No. 8166. Consolidated 28-5ACF PBY-5A Catalina (G-BLSC c/n 1997)
Photographed 1985-1993, source unknown

Consolidated 28-5ACF PBY-5A Catalina

09/30/2008. Built in late 1944 by Consolidated at New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, as a model 28-5A PBY-5A, the aircraft was delivered to the USN under BuNo. 46633 in January 1945. It was withdrawn from service in November 1952 and stored at NAS Litchfield Park, Arizona. In 1956 it was sold and was registered to Trade Ayer, Linden, New Jersey, as N10023, being sold in July 1957 to Miron & Freres, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, registered as CF-MIR.

The aircraft was subsequently converted to a model 28-5ACF Super Canso 1000 twenty-two passenger transport by Timmins Aviation at Montreal. Two 1,700 hp Wright R-2600 Cyclone fourteen-cylinder double-row air-cooled radials replaced the original 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830s, the bow and rear turrets and all other military equipment were removed, a ventral air-stair was fitted, and the tail area was increased with the fitting of a new, larger rudder with a squared off tip. CF-MIR was flown again on December 9, 1960.

The aircraft was registered to Laurentian Air Services of Ottawa, Ontario, in September 1964, a year later it was registered to Survair, also at Ottawa, while in July 1967 it was registered in the USA to Equitable Leasing at Burbank, California, as N608FF. Subsequently it was leased to Firefly of Portland, Oregon, Aeroservice of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Barringer Research of Toronto, Canada. In 1970 the aircraft was again registered in Canada, this time as C-FMIR to Geoterrex of Ottawa, and fitted with a MAD-boom used in survey operations in Europe and South Africa till Geoterrex retired it from service in 1984, the registration was cancelled on December 14, as the aircraft was sold to the UK.

On December 17, 1984 ex-C-FMIR was registered as G-BLSC to John Watson and John Wilson of Plane Sailing Air Displays at Duxford. The following February 14 it left South Africa for the UK, staging through Zambia, Sudan, Egypt, Italy, France, arriving at RAF Barkston Heath, Lincolnshire, on February 20, receiving the RAF marking JV928/Y. On February 4, 1994, the UK registration was cancelled and transferred to Bermuda were it became VR-BPS, registered to the same owners, being reregistered VP-BPS in 1996. The aircraft was severely damaged on July 27, 1998, when upon landing on the Solent near Netley, Southampton, water entered the aircraft through the nose and the aircraft sank rapidly. Of the four crew and fourteen passengers, two passengers drowned, including the Mayor of Southhampton, Michael Andrews.

Recovered the aircraft was stored at Hamble, being sold to Super Catalina Restoration the following year. Restoration was started, while the aircraft was moved to Lasham and then to Lee-on-the Solent. Partly restored the aircraft was sold in 2006 and moved to Weston, Ireland, with the intension to restore it to display condition at a future planned museum at Weston/Dublin Executive Airport.

The markings JV928/Y shown in the photo, are those of the original Catalina Mk.IVA of RAF Coastal Command No. 210 Squadron flown by 24-year old Flying Officer John Alexander Cruickshank on July 17, 1944. Attacking German submarine U-361 west of Narvik, Norway, Cruickshank sustained 12 wounds inflicted by shrapnel from heavy anti-aircraft fire of the submarine (killing his navigator). However, he and his crew managed to sink the submarine (none of the 52 sailors survived) and he maintained in command on the 5,5 hr return flight to Sullom Voe, Shetland, Scotland. Later he received a Victory Cross for his actions and was promoted to Flight Lieutnant.

Created September 30, 2008