Home RC Airplane Reviews Dynam PBY Catalina Review
Dynam PBY Catalina Review Print E-mail
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Tuesday, 30 August 2011 00:01

History

The Consolidated PBY Catalina was an American flying boat of the 1930s and 1940s produced by Consolidated Aircraft. It was one of the most widely used multi-role aircraft of World War II. PBYs served with every branch of the United States Armed Forces and in the air forces and navies of many other nations. In the United States Army Air Forces and later in the United States Air Force their designation was OA-10. A Canadian-built PBY would be familiarly called a Canso.

Swedish Air force Consolidated PBY Catalina on display at the Swedish Air force museum in Linkoping, Sweden

During World War II, PBYs were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escorts, search and rescue missions (especially air-sea rescue), and cargo transport. The PBY was the most successful aircraft of its kind; no other flying boat was produced in greater numbers. The last active military PBYs were not retired from service until the 1980s. Even today, over 70 years after its first flight, the aircraft continues to fly as an air tanker in aerial firefighting operations all over the world.

The initialism of "P.B.Y." was determined in accordance with the U.S. Navy aircraft designation system of 1922; PB representing "Patrol Bomber" and Y being the code used for the aircraft's manufacturer, Consolidated Aircraft.

The Catalina supports a crew of 8 (pilot, co-pilot, bow turret gunner, flight mechanic, radioman, navigator and two waist gunners). It is powered by 2-Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp radial engines that produce 1,200hp each and give the plane a maximum speed of 196 mph.


Intro

When Dynam first released the Catalina I was excited to try it out but disappointed that it could only be flown from water. I debated in my head for several days where I could fly the plane and then it finally dawned on me. I didn’t need no stinkin’ water! I could easily hand-launch the bird! With my mind made up I got online to order the Catalina only to discover they were hopelessly out of stock. A month passed before the water plane was back in stock, but at first sight I ordered one to review.

   

Kit Contents

The box arrived safely and with no damage. When I opened the box I was greeted with another box full of more boxes. Dynam sure loves the boxes! When all the boxes were opened I discovered the plane had only a few major parts and was mostly assembled. The kit included the fuselage, 3-piece wing design, a bag of accessories, decals, manual, elevators, 2-1100kv motors backed by 2-30amp escs and 4 servos for steering the plane.

    

The Catalina was in great condition except for one motor that was dramatically pointing downward. Before preparing to do any assembly on the plane I pulled the cowl off to inspect the reason why the motor was sitting at such an extreme angle. With the cowl off it became abundantly clear that the motor was fine, but the cowl had been installed crooked deceiving me into thinking something was wrong with the motor mount. Silly Dynam!

   

Assembly

The assembly starts with joining the wings together with the fiberglass tube included in the kit. Each wing has two screws that hold the wings together. Be sure to pay attention to the manual and install the longer (25mm) screw in the leading edge of the wing and the shorter (20 mm) screw near the trailing edge. Make sure each screw actually bites into the joining wing or otherwise the wing(s) might fall off in flight. After the wings are together, the floats and struts are easy to install by screwing them in with the included hardware.

   

With the wings assembled, thread the motor and receiver wires through the top of the fuselage and secure the top of the wing to the fuselage.

The elevators simply push together over a small fiberglass tube and are secure to the tail of the plane with foam safe CA.  The ailerons already came hooked up to the servos and control horns so only the rudder and elevator needed to be attached. Dynam makes it easy by using their “quick-controller” instead of clevises. Adjusting the trim or elevators is very simple with the quick-controller.

   

After all of the surfaces were attached and flush I spun each 3-bladed prop onto the motor and hooked everything up to the receiver. The last step was slapping on a few decals and the Dynam PBY Catalina was finished!

Features

The Dynam Catalina features a smooth gray paint scheme that looks scale on the ground, in the water or up high in the sky. The bottom of the plane is made of hard plastic keeping water off of the foam during lake landings. The dual props are strong and produce plenty of thrust behind the dual 1100kv motors. The battery bay is quite large and with a little slicing of foam can accommodate many different types of 3S batteries.

   

First Flight

It was a hot and windy day when I brought Catalina out. I had several planes to maiden, but I opted not to fly other ones as I figured it would be too dicey. But, with the high wing design of the Dynam Catalina I didn’t have much fear that it could handle the wind.

After a few pre-flight checks I decided to try skidding off of the grass. Crazy Thumbs lined the plane up into the wind and with a small push to get I started, I throttled up and the plane slide across 6 feet of grass before effortlessly lifting off into the air. It was a thing of beauty. The wide wings and the strong wind provided a wonderful amount of lift to the plane.

   

Once I was at altitude I was able to back the throttle off to about half power and just cruise around the sky. The Catalina needed about 5 clicks of up trim to stay level. The ailerons and rudder provide a good amount of authority and control over the craft. The plane can actually roll fairly well and rudder turns are flat like a buttermilk pancake.

The PBY Catalina flew well on a 3S 2200 battery for 6 minutes and after landing there was still enough juice in the battery for another minute of flight time.

Flight Characteristics

The Dynam PBY Catalina flew just about how I thought it would with only a few surprises. The plane is floaty, forgiving and slow. The surprising part is how much control the pilot has and the fact that the PBY is more agile than I thought it would be. The Catalina is able to roll and loop with relative ease. The large wing catches gobs of air and helps the plane stay up high without too much power. Stalls are nearly nonexistent as the airplane only twirls towards the ground in an open, flat spiral. The dual motors provide more than enough oomph to pull un-scale maneuvers and passes. Perhaps the best test of the day was how well the Catalina faired in the wind. The wings bowed a few times with the bumpy conditions but I never felt like the plane was in danger of breaking or that I was in danger of losing control. It was a docile beast with the wind, very nice!

Takeoffs and Landings

Takeoffs are doable even if you don’t own a lake. The Catalina takes off from either a small hand launch or sliding across the ground and since the props are up high, one never has to worry about a prop strike. Full throttle into the wind and the Catalina will be off the ground in less than 10 feet.

   

Although my landing was a bit rough in the video, the Catalina is a smooth landing beast. The plane slows down like a snail in glue and it will float down to the ground with a decreasing throttle stick.  The plastic bottom protects the fuselage from the elements of water, grass or any surface you decide to land on.

Is This Plane For a Beginner?

This could be flown by a beginner. It has a large, wide wing that gives the plane slow flying abilities and forgiving characteristics. Get a friend to help with the hand launch the first few times so you can concentrate on the task at hand…aka…flying.

Conclusion

The Dynam PBY Catalina is a one of a kind aircraft that captures the look and feel of the real Catalina. The plane has excellent flight characteristics and is fairly easy to fly. The large wingspan and thick wings provide excellent lift and give the airplane a ‘floaty’ feel in the air. The Catalina is easy to take off and easy to land whether you fly on water, land or snow. For the price, the Dynam Catalina is loaded with features and is a one of a kind airplane. A great buy!

GRADE: B+

Pros

  • Good power
  • Gentle flight characteristics
  • Easy to assemble
  • Good value for the money

Neutrals

  • Pilots cheapen the look of the plane

Cons

  • Lights do not come wired (just two bare wires hanging)

 

Media and FLIGHT Time!

     

   

   

   

   

   


 
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