Consolidated P2Y Flying Boat

Consolidated P2Y Flying Boat

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Consolidated P2Y Flying Boat

The Consolidated P2Y was the second flying boat to be designed by Consolidated for the US Navy, and the first to be produced by that company. Consolidated had previously designed the XPY-1, but this aircraft had been produced as the Martin P3M (only nine were built).

The P2Y was a significant improvement on the P3M, and is generally considered to have been the first modern patrol aircraft to serve with the US Navy. It remained in use as a front line aircraft for eight years, from 1933, and this period saw the US Navy develop the operating procedures that they would later use with the much more numerous PBY Catalina.


Consolidated were awarded a contract to develop the new flying boat on 26 May 1931. Although the P2Y used the same wing as the XPY-1/ P3M, it was twelve feet longer than the earlier aircraft. The crew were carried in enclosed compartments within the fuselage.

The XP2Y-1 was built with three Wright R-1820-E Cyclone engines, each giving 575hp. Two were mounted between the wing and the fuselage, as on the XPY-1, with the third above the wing. Flight tests proved that the third engine did not improve the performance of the aircraft, and it was soon removed.

The outrigger floats of the XP2Y-1 were supported on a small lower wing, level with the top of the fuselage. This small wing gave the XP2Y-1 a much larger wing surface area than the XPY-1 (1,514 sq ft, up from 1,115 sq ft), and also reduced drag.

The first flight of the XP2Y-1 was made on 26 March 1932, nine months after Consolidated received a production order for the aircraft.


The P2Y-1 was the production version of the XP2Y-1. Twenty three were ordered on 7 July 1931, and the first squadron to receive the new aircraft was VP-10S, on 1 February 1933. The first 22 aircraft were powered by a pair of 575hp Wright RE-1820E Cylone engines, while the last aircraft was used as the XP2Y-2 prototype. The P2Y-1 was also used by squadron VP-5F.


The final P2Y-1 was used as the prototype XP2Y-2. This aircraft was given more powerful 700hp Wright R-1820-88 Cyclone engines, and the engines were moved from their position below the wing into nacelles on the leading edge of the wing. This new arrangement helped to reduce drag, and improved the performance of the aircraft.


The designation P2Y-2 was given to P2Y-1s that were updated to match the XP2Y-2, with engines in the wings.


The twenty three P2Y-3s were ordered on 27 December 1933. They were similar to the XP2Y-2, with their engines mounted in nacelles in the front of the wing, but were given 750hp Wright R-1820-99 Cyclone engines. The P2Y-3 entered service in 1935, and survived as a front line aircraft until 1941. The last P2Y in squadron service was a P2Y-3 of squadron VP-43, still in use on 31 March 1941. By the end of 1941 all surviving P2Ys had moved to NAS Pensacola, where they were used as training aircraft.

Stats for P2Y-3
Crew: 5
Engine: Two Wright R-1820-90 Cyclones
Power: 700hp
Width: 100ft
Length: 61ft 9in )
Height: 17ft 3in
Empty Weight: 11,829lbs
Gross Weight: 20,545lbs
Range: 1,780 miles
Armament: One .30in machine guns in nose, two in gun hatches behind the wings.


Initially created to compete for a U.S. Navy contract dated February 28, 1928, the prototype Model 9, XPY-1, was designed by Captain Dick Richardson and Isaac M. 'Mac' Laddon. Beginning construction in March 1928, the aircraft was ready for its first flight by the end of the year. Lieutenant A. W. Gorton made the first flight out of Anacostia NAS, Washington, D.C.. [3]

The production contract was opened to other bidders, and the Glenn L. Martin Company undercut and was awarded the contract to construct the plane as the Martin P3M-1 and P3M-2. [3] Three P3M-1s and six P3M-2s were built [4] one XP2M-1 was also built to a similar design, powered by three Wright Cyclone engines following the removal of the third engine it was redesignated XP2M-2. [5] The idea of a third engine on the XPY-1 had been studied and rejected by Navy Bureau of Aeronautics staff. [6]

A new contract was placed by the U.S. Navy on May 26, 1931, for a prototype of a developed version of the Model 9, XPY-1, designated the Model 22 Ranger by Consolidated. Incorporating features of the Model 16 Commodore such as the enclosed flight deck, [2] designated the XP2Y-1 by the Navy, this new prototype had the same 100 ft parasol wing, but became a sesquiplane with a smaller wing mounted lower, at the top of the hull, replacing the booms that had supported the stabilizing pontoons on the XPY-1. Two Wright R-1820-E1 Cyclone engines were located close below the top wing and had narrow-chord cowlings. A third similar engine was mounted on a strut along the centerline above the wing, but removed after the first test in April 1932. [1]

The Navy ordered 23 P2Y-3s as production models similar to the P2Y-2s that were modified from the original batch of P2Y-1.

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1. See Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1968), 93–94 and John Wegg, General Dynamics Aircraft and Their Predecessors (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990), 65–67. The latter volume is the more complete.

2. Consolidated, formed in 1923, became Consolidated Vultee in 1943 by a merger of the two firms and was acquired by General Dynamics in 1953–54.

Consolidated Commodore and the new era in flying boat design of the 1930s

The Consolidated Commodore is a close relative to the P2Y. It differs by having one wing (dropping the small lower wing for wind floats), more powerful engines and a passenger cabin layout. It was used successfully by a handful of airlines—notably the New York, Rio, Buenos Aires Line which was forced to merge with Pan American Airways. Maximum passenger capacity was fourteen but at the expense of range. The Commodore was a solid, dependable and capable flying boat demonstrating the potential for reliable international flight which lead to the larger flying boats used so successfully by PAA as the flying clippers.

Consolidated Commodore “Cuba” of the New York, Rio, Buenos Aires Line—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore “Havana” of the New York, Rio, Buenos Aires Line in flight—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore “Cuba” near shore—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Early Consolidated Commodore testing—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore starboard profile—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Early Consolidated Commodore (like the Consolidated P2Y the Commodore began as a trimotor)—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore’s port Pratt & Whitney radial engine—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore coming to the dock—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore’s port side wing float—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore’s twin tail detail—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore in flight with a trimotored aircraft for scale—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated Commodore’s enclosed cockpit of the “Rio De Janerio” (New York, Rio, Buenos Aires Line ) as well as hull prow detail—San Diego Air and Space Museum archive

Consolidated P2Y Ranger

The Ranger was the Navy’s first monoplane patrol aircraft. It enjoyed a long and productive service life and broke several world records for distance flying.

In 1928 the Navy contracted with Consolidated to design and build a monoplane flying boat to replace its aging Naval Aircraft Factory PN series. Consolidated built the XPY1, a large parasol aircraft (a highmounted wing on a single pylon) with a 100foot wingspan and three engines. One engine was mounted above the wings in a nacelle, but it was subsequently deleted. However, owing to a lower bid from Martin, the Navy awarded it the construction contract in 1931, and nine were constructed as the P3M. Undeterred, Consolidated rerefined its existing design into a new aircraft, the XP2Y1. It was a twin-engine sesquiplane, that is, a biplane with a shorter lower wing. The two engines were mounted on struts between the wings, and the cockpit was fully enclosed. The Navy was impressed with its performance and in 1933 authorized 23 machines produced as the P2Y1 Ranger. These were followed by an additional 23 P2Y3s, which sported stronger engines the engine nacelles were faired directly into the wing’s leading edge to reduce drag.

The Ranger proved itself to be a rugged and dependable aircraft, capable of oceanic flights. In September 1933 Lieutenant Commander Donald M. Carpenter of Patrol Squadron VP5 made history by flying six P2Y1s nonstop from Norfolk, Virginia, to Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, a distance of 2,059 miles. In January 1934 Lieutenant Commander Knefler McGinnis led six P2Y1s of VP10 from San Francisco 2,408 miles west to Hawaii, another world record. In each instance all aircraft performed up to expectations. The P2Ys remained actively employed in American service until 1941, when they went into storage. Ironically, one Ranger sold to Japan served as the basis for the Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat of World War II.

Dimensions: wingspan, 100 feet; length, 61 feet, 9 inches; height, 19 feet, 1 inch

Weights: empty, 12,769 pounds; gross, 25,266 pounds

Power plant: 2 × 750–horsepower Wright R1820 radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 139 miles per hour; ceiling, 16,100 feet; maximum range, 1,180 miles


The description given fits the Consolidated P2Y Ranger very closely. The P2Y was the US Navy's first modern flying boat and was designed as a patrol bomber. Originally a parasol wing monoplane, the design evolved into a sesquiplane format with two engines faired into the top wing. Another innovation was a fully enclosed cockpit. A total of 78 were built and the type had a long and useful service life in the US Navy, including being used for several record breaking flights which demonstrated its long range. The design of the Ranger would also inspire its successor, the PBY Catalina which was produced in large numbers and hugely successful.

There is no record of any Rangers being sold to China. However the type was retired from the US Navy in 1941. It is plausible that the old and retired aircraft could have been supplied to China to help rebuild its air force which had been substantially depleted during the war with Japan. There is however a record of 2 Consolidated Model 16 Commodores serving with the China National Aviation Corporation. The Commodore was the civilian version of the P2Y and in fact pre-dated some of the later variants of the Ranger. Ώ]

So Johns almost hit the nail on the head but missed on some details. If he had only chosen the Commodore for Biggles. Or if he had only chosen a Catalina. There are definitely records of Catalinas serving with the Chinese Air Force.

World War II Database

ww2dbase Consolidated Aircraft built the prototype Model 9 XPY-1 in 1928 in response to a United States Navy request. In 1931, US Navy issued an order for the new prototype aircraft Model 22 Ranger XP2Y, the design which would become the P2Y-1 flying boats that would enter service by mid-1933. They were parasol monoplanes with fabric-covered wings, and their hulls were made of aluminum. In 1935, the P2Y-2 variant aircraft began entering service. In 1936, at least 21 of the P2Y-1 aircraft were modified to the P2Y-2 specification. Around the time when the United States entered WW2, all P2Y aircraft were withdrawn from front line service and were relocated to Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Jacksonville in Flordia, United States for training missions. About 70 P2Y aircraft of all variant designs were built and sold to the US Navy.

ww2dbase One P2Y-1 aircraft, redesignated P2Y-1C, was sold to Colombia in Dec 1932 this aircraft saw combat as a combat during the 1932-1933 Colombia-Peru War. Another P2Y-1 aircraft, redesignated P2Y-1J, was sold to Japan in Jan 1935 this aircraft was designated by the Japanese Navy as Consolidated Navy Experimental Type C Flying Boat and was only used in evaluation flights. Six P2Y-3 aircraft, redesignated P2Y-3A, were sold to Argentina. These 8 examples sold abroad brought the total number built to 78.

ww2dbase Source: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Aug 2014

10 Jan 1929 P2Y aircraft took its first flight, piloted by Lieutenant A. W. Gorton out of Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington DC, United States.
26 May 1931 US Navy issued an order for Consolidated Aircraft to build the prototype aircraft Model 22 Ranger XP2Y-1.
7 Jul 1931 US Navy issued an order from Consolidated Aircraft for 23 P2Y-3 aircraft.
1 Feb 1933 US Navy squadron VP-10 based at at Norfolk, Virginia, United States received the first delivery of P2Y-1 flying boat.


Machinerytwo Wright R-1820-90 Cyclone radial engines rated at 750hp each
Armament1x7.62mm flexible bow M1919 Browning machine gun, 2x7.62mm flexible dorsal M1919 Browning machine guns, 910kg of bombs
Span30.48 m
Length18.82 m
Height5.82 m
Wing Area140.65 m²
Weight, Empty5,792 kg
Weight, Loaded11,460 kg
Speed, Maximum240 km/h
Speed, Cruising189 km/h
Rate of Climb3.30 m/s
Service Ceiling4,265 m
Range, Normal1,899 km

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1934 Consolidated P2Y Flying Boat Patent Print - Aircraft Invention - Airplane Design Blueprint
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Consolidated P2Y Ranger

While many are very familiar with the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat, this was not the first flying boat from Consolidated. This newest title in the Naval Fighters range examines the predecessor, the P2Y Ranger. While the majority of the book covers that plane, it actually does a great job of describing the evolution of the patrol flying boat in US Navy service, starting back in 1911 with Curtiss flying boats. From there it continues on through the later Curtiss F5L and H-16 to flying boat designs from Naval Aircraft Factory, Boeing, Douglas, Keystone, Martin, and Hall, before finally arriving at the Consolidated XPY-1 in the late 1920s.

The XPY-1 was designed to a specification that called for nonstop operations between the United States and Hawaii, and it featured a 100-foot fabric covered wing and a metal fuselage. With some minor structural changes, this evolved into the Consolidated Model 16 Commodore, a civil flying boat that operated between the US and South America. While this design proved itself a solid performer, Consolidated convinced the Navy to push for an improved patrol flying boat, which became the XP2Y-1 Ranger

The primary visual difference between the earlier XPY-1/Commodore design and the new XP2Y-1 Ranger was the addition of a 45-foot lower wing with pontoons, as opposed to the outrigger floats on the earlier design. This helped to both reduce drag and increase lift. The 425hp engines were also replaced with more powerful 575hp Wright engines, with new three-bladed propellers. The result was a flying boat with much better performance and endurance. A further refinement led to the P2Y-2, which moved the engines into the wing leading edge. That, plus a change to 750hp engines, further reduced drag and improved power.

For those not familiar with the Ginter series, these books try to provide as detailed a photo history of the subject as possible, drawing heavily on factory photos of prototype and production aircraft. This book is no exception, and in addition to the Consolidated designs, the book also provides good photo coverage of the earlier flying boat designs from other manufacturers. Quite simply, this is easily the most thorough collection of Consolidated P2Y photos in print, and anyone wanting to know what is found in every corner of this plane will be quite happy.

For those that are interested in the colors and markings of the plane, the book has that covered as well, with the last 30 or so pages documenting each squadron that flew the Ranger, with photos showing how they were marked. This plane flew in the classic US Navy period that featured yellow wings everywhere, so these planes were quite colorful. Of course, this was also a period where color photography was not common, so all of the photos are black and white inside the book. The back cover, though, has three color photos that highlight the colorful nature of the P2Y.

This is a great addition to the Naval Fighter Series (even though it's not really a fighter aircraft), and it fills a hole in the story of US Navy flying boats. With a retail price of $32.95, it's a bargain considering the incredible depth of information presented. My thanks to Ginter Books for the review copy.

Consolidated P2Y Flying Boat - History

In 1928 The Consolidated Aircraft Company received a contract from the United States Government to produce a single XPY-1 patrol flying boat for the United States Navy. The XPY-1 would become the Navy's first large monoplane flying boat. Although the Martin Company won the contract for the production version for the Navy, Consolidated was undeterred and they submitted a modified design, the XP2Y-1 to the Navy. The success of this design resulted in a contract for 23 production aircraft. The design was further improved and as the P2Y-2 a further 23 production aircraft were ordered.

Following rigorous testing, the Consolidated design team was awarded a production contract of the Model 28, now re designated XPBY-1 (PBY means Patrol Bomber, Y is the manufacturer's code for Consolidated Aircraft Company).

In 1932, Consolidated submitted its new Model 28 design in response to a design competition announced by the US Navy for a new flying boat. Consolidated, along with Douglas was awarded a contract for production of a single aircraft on 28th October 1933. Consolidated's new aircraft, now designated XP3Y-1, was a streamlined airplane with very clean lines and retractable wing tip floats and propelled by the new Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasp R-1830-58 engines developing 825 HP each. The XP3Y-1 flew for the first time 21st of March 1935.

Royal New Zealand Air Force Catalinas

The Royal New Zealand Air Force had 56 Catalina's in all between 1943 and 1953. They were registered NZ4001-4056 inclusive and included 22 PBY-5s (mostly MklVAs) with the remainder being PB2B-1's. All were flying boats, with no amphibian models being taken on charge. The aircraft were operated initially by No 6 Squadron (the squadron code used was XX-) from Lauthala Bay, Fiji, before moving to Havalo Bay, on Florida Island near Guadalcanal. No 3 Operational Training Unit was at Lauthala Bay and used the squadron code GF-).

PBY Catalinas in service with the Royal New Zealand Air Force 1943-1954

They were given the serial numbers NZ4001-4056 and included 22 Consolidated PBY-5s (mostly RAF Catalina MklVAs) with the remainder being Boeing Canada licence built PB2B-1 s. All were flying boats, with no amphibian models being taken on charge by the RNZAF.

The initial Catalinas were acquired to replace 3 antiquated and somewhat worn out Short Singapore III biplane flying boats that were struggling to provide aerial reconnaissance needs for the Fijian Islands which at the time appeared to be under imminent threat of Japanese invasion. The first 9 Catalinas were allocated from an RAF order, the remaining 47 were supplied from the US Navy under terms of lend-lease.

The initial PBY aircraft were operated by No. 6 Squadron (using the squadron code XX-) from Lauthala Bay in Fiji, with detachments operating from Tongatapu in Tonga. In October 1943, the Squadron moved to Havalo Bay, on Florida Island near Guadalcanal. No 3 Operational Training Unit was also established at Lauthala Bay (squadron code GF-).

Watch the video: United States Navy Consolidated P2Y-1 flying boat takes off from San Francisco an..HD Stock Footage


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