Monografie Lotnicze #84 and #85: Consolidated PBY Catalina
Volumes One and Two
by Krzysztof Janowicz & Lechoslaw Musialkowski
Published by AJ-Press
reviewed by Steve Jantscher
The PBY needs no introduction. From it's critical role in the hunt for and destruction of the battleship Bismark, to the Pacific patrols, search and rescue and anti-submarine duties, the PBY was the ubiquitous Allied seaplane of WWII. Given the fact that the PBY needs no introduction is good, as the strength of these two books doesn't lie in their words, because while they are no doubt good words, they are still in the untranslated native language of their Czech authors. However, if as the ancient Japanese were credited with saying, "a picture is worth a thousand words", these Czech books are worth a million plus words in any language. The real strength of these volumes are the many, many photographs held within. And it should be added, that all the photographs are dual language captioned. So while the body of the text is Czech, the photo and profile captions are provided in English too.
Volume one is 80 pages long, with 144 quality black & white and nine color photographs and 24 color profile illustrations, many with additional plan form profiles too. Also included tucked in under the back cover are two double sided detail drawing plans of various versions of the PBY in 1/72nd scale. Each of these sheets is approximately 2x2.5 feet in size. Judging from the photographic content (since I'm a bit rusty with my Czech), the first volume has photographs of flying boats that preceded the PBY, along with photographs of all versions of the aircraft, even including foreign operated aircraft. All the profiles in Vol. 1 are of either US Navy or Coast Guard aircraft.
Volume two is slightly larger at 110 pages long and has a proportionally greater number of photographs at approximately 232 black and white and 5 color photographs, and 45 (all non-US Navy) full color profiles. The nature of the contents differs somewhat from the first volume in that there are only wartime and later photographs in this book. There are no early PBY versions in pre-war colors (as there were in Vol. 1). And if anything there are about two or three times the number of detail photographs of the PBY in this volume. If you're into detailing a PBY model, and can only buy one book, this is the one to get. As I noted, there are no US Navy color profiles in Vol. 2. I found the photographs in the second book to be more interesting. Most of the non-detail photographs center on US Navy operations, with a healthy second going to the British use of the PBY. Many interesting "other" users are included too. The plan set in this volume is also composed of two oversized sheets of plans. One is slightly smaller at 2x1.5 feet, and has detailed internal arrangement drawings at 1/48th scale on one side, and many b&w photos on the other side. The second sheet is the same size as those found in volume one, and are detailed plans of a PBY 5A in 1/48th scale. Included also are many scrap detail drawings.
I'm a little taken aback at the layout and arrangement of these two volumes. From the layout of the chapter headings, and the photographs, I can't divine the authors' intentions as to how or why they broke their data into two volumes the way that they did. My best guess is that they really wanted to sell both volumes equally, and didn't want to put all the "good stuff" in only one volume, and thus adversely impact the sales of the other. Putting it all together would make the single volume too costly and thick for softcover? Each offers a lot to the historian in all of us. Pre-war and USN profiles are in the first volume. Combat and foreign users are the strength of the second volume, as well as the vastly greater number of detail photographs. If you're only a modeler, volume 2 is the way to go. If you're "into" history, and the full life of the PBY, then volume 1 and 2 are absolute additions to your library.
an example of the profile art, from vol. one
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