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PBY Catalinas at Pearl Harbor


When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, their main targets were battleships and aircraft carriers. However, they were worried about the big PBY Catalina flying boats, which had the range to find the Japanese fleet and track it for hundreds of miles.

The PBY’s role in the attack began at 7 am, when a patrolling Catalina found a Japanese minisubmarine just off the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Along with the destroyer Ward, the PBY dropped its depth bombs on the submarine. The PBY sent a coded message to its base at 7:15, but by the time this message was decoded and passed on to CINCPAC, the Japanese bombs had begun falling.

In fact, the Japanese attack began when a Val dive bomber dropped a 550 pound bomb on Ramp 4 at the south end of Ford Island. This bomb hit among Patrol Squadron 22’s twelve aircraft. In the blast and subsequent fire, seven VP-22 PBYs were destroyed and the remaining five were placed out of commission for several days. Other patrol squadrons did little...

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