Consolidated PBY Catalina Unit: Lake Superior 101 Squadron Location: Duluth, Minnesota Progress: 45% Expected Completion: 2020
The unit members of the CAF Lake Superior Squadron 101 are continuing the restoration of their Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina, becoming a rallying point in their community, with several other aviation organizations stepping up to help push this project across the finish line.
The PBY Catalina played an incredibly important role in World War II, particularly in the Pacific where they were responsible for tracking the Japanese fleet and hunting enemy supply ships at night.
In 1998, four years after the CAF acquired the PBY, a violent storm flipped the aircraft onto its back, catastrophically damaging the wing. The Lake Superior Wing took up the task of replacing the wing, and in 2009 a wing from another PBY was successfully mated to the aircraft's hull, and restoration work has continued ever since.
Last year's 12 Planes campaigned helped the wing to purchase sheet metal for patching key areas of the aircraft's skin where corrosion was setting in. Paint was also purchased for the PBY's upper and lower surfaces to prevent any additional corrosion issues.
AAR Corp, a large aircraft repair facility, has commited to refurbishing the aircraft's tail. the Lake Superior College's School for Aviation will be using the aircraft to teach students how to inspect for corrosion, and will be working on the fire walls of the PBY. The squadron itself continues to work on the wing restoration, asking for a goal of $7,500 to help purchase fabric covering and additional soda to blast parts of the wing structure. This goal will also help the wing in procuring a crucial bolt that needs replaced. the bolt holds the wing on, and needs to be a certain diameter to safely hold the wing in flight.
Once restored, the PBY will tell the story of the brave men who used these aircraft in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters as patrol aircraft, rescue platforms, and torpedo and night bombers.