåb (now Nuuk) in Greenland, causing the death of 15 passengers.Bird Innovator
The Bird Innovator was an American four-engined executive amphibious airplane modified from a Consolidated PBY Catalina by the Bird Corporation.Catalina affair
The Catalina affair (Swedish: Catalinaaffären) was a military confrontation and Cold War-era diplomatic crisis in June 1952, in which Soviet Air Force fighter jets shot down two Swedish aircraft over international waters in the Baltic Sea.
The first aircraft to be shot down was an unarmed Swedish Air Force Tp 79, a derivative of the Douglas DC-3, carrying out radio and radar signals intelligence-gathering for the National Defence Radio Establishment. None of the crew of eight survived.
The second aircraft to be shot down was a Swedish Air Force Tp 47, a Catalina flying boat, involved in the search and rescue operation for the missing DC-3. The Catalina's crew of five were saved.
The Soviet Union publicly denied involvement until its dissolution in 1991. Both aircraft were located in 2003, and the DC-3 was salvaged.Coastal Command (film)
Coastal Command is a 1943 British film made by the Crown Film Unit for the Ministry of Information. The film, distributed by RKO, dramatised the work of RAF Coastal Command.
Coastal Command is a documentary-style account of the Short Sunderland and Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats during the Battle of the Atlantic. The film includes real footage of attacks on a major enemy ship by Hudson and Halifax bombers based in Iceland.Consolidated PBY Catalina in Australian service
Developed as a naval patrol aircraft, the Consolidated PBY Catalina was a widely exported flying boat during World War II. Over the course of the conflict it served with a number of different nations in a variety of roles. In the Royal Australian Air Force, PBYs and PB2Bs (a variant built by Boeing in Canada) served as multi role bombers and scouts, the type eventually earning great renown among Australian aircrews. The motto of the Catalina squadrons was "The First and Furthest."Fisherhaven
Fisherhaven is a suburb of the whale watching town of Hermanus in the Western Cape, South Africa. It is situated next to the Bot River Lagoon, about 14 km from Hermanus center and about 14 km from Arabella Country Estate and Golf course. There is an abundance of indigenous fauna and flora.
Fisherhaven is a popular birdwatching and holiday destination. Over 120 bird species can be found in the surrounding area. Many water sports can be done on the lagoon including waterski, powerboating, wakeboarding, kiteboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, sailing and fishing.
A herd of wild horses are known to roam free in the marshlands, next to the Rooisand Nature Reserve. There is a group of between 10 and 12 Fisherhaven horses which have made their home in and around the village, much to the delight of visitors and residents. The rest (numbering about 26) at Rooisand and the Bot-Kleinmond estuary marshes. They are believed to be South Africa's only herd of wild horses in a wetland habitat.During World War II, Royal Air Force (RAF) Squadron 262 established a diversion base at the lagoon and Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boats operated from here. The land on which Fisherhaven is situated was originally part of the Afdaksrivier farm which was first recorded in 1754. Before that the area of Middelvlei was first settled by the Khoisan people.High Barbaree (film)
High Barbaree (aka Enchanted Island) is a 1947 film directed by Jack Conway. It stars Van Johnson and June Allyson, in the third of their six screen pairings. The screenplay based on the novel High Barbaree (1945) by authors Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The real-life drama of the Consolidated PBY Catalina aircraft in the Pacific theater was merged into a search for a mystical "High Barbaree".Japanese submarine I-22 (1938)
The Japanese submarine I-22 was one of five Type C cruiser submarines of the C1 sub-class built for the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) during the 1930s.KLM Interinsulair Bedrijf
KLM Interinsulair Bedrijf (KLM-IIB) was an airline based Netherlands East Indies (present-day Indonesia) and the precursor to Garuda Indonesia.List of Israeli Air Force aircraft squadrons
This is a list of Israeli Air Force aircraft squadrons.List of aviation accidents and incidents in Norway
The list includes all aviation accidents and incidents involving airliners in Norway that result in a write-off or fatalities, as well as all hijackings. Helicopter accidents are only included for multi-engined aircraft with fatalities. Military accidents are only included if they have fatalities. The list excludes all accidents during wartime involving military aircraft, which specifically includes the period 8 April 1940 to 8 May 1945. The location denotes current municipalities, which may differ from municipal borders at the time of the accident. Fatalities include people on the ground and people who die within thirty days because of injuries sustained from the accident.List of surviving Consolidated PBY Catalinas
PBY Catalina Survivors identifies Catalinas on display, and includes aircraft designations, status, serial numbers, locations and additional information. The Consolidated PBY Catalina was a twin-engined American flying boat of the 1930s and 1940s, designed by Consolidated Aircraft Co. Several variants were built at five US and Canadian manufacturing plants.Macau Air Transport Company
Macau Air Transport Company (Macao Air Transport Company) was a subsidiary of Cathay Pacific Airways that operated seaplane service between Macau and Hong Kong from 1948 to 1961.
Formed in 1948, the airline operated 2 Consolidated PBY Catalina seaplanes from Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal, Macau (old location using a ramp into the harbour) to Kai Tak Airport in Hong Kong. Miss Macao, one of the MATCO's seaplane was lost in a hijacking.In 1960 ownership by Cathay Pacific ended with Roger Lobo and Stanley Ho as new owners with the airline renamed as Macau Air Transport Company (Hong Kong) Limited. The introduction of a new runway at Kai Tak and conditions in Macau were the beginning of the end of MATCO and service continued until October 1961 when the airline ceased operations.The airline remained registered in Hong Kong up to January 1964 and all remaining aircraft were de-registered by 1967.Martin PBM Mariner
The Martin PBM Mariner was an American patrol bomber flying boat of World War II and the early Cold War era. It was designed to complement the Consolidated PBY Catalina and PB2Y Coronado in service. A total of 1,366 were built, with the first example flying on 18 February 1939 and the type entering service in September 1940.Search and Rescue Wing RAAF
Search and Rescue Wing was a seaplane-equipped unit of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). It was established in October 1947 and renamed No. 11 Squadron in July the next year.The Night They Took Miss Beautiful
The Night They Took Miss Beautiful is a 1977 American made-for-television drama film appearing on the NBC network that was produced by Don Kirshner. The film features a large number of stars in a story about "skyjacking beauty queens" on a Consolidated PBY Catalina. The passengers include five beauty pageant contestants, their entourage, and a secret agent carrying a vial of a secret and highly fatal biological warfare toxin that if opened can cause a pandemic.Wing tip
A wing tip (or wingtip) is the part of the wing that is most distant from the fuselage of a fixed-wing aircraft.
Because the wing tip shape influences the size and drag of the wingtip vortices, tip design has produced a diversity of shapes, including:
Aluminium tube bow
End platesWinglets have become popular additions to high speed aircraft to increase fuel efficiency by reducing drag from wingtip vortices. In lower speed aircraft, the effect of the wingtip shape is less apparent, with only a marginal performance difference between round, square, and Hoerner style tips The slowest speed aircraft, STOL aircraft, may use wingtips to shape airflow for controlability at low airspeeds.
Wing tips are also an expression of aircraft design style, so their shape may be influenced by marketing considerations as well as by aerodynamic requirements.
Wing tips are often used by aircraft designers to mount navigation lights, anti-collision strobe lights, landing lights, handholds, and identification markings.
Wing tip tanks can act as a winglet and distribute weight more evenly across the wing spar.
On fighter aircraft, they may also be fitted with hardpoints, for mounting drop tanks and weapons systems, such as missiles and electronic countermeasures. Wingtip mounted hose/drogue systems allow Aerial refueling of multiple aircraft with separation.
Aerobatic aircraft use wingtip mounted crosses for visual attitude reference. Wingtip mounted smoke systems and fireworks highlight rolling aerobatic maneuvers. Some airshow acts feature the pilot touching or dragging the wingtip along the ground.
Aircraft with a single main landing gear or very high aspect ratio wings such as gliders, may place small landing gear in the wingtips. Some uncommon designs,like the Rutan Quickie, and Convair XFY placed the main landing gear in the wingtips. Some early World War I aircraft used wooded skids on the wingtips to minimize damage on ground looping incidents.
Several amphibious aircraft such as the Consolidated PBY Catalina, use retractable wingtips as floats.
Moveable wingtips can affect the controlability of a wing. Wing warping the ends of the wing, produced roll control on the earliest of aircraft such as the Wright Flyer. The North American XB-70 Valkyrie raised and lowered its wingtips in flight to adjust its stability in supersonic and subsonic flight.
Wingtips can also house the power plant or thrust of an aircraft. The EWR VJ 101 used tip mounted jets, the V-22 uses tilting wingtip mounted engines, and the Harrier uses wingtip thrust for stability while hovering.
Rotary wing aircraft wingtips may be swept or curved to reduce noise and vibration. Some rotary wing aircraft place their propulsion in wingtip tip jets.
|Patrol Torpedo Bomber|
1 Not assigned · 2 Designation reused
Swedish Air Force military aircraft designations 1940–present
Canadian Vickers aircraft
|Produced under license|