Our PBY Catalina 5A Aircraft On Display

Visit the Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum (PNWNAM) for a tour of our vintage amphibious aircraft.

PBY Catalina 5A

PBY stands for Patrol Bomber, the “Y” simply denotes the manufacturer which was Consolidated Aircraft Co. The PBY was an incredibly versatile airplane that could land on both water and land runways. They could drop torpedoes, depth charges, and bombs, while defending themselves with multiple high-caliber machine guns. These unique aircraft were used all over the world, especially along coastal areas, to patrol for enemy fleets and perform rescues.


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The Father of the PBY

Isaac M. Laddon lead the design of the PBY for Consolidated Aircraft.


In 1927, after an extensive career in preliminary engineering, Isaac M. Laddon joined Consolidated Aircraft and led the design of the prototype for the flying boat. On October 28, 1933, this prototype resulted in Consolidated receiving the contract from the U.S Navy for 60 PBY-1s, making it the largest aircraft order in the U.S. Consolidated made a total of 2,387 planes for the U.S Navy and 636 planes for other states and organizations. The first squadron received their PBY aircraft on October 5, 1936.


Plans to create the second naval installation on the Puget Sound began on January 18, 1941. The area selected was Crescent Harbor and Maylors Point in Oak harbor. Naval development also included the creation of Ault Field known today as NAS Whidbey Island. With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 the base was starting to expand rapidly with additional personnel, planes, and facilities.

Seaplane Base Under Construction

Land was cleared, tons of rock were dumped, and immense amounts of concrete was poured.

PBY on the Tarmac in Oak Harbor

The hanger behind the aircraft is now the Navy Exchange.


In December of 1942, the first PBY squadrons began flying out of Oak Harbor’s newly-built seaplane base. These patrol bomber squadrons played an important role in the Pacific, flying missions to Dutch Harbor, Cold Bay, Umnak, Nazan Bay, Adak, Amchitka, Shemya and Attu. The PBYs’ mission included a variety of responsibilities, including training, patrol, bombing, reconnaissance, and search and rescue.

JUNE 1942

During WWII, due to their age and capabilities, the PBYs played a largely defensive role with missions increasingly focused on search, rescue and transport. This PBY crew was the first to spot the approaching Japanese Fleet before the Battle of Midway.

The Battle of Midway

This PBY crew discovered the Japanese fleet before the battle.

PBY Makes An Emergency Landing

 LTJF Lloyd G. Alvey atop the wing of his PBY-6A after emergency landing in the Solomon Islands during WWII.

JUNE 1949

By the end of 1943, PBYs began withdrawing and were replaced by Martin PBM Mariners. On June 1, 1949, the last squadron in the U.S. Navy reported the last Catalina in its inventory.

MAY 1965

Our PBY-5A Catalina in 1965 shortly after being purchased from the Navy. Note the civilian registration number on the back of the hull looks temporarily chalked on and a new turret in the nose and well weathered paint radar dome are gone. All the external antennas were removed and it was demilitarized by stripping out the guns.

Our PBY Which We Have Nicknamed Gigi

This picture was taken shortly after the aircraft was sold as surplus by the Navy in 1965.

Restoration In Progress

Volunteers are lovingly restoring our vintage aircraft, come see for yourself!


Our PBY-5A Catalina is on display in downtown Oak Harbor, WA and open for public tours with the purchase of museum admission. We are in the process of restoration to what she would have looked like when she served. Please see below for some of the items that are still on our restoration needs list. 


This is a list of missing items and work that remains to finish on the restoration of our PBY Catalina. If you have and are willing to donate any of the missing items, or can help in any other way, please contact us.

  • Pilot and Copilot Control Wheels
  • Mattresses, slipcovers, Navy blankets, small pillows, pillow slips for each bunk (4).
  • Radar Dome
  • Float Lights. Mk IV Aircraft Float Light, 17 needed for aft of bulkhead #7.
  • Mk 7 Drift Sight.
  • Earphones, Microphones and microphone clips are needed for the 9 workstations.  
  • Norden MK XV Bombsight.
  • Bottom tail compartment .30 cal machine gun mounts.
  • .50 and .30 cal machine gun cans (magazines) and racks for all guns.
  • .50 cal machine gun mounts for the waist guns
  • Ejected link and casing containers for all machine guns.
  • Fire extinguishers.
  • Radar/IFF and communications equipment.
  • Gunner Safety Belts (Bow, Tunnel and Waists).
  • Bookcase for papers and books on top of Special Radio Equipment Rack.
  • Radioman’s clock panel, Radioman’s Clock and radio receiving equipment antenna jacks, Radioman’s Telegraph Key.
  • Batteries below Radioman’s Seat.
  • Buoy Hook wound with 100′ of 1² Manila rope.
  • Two lengths of Manila rope 1-1/2² X 150′ each. Stow in tool box in Engineer’s compartment.
  • Spotlight Stowage. Case mounts on hull stringers below aft end of Navigation Table.
  • Aldis Lamp and Case.
  • First Aid Kit and Mounts on forward face of bulkhead #6.
  • Navigator’s watches (2).
  • Flight Engineers seat and seat belt/shoulder harness
  • Flight Engineers Instruments Panel and instruments.
  • Mk 1 Very Pistol and Adapter Sleeve to be mounted on hull in Waist Hatch.
  • Anchor and Mooring Pendant.  Cable reel and cable.
  • Clock for middle left hand side of Flight Engineer’s panel.
  • Navigator’s panel with instruments (airspeed indicator, 8-Day clock, altimeter and electric air thermometer).
  • Dynamotor Type-AD-7 will be mounted on stringers below radio desk in front of Radioman’s feet.
  • GO9 Radio Transmitter.
  • ASV II voltage control unit.
  • ASV II radar transmitter Type T-3040 and mount, Special Radio Equipment rack.
  • An Auxiliary Power Unit composed of: an Eclipse B 4 hp one cylinder gasoline engine with attached Eclipse NEM or NEP-2 generator, with or without a Romec bilge pump. This bilge pump, if present, operates off the engine’s power take off (PTO) and is optional. We would be happy to find any component by itself or a copy of original assembly plans. We will accept these or parts in any condition as long as they are identifiable.
  • Lawson 2 hp one cylinder gasoline engine with attached Stewart-Warner Model 782-A Heater Blower/Supercharger for heater system. At any altitude this unit provides a continuous flow of a 15-to-1 ratio air and fuel to all of the heater units which are in place throughout the aircraft. This unit does not have to be operational.
  • One additional 2# CO2 fire bottle needed on aft face of Bulkhead #5.
  • Life Rafts, parachutes and pouches.
  • Rig tether retractors for .50 Cal machine gunners.
  • May West life jackets and canvas pockets.
  • Bomb racks, torpedo racks.
  • Cockpit Instrument panel and instruments.
  • APS-3 RADAR Equipment


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