Thursday, 1 January 2015


On our last trip to Duxford Air Museum we saw the PBN amphibian.  I have always been impressed by the shape and grace of this aeroplane and recall making an Airfix kit of the aircraft when I was a pre-teen.

Having a few discount points and a sale price at "Just Flight", I purchased this aeroplane for my flight simulator before Christmas with the intention of flying it around the simulated Pacific.  It owes me the price of two coffees and a bun!
The sim aircraft came in 3 marks (PBY-5, PBY-5a and PBY-6a) with a full flight manual and a programming patch to adjust the flight characteristics to match the different types.  This is an awkward beast to fly well.
The engines are the problem - if they run too long in idle, they carbon up and stop.  They cannot be re-started until the plugs on the cylinder heads have been cleaned.  If the oil temperature goes too high, the engines suffer a rapid loss of power and must cool down before re-starting.  You have to fly this aeroplane with one eye on the engine temperature gauges.
The trick is to make sure that the engine cooling cowls are fully open, take off with fuel boost on at 80% throttle, fuel boost off at 1000 feet and run on 70% throttle when in level flight.  The PBY will fly at about 110 knots and has a tendency to drift to the right as a result of engine torque.  Trimming for level flight is a fiddly business.
 The PBY-5 is a seaplane and must be operated from water.  There is a beaching trolley with which to pull the aeroplane up onto land. (PB is the acronym for Patrol Bomber - the Y is a manufacturers code for Consolidated Aircraft)
 The PBY-5a is a fully amphibious machine and was equipped with radar as well as having a range of anti-submarine weapons and rescue kit.
The PBY-6a is a more comfortable machine with seating bays and a primitive autopilot system.
All of these aircraft lack flaps and spoilers.  Speed control relies on engine performance and flight attitude.  It takes a bit of time and skill to fly this aeroplane well, but once you have the limits defined, it is a joy to fly.  You just have to accept that this aircraft will get to your destination in its own time.
 Just remember to drop the wing floats before landing on water.

I am delighted that I can now fly this aeroplane without stalling the engines.  It is easy if you know where you want the aeroplane to be in 10 miles time and you have the distance in which to descend slowly.

PBY Catalina Simulation by Aerosoft for Microsoft FSX

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