First flown in 1935, Consolidated’s original prototype PBY Catalina was powered by two 825 hp (615 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-54 Twin Wasp radial engines mounted on the wing’s leading edge.
By the introduction of the PBY5 variation in 1940, the Catalina had undergone a number of changes including the addition of the large tear shaped acrylic blisters over the waist guns, self sealing wing tanks and the repowering of its engines to the new 1,200 hp Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 engines driving two x 8ft 6in x Hamilton variable-pitch 3 paddle bladed propellers.
With a maximum speed of 178 mph in the air, the Catalina required over 85% full power for take off with its R-1830-92 engines at maximum pitch to break the water’s surface suction.
A critical procedure to ensure both engines and their propellers delivered the combined and balanced thrust required was the synchronisation of the engines RMP and propeller rotation.
Once both engines had been started, the pilot would select the desired RPM on one engine and then spend considerable time adjusting the propeller controls until the engines were4 synchronised perfectly.
Without synchronisation, an annoying and disjointed engine ‘beat’ and vibration would run through the entire cabin and airframe reducing power and fuel economy.
To aid in the synchronisation procedures, the pilot or engineer would adjust the propeller and throttle controls whilst watching the small Synchroscope Indicator mounted in the middle of the main flying panel, adjusting power until the spinning needle balanced either vertically or horizontally above the ’Slow’ and Fast’ needle indicators.
By the early 1950s, the Propeller Division of Curtiss - Wright Corporation had introduced an automatic engine synchronisation system which significantly reduced the pilot’s run up times before take off.
The first PBY5’s were delivered to the RAAF in 1940 as naval patrol aircraft but the declaration of war with Japan quickly changed their roles.
With the fall of Singapore in 1942, many of the RAAF’s Catalinas formed part of a rapid evacuation service from Java and by the last seeks of February that same year, over 7000 service personnel were successfully transported to Broome, Western Australia.
In retribution, Broome was attacked by the Japanese a month later and eight Catalinas were destroyed at their moorings along with a number of other aircraft at the RAAF airbase.
During this period, the Catalinas were the only RAAF long range offensive weapons available and Catalinas were soon despatched to disrupt Japanese shipping and ground forces in Lae and Rabaul.
Used to rescue downed pilots the RAAF’s Catalinas were also deployed to great effect as mine layers with four RAAF squadrons laying mines across the entrances to key ports and passageways forcing Japanese shipping to divert into waters where US submarines lay in wait.
The Catalinas gained a reputation of being confused with the Japanese Kawanishi H6K flying boat and on one mine laying mission a Catalina was mistaken for a H6K and attacked by a US F4F Wildcat who mistook the central red roundel of RAF (still used at that time) for Japanese markings. The incident led to the RAAF removing all red central roundels and in doing so, created the modern RAAF roundel.
Many of these mine laying missions were conducted under the cover or darkness with the Catalinas flying less than 200 m above the surface to escape detection. In 1944 RAAF Catalinas flew missions top the Philippines and laid naval mines in Manila Bay to prevent Japanese forces landing reinforcements to the garrisons there.
No 76 Squadron, with aircraft painted matt black were used to land commandos and reconnaissance of Japanese positions, known as the Blackcats, they initially operated out of Cairns in Far North Queensland before being transferred to Darwin and flew missions as far afield as Java, Borneo, the Philippines and China.
After the Japanese Surrender, RAAF Catalinas were used to ferry Australian POW’s back from South East Asia and continued on in post war times as naval patrol aircraft before being retired in 1952.
The General Electric 88X2200 duel engine Synchroscope Indicator was installed in later production runs of the Catalina MkIII (PBY5A amphibian with retractable landing gear) and PBY2B (with radome dome over the cockpit) and carries service details on the rear of the casing.
Mounted on it’s hundred year old Mango Wood display stand with engraved plaque and highly detailed 1/72 or larger 1/48 scale custom built model of the rugged PBY Catalina perched atop its removable magnetic arm, this is really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to claim your very own piece of iconic aviation history.
Combine this with a highly detailed and informative laminated Fact Sheet with photos of the Synchroscope Indicator mounted in the Catalina cockpit, this Recovery Curios Vintage Aircraft Instrument Collectable would make a fantastic and unforgettable gift for the pilot or aviation enthusiast in your life.
This PBY Catalina Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
Return to PBY Catalina MAIN PAGE
Your PBY Catalina Synchroscope Indicator, Original Recovery Curios Warbird Collectable includes:
- Original Warbird instrument
- Highly detailed hand-built and airbrushed 1/72 plastic scale model of the aircraft.*
- Hand-crafted and beautifully finished 100yr, Far North Queensland Mango Wood display stand
- Detailed, 2-sided, printed and laminated Instrument Fact Sheet detailing aircraft and instrument
- Removable Magnetic Display Arm
*An upgrade to the larger and more detailed 1/48 scale model is also available in the hand-built and airbrushed plastic version for an additional $60 (Click on the 1/48 scale option)
Both the 1/72 & 1/48 scale hand-built and airbrushed plastic models are available with 'wheels & flaps up or down' and 'canopy open or closed' options with a choice of two Squadron markings and camouflage.
Upon order placement you will receive an email asking for your preferred configuration.
Your complete Recovery Curios Original Instrument Collectable is securely packed and delivery normally takes between 4 - 6 weeks approx.
Did you fly, crew or maintain a PBY Catalina or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.