Catalinas of Rio
Drink in this great original Kodachrome of U.S. Navy and Brazilian Air Force (Força Aerea Brasileira – FAB) officers inspect a flight line of depth-charge equipped Brazilian Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina flying boats during graduation exercises of a Brazilian Air Force patrol squadron trained by the U.S. Navy, circa early 1945.
Note Brazilian markings on the plane, whose wing shows signs of a party painted-out U.S. markings and that the Catalina closest to the camera still carries the name “Bettye Jayne” above its Brazilian star roundel.
From June 1942 onward, the U.S. Navy was busy running anti-submarine sweeps off the South Atlantic from Brazil during the war. Catalinas and later PB2Y Coronados of VP-74 flew from the Naval Air Station at Natal, Brazil while VPB-145 and VP-94 had PBY5A dets from both Belem and Wideawake Field on Ascension Island until discontinued in April 1945, losing one plane and crew in an accident.
During this period, the Navy turned Catalinas to the Brazilians, who trained alongside the American naval aviators and ground crew.
One, Arará, was credited with sinking a German Type IXD2 U-Boat, U-199.
Post-war, the Brazilians would keep some, flying them in the Amazon basin, and sell others to domestic airlines Panair do Brasil and Cruzeiro for use as sea-air taxis.
Augmented by retired Canadian models, Brazil was the last country to keep the type operational, with the FAB only retiring the Catalina in 1982– more than 25 years after the USN moved on. Today, two (ex-USN BuNo 46643 and ex RCAF Canadian Canso A 9752) are preserved in Brazilian museums.