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They Like Water Part 2

C-FHHR Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (c/n 300) undergoing
preflight checks for ferry to Catair - April 1995

C-FHHR Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina (c/n 300) undergoing preflight checks prior to a ferry flight for delivery to Catair in The Netherlands - April 1995 - They Like Water Part 2 - © Caz Caswell

Photographic Copyright Caz Caswell © 1995

Related Notes and Links

Douglas Holland writes::
The brief notes Caz applied to the photograph intrigued me immensely as when photographed in April 1995 the Aircraft was already 54 years old and it is still active today in 2009. So I did some quick internet research and discovered this aircraft has a truly fascinating (if some what incomplete) history, which starts with an apparent conundrum. The result is that the notes have become far more extensive than I envisaged and have been divided into the into the following sections:

  Related Links         From Hero to Zero         Going Dutch         Reborn to be a Star         Links         Footnote  

Who Are You:
A small number of usually reliable Sites assert this Aircraft is NOT a Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina , but a Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso c/n CV-300 (Canadian built equivalent of the PBY-5A) and was delivered to the Royal Canadian Air Force as serial 11022 on the 3th December 1943 and Struck off charge 10th January 1945!
My research indicates the is the Aviation Equivalent of an Urban Myth

The truth is that this Aircraft is Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina c/n 300 , which was was completed on the 21st November 1941. Allocated to the United States Navy , as 02459 and was Struck off charge in 1945.

From Hero to Zero:
Having been allocated to the USN, 02459 went to war on operations in Icelandic Waters and was obviously flown by top-flight crews as this Aircraft was responsible for: Damaging U-464 so severely her commander scuttled her, Sinking U-582 and U-194 in addition, some sources state 02459 was responsible for seriously damaging U-528 but there appears to be NO evidence to support this as this U-Boat was first damaged by convoy escorts and then sunk by depth charges from a Handley Page Halifax aircraft and the sloop HMS Fleetwood.
The Aircraft retired from the USN, by being struck off charge in 1945.

It appears the Aircraft was not active for approximately a year before being purchased by Rio-Ten Airways (and I believe underwent a major transport conversion) registered NC18446 later change to N18446.
In 1953 the Aircraft left Rio-Ten and its operational history is almost unknown, with one exception!

During 1961 it was used during the filming of the original 'Flipper' movie released in 1963.

For the next four years, activities unknown, but in may 1965 it joined the Transair Fleet as CF-HHR. It remained with Transair for 5 years.

in 1970 it was acquired by Field Aviation for conversion into a water bomber for Avalon Aviation based at Parry Sound

Whilst one expects a Canadian Registered Water Bomber to operate some of the time,, South of the Border, into the USA, in Avalon Service this Aircraft went a lot further south and for a time operated in Chile!

In 1979 the Canadian Registration system changed and CF-HHR became C-FHHR, but continued operating with Avalon until 1988 when it was retired from active service and placed in open storage at Parry Sound.

Avalon went into receivership and C-FHHR whilst remaining in open storage, was involved in strange registered owner swap, from Avalon, to the Powell Corporation, thence back to Avalon (still in receivership).

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Going Dutch:
In April 1994 Catair of the Netherlands (owned by Marien van Schie) purchased C-FHHR from the receivers, but after years in open storage the Aircraft needed work before it could be moved from Parry Sound and Avalon remained the registered owner for the 10 months until 21st February 1995 when the company of registration passed to 1121389 Ontario Inc.

Soon after this change the Aircraft was ferried from Parry Sound to Field Aviation at Toronto International Airport for final preparation and installation of 16 Airline Style Seats. The Seat fit delayed things and it wasn't until April 1995 (when Caz took the above photograph) that the Aircraft was ready to be ferried to the Netherlands

Although the Aircraft was now in the Netherlands and undergoing further restoration including the installation of the distinctive Catalina Blisters, the Aircraft retained its Canadian Registry and this was passed to Anatares Air Services in June 1995 and finally to Enterprise Air (Antares Owners) on the last day of November 1995. On the 11th April 1996 registration C-FHHR was cancelled (I suspect the authorities had decided, enough was enough). The cancelling of the Canadian Registration gave Catair a huge problem as Dutch Registry had NOT yet been approved!

But where there is a will there is away and the Aircraft 'magically' appeared on the United States Register as N27311 on the 19th April 1995 with Western Aviation Maintenance (of Mesa Arizona) as registered owner and this appears to have been the start of a relationship with the Dutch Warbird Community which continued for some years.

On the 06th February 1997 the Aircraft made it onto the Dutch Register as PH-PBY the registration it retains to this day), painted in pre-1942 Dutch Naval Air Service Markings the Aircraft began to earn its keep on the European Airshow Circuit. Unfortunately despite best efforts of Catair and some exciting plans, costs were well in excess of revenue and in 1998 Catair gave up the struggle and ceased operations.

Almost immediately the Militaire Luchtvaart Museum (Dutch Air Force Museum) , which had provided the distinctive blister Canopies and had retained ownership, reclaimed them and in the process caused considerable damage to the airframe in these areas. To cover the gaping holes the removal of the blisters caused, simple patches were fitted slightly exacerbating the damage.

On the 11th May 1999 PH-PBY was ferried from Lelystad to the Dutch Naval Air Service Station at Valkenburg , which ended with the crew discovering they had almost no brakes and having to steer the Aircraft on to the Grass to provide natural braking to bring it to a safe stop.

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Reborn to be a Star:
Although this was another 'low point' in the Aircraft's career, it now came under the care of the Stichting Neptune Association , who started the immense task of totally restoring PH-PBY to 'tip-top' condition. This took from 2000 to 2004 with Dutch Air Force Museum once again allowing its Blister Canopies to be refitted.

On the 6th July 2004 the immaculately restored aircraft was granted its new Certificate of Airworthiness, nearly 63 Years after it left the factory!

At time of writing PH-PBY is managed and operated by the PBY 5-A Catalina Foundation , and each year is one of the Stars of the European Air show circuit in an evocative Dutch Naval Air Service scheme and long may she be so!

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PH-PBY Directly Related Links:
The Dutch Catalina PH-PBY restored! - Article by Ruud Leeuw - In English
Although this article covers much of the same ground as the above notes (including some interesting snippets NOT included above), the main theme is the restoration of the Aircraft by Stichting Neptune Association, including some great photographs.
If my notes have fuelled your interest in this Aircraft, then this article is a 'Must Read'.
Also visit: Ruud Leeuw's Web Site where there are many Articles, Summaries and Photographs of interest.

PBY 5-A Catalina Foundation - In Dutch

Stichting Neptune Association - In Dutch

Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina 16-28 (aka PH-PBY) Page - Touchdown Aviation Site

Consolidated PBY-5 and Canadian Vickers PBV-1 Links:
World Catalina News - The Catalina Society (Operators of Canadian Vickers PBV-1A Canso G-PBYA)

PBY Catalina - Wikipedia Entry   -   Consolidated Aircraft - Wikipedia Entry   -   Canadian Vickers - Wikipedia Entry

PBY Catalina survivors - Wikipedia Entry   -   List of PBY Catalina Operators - Wikipedia Entry

Slightly off the main topic, but very interesting:
Catalina Affair: A Cold War incident - Wikipedia Entry

Other Links:
On this Site see the Album:   10 Years at Field Aviation  

Field Aviation - Official Site

Militaire Luchtvaart Museum (Dutch Air Force Museum)

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If, when visiting this page, you notice any errors, or can assist to fill in the missing years of the History of this Aircraft, please contact Caz via the Link below.

However any errors are entirely mine, so don't blame/shout at Caz!
Douglas Holland:

To Comment on this site, or to discuss the use of
one, or more photographs - click on:-

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