AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

PBY-5A CATALINA

Product Information

Publisher: Abacus

Description: Historical Military/Civilian Twin Engined Flying Boat.

Download Size:
38 MB

Format:
Download
Simulation Type:
FS2004 & FSX SP1/SP2 & Acceleration
Reviewed by: Laurie Aston AVSIM Staff Reviewer - May 19, 2008

Introduction

The PBY Catalina was an American flying boat which started its life in the 1930’s and was developed for the 1940’s. It could carry a varying amount of ordinance in the form of depth charges, bombs, and torpedoes; and was equipped with .50 Browning machine guns for protection.
It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II. The aircraft was used in the role of anti-submarine warfare, patrol bomber, convoy escort, search and rescue and also as a transport plane.

Even today, over 70 years after its maiden flight, the aircraft continues to fly in a demanding role as an aerial firefighting tanker in operations all over the world.

Takeoff roll Smoothly airborne Catalina Firefighter

The aircraft was built not only by Consolidated Aircraft, but under license by Vickers Canada and Boeing Aircraft too. It has a very robust fuselage and hull, and can take a lot of punishment in its landing and takeoff phases, resulting in very long takeoff runs in difficult conditions. A 3 mile takeoff run is indeed a long time to endure sheets of water bursting over and around the cockpit, and being churned to spray by the propellers thrashing through it all.

Its two Pratt and Whitney PW-R-1830-92 Twin Wasp Radial engines proved very reliable with their output of 1200 HP. Each helped it to cruise at a sedate 125 mph with a maximum cruise of 196 mph, if required. The rate of climb is normally 1000 feet per minute, and its maximum ceiling height is 15,800 amsl.

For anyone interested in why it has the designation PBY, The P stands for Patrol, the B for Boat, and the Y was the designated letter for Consolidated Aircraft. Therefore, PBY differentiated this aircraft from other Patrol Boat types.

Installation and Documentation

The PBY-5A Catalina is designed to run in FS9, FSX SP1 and SP2 (Acceleration) and is downloaded from the Abacus web site with the minimum of fuss. You can even test fly this title before purchasing it, an ideal opportunity to “try before you buy” in order to confirm the quality and finish etc. A real step forward in customer relations in my opinion.

Installation was quick and easy, and the result is a very pleasing Catalina in four liveries. The download even includes a paint kit with which to design a paint scheme for your own aircraft.

The PBY-5A Catalina

The Aircraft is very nicely detailed and finished, it flies very well and simulates its lumbering, hauling nature perfectly. It is very robust and although sensitive to roll and pitch, hauls around a 180 degree turn very sedately.

Catalina 433924 Preparing for taxi 433924 over LHI

Landing on water is neatly carried out, with plumes of spray trailing behind the aircraft as you would expect. Although the takeoff roll on water doesn’t create as much water disturbance as I have seen in films featuring the PBY, it appears to be a Microsoft programming thing rather than anything Abacus could have created, and that aside it is a pleasure to fly up to the maximum ceiling height of nearly 16,000 feet.

The Pratt and Whitney Engines are very well depicted. The cowlings housing the Twin Wasps are perfectly formed, the propellers are correctly labeled and tipped and the retractable landing gear is a delight to watch during extend or retract mode. When you taxi slowly up to a sandy shoreline and drop the gear, a bit of throttle will get you up onto the sand and on to dry land.

Look at the detail One wasp buzzing Twin wasps buzzing
Nice water trails Gear & Floats down Touchdown

Below are photos of the four liveries that are included in the package, plus a white finished Catalina just waiting for a detailed paint job of the owners choice.

A Black Catalina Catalina 433924
Paint stripped USN Catalina

Panels

The Panels are very well detailed and function well. With a choice of Either a 2D Cockpit or a Virtual Cockpit, and including at least three other stations, there is plenty to keep you busy, apart from flying this gentle giant that is, and the icons that guide you to the various stations are very easy to use. The panels give you a lot of information about what is functioning and what isn’t, and this adds another dimension to operating this super aircraft realistically.

2D instruments Overhead Throttles Virtual Cockpit
Flight Engineer Navigator Station Radio Operator

Sounds

The 2 twin wasp P&W Radial engines sound really good, especially when the throttles are in takeoff mode, which means that the sound man has got the acoustics and realism just right. The sounds roaring off those two big engines really rumbles right through you.

At startup, the starter whine and initial cough and splutter is also very good, and when the engines fire up and settle into idle mode, the sounds are convincing enough to remember not to go anywhere near the propeller arc for fear of losing your head. Actually, from the ground to the prop tip there is plenty of headroom, but working or climbing anywhere up on top of the hull behind the cockpit is a dangerous practice when the engines are running.

Why would you want to do that anyway? The sheer pleasure of starting these twin wasps up and getting ready to fly is enough excitement without running around outside on top of the hull.

Summary/Closing Remarks

Test System

Asrock K7S41GX Motherboard
AMD Sempron 2600+ CPU
2 Gig DDR Memory
Nvidia Gforce6200-256 graphics
2x80 gig HD’s +400 gig External USB HD
Windows XP Pro SP3
FS 2004 & FSX Sp1/Sp2 Acceleration pack
Microsoft Force Feedback Sidewinder + Rudder Control
CH flight yoke

Flying Time:
13 hours

This product is a worthy addition to anyone’s “hangar” and for versatility, it is a very useful aircraft with a steady speed range and a slow climb rate. For training purposes it is an ideal craft. For plying between the Caribbean Islands, where both water and land runways can be used, or other water covered areas of your choice, this is an ideal workhorse.

Having no flaps means that the approach speed is slow enough because of that huge straight but thick chord wing, and with a gentle handling of throttles and elevators, the aircraft will float down onto the water very gently. Landing on a tarmac surface is just as easy, and very satisfying when done correctly.

This aircraft looks good, feels good and is good. Being a bit picky, I would like to have seen a bit more wear and tear on the panels, given the average age of the PBY-5A, but I can live with what we have. The detailed finish and especially the landing gear area is superb, even the rear side blisters rotate to give entry or exit to this super airplane, and are well above the water to be capable of opening them when on water without sinking the ship.

Turning the aircraft round on the water is a delicate combination of rudder and differential throttle, and gives great satisfaction when carried out accurately.

OK, so this one is a winner, and if more colour schemes are made available then so much the better. You can always design your own with the paint kit provided.

 

What I Like About The PBY-5A Catalina

  • A very useful download facility and “test fly” operation without parting with hard earned cash in the first instance
  • A well modeled, detailed aircraft with fully retractable gear and floats, which handles reasonably well on land or in water
  • A choice of Catalina paint schemes, all accurate and in well finished colours
  • Detailed P & W twin Wasp engines which look and sound realistic
  • The ability to taxi out of the water and on to dry land. Now that is neat!
  • A proper manual with enough reading to keep anyone happy.

 

What I Don't Like About The PBY-5A Catalina

  • Picky I know, but only four working liveries are a bit restrictive, considering there are a lot of museum examples to choose from.

 

Printing

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PBY-5A Catalina

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The review above is a subjective assessment of the product by the author. There is no connection between the producer and the reviewer, and we feel this review is unbiased and truly reflects the performance of the product in the simming environment. This disclaimer is posted here in order to provide you with background information on the reviewer and any connections that may exist between him/her and the contributing party.

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