PB2Y Coronado
An early PB2Y-2 in flight.
Role Maritime patrol bomber
Manufacturer Consolidated Aircraft
First flight 17 December 1937
Introduction December 1940
Status Retired
Primary users United States Navy
Royal Air Force
Number built 217
Variants Consolidated XPB3Y

The PB2Y Coronado is a large flying boat patrol bomber designed by Consolidated Aircraft, and used by the US Navy during World War II in bombing, antisubmarine, medical/hospital plane, and transport roles. Obsolete by the end of the war, Coronados were quickly taken out of service. Only one known example remains, at the National Naval Aviation Museum at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. Before WW2 large flying boats were important for long distance international routes, as the ability to land on water without a land-based airstrip was useful. It proved to be good supporting aircraft in the Pacific War, which often required transport across long distance of oceans in harm's way, to places with no prepared airstrips.

There were two main configurations, one with several turrets including a prominent ball turret in the nose with two 50-cal machine guns, and one unarmed, with a clean nose.

The aircraft had a unique place in history, bringing Admiral Nimitz to Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese surrender for WW2. Also, after the war one was used by Hughes Aviation. Of the aircraft one survived the war to be exhibited in an aviation museum.

Design and development

The XPB2Y-1 prototype with a single tail in 1938

After deliveries of the PBY Catalina, also a Consolidated aircraft, began in 1935, the United States Navy began planning for the next generation of patrol bombers. Orders for two prototypes, the XPB2Y-1 and the Sikorsky XPBS-1, were placed in 1936; the prototype Coronado first flew in December 1937.[1]

After trials with the XPB2Y-1 prototype revealed some stability issues, the design was finalized as the PB2Y-2, with a large cantilever wing, twin tail with very marked dihedral, and four Pratt & Whitney R-1830 radial engines. The two inner engines were fitted with four-bladed reversible pitch propellers; the outer engines had standard three-bladed feathering props.[2] Like the PBY Catalina before it, the PB2Y's wingtip floats retracted to reduce drag and increase range, with the floats' buoyant hulls acting as the wingtips when retracted. The price of the PB2Y-2 was US$300,000, or approximately three times that of the PBY Catalina.[3]

Development continued throughout the war. The PB2Y-3, featuring self-sealing fuel tanks and additional armor, entered service just after the attack on Pearl Harbor and formed most of the early-war Coronado fleet. The prototype XPB2Y-4 was powered by four Wright R-2600 radials and offered improved performance, but the increases were not enough to justify a full fleet update. However, most PB2Y-3 models were converted to the PB2Y-5 standard, with the R-1830 engines replaced with single-stage R-1830-92 models. As most existing PB2Y-3s were used as transports, flying low to avoid combat, removing the excess weight of unneeded superchargers allowed an increased payload without harming low-altitude performance.[4]

A prototype of the Consolidated XPB3Y variant was ordered, which would be a long range version of the Coronado, but this was cancelled.

Operational history

British Coronados and Catalinas at RAF Darrell's Island, Bermuda.
PB2Y taking off in 1942;the Coronado was the largest aircraft in service with the USN at the time

Coronados served in combat in the Pacific with the United States Navy, in both bombing and antisubmarine roles. PB2Y-5 Coronados carried out four bombing raids on Wake Island between 30 January and 9 February 1944.[3] However, most served as transport and hospital aircraft, and additional tasks included executive transport and search and rescue.

The British Royal Air Force Coastal Command had hoped to use the Coronado as a maritime patrol bomber, as it already used the PBY Catalina. However, the range of the Coronado (1,070 miles) compared poorly with the Catalina (2,520 mi), and the Short Sunderland (1,780 mi). Consequently, the Coronados supplied to the RAF under Lend-Lease were outfitted purely as transports, serving with RAF Transport Command. The 10 aircraft were used for transatlantic flights, staging through the RAF base at Darrell's Island, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, though the aircraft were used to deliver vital cargo and equipment in a transportation network that stretched down both sides of the Atlantic, from Newfoundland, to Brazil, and to Nigeria, and other parts of Africa. After the war ended five of the RAF aircraft were scrapped, one was already lost in collision with a Martin PBM Mariner and the last four were scuttled off the coast of Bermuda in 1946.[5]

A PB2Y Coronado shoots down G4M "Betty" in 1944.

In combat missions PB2Y claimed five enemy aircraft shot down over the course of WW2.[6] Likewise, an example of one lost to combat is at Kerema Rhetto, Okinawa, May 5, 1945. An example of a search and rescue mission is that a PB2Y landed hard on water of Kagoshima Bay to rescue a downed pilot. Unable to takeoff again, a PBM Mariner picked up the crew and pilot, then scuttled the aircraft with a strafe. [7]

Coronados served as a major component in the Naval Air Transport Service (NATS) during World War II in the Pacific theater. Most had originally been acquired as combat patrol aircraft, but the limitations noted above quickly relegated them to transport service in the American naval air fleet also. By the end of World War II, the Coronado was outmoded as both a bomber and a transport, and virtually all of them were quickly scrapped by the summer of 1946, being melted down to aluminum ingots and sold as metal scrap,[8] or used as targets for fighter gunnery practice.[3]

After the war some were used for civilian service; one is reportedly bought by Howard Hughes to practice water landings for the 1947 flight of the Hughes Spruce Goose.[9]


PB2Y-2 in 1941
PB2Y-3R unloading at a dock, 1943
PB2Y in 1944 in the Pacific

The bulk of the production was the PB2Y-3, with 210 produced it featured turrets. Significant numbers of unarmed transport version were also produced or converted from existing versions.

Coronado I
RAF Designation for PB2Y-3
Prototype with four 1,050 hp (780 kW) Pratt & Whitney XR-1830-72 Twin Wasps, engines, one built.
Evaluation variant with four 1,020 hp (760 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-78 Twin Wasp engines, modified hull and six 0.5 in (13 mm) guns, six built.
One PB2Y-2 converted as prototype for PB2Y-3.
Production variant with four 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-88 Twin Wasp engines and eight 0.5 in (13 mm) guns, 210 built.
Lend-lease designation for Royal Air Force aircraft.
PB2Y-3s converted by Rohr Aircraft Corp as freighters with faired-over turrets, side loading hatch, and seating for 44 passengers, 31 built.
One PB2Y-2 re-engined with four 1,600 hp (1,200 kW) Wright R-2600 Cyclone 14 engines.
The XP2BY-3 converted as PB2Y-5 prototype.
PB2Y-3s converted with four 1,200 hp (890 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 Twin Wasp engines, increased fuel capacity and provision for RATOG (rocket assisted take-off gear).
PB2Y-5s converted as unarmed transports, some fitted for medical evacuation role. The medical evacuation version could hold up to 25 stretchers.[10]


Coronado GR.I at RAE Helensburgh in 1944
PB2Y-3 of VPB-1 at Galapagos naval air station in 1945
Nimitz arrives in Tokyo to conclude WW2

The main operator was the United States Navy, and some served with United Kingdom Royal Air Force. 5 served with United States Coast Guard. After the war there was some civilian use also.

 United Kingdom
 United States


This PB2Y-5R crashed 6 December 1944 at Kanton Island in Phoenix Islands (modern day Kiribati)

There were many accidents with the PB2Y incidents of different types.[7]

There is a sunken PB2Y Coronado in Tanapag Lagoon of Saipan. This wreck has been studied for marine archeology.[12]

After its capture Ebeye from the Japanese, it was used as seaplane for stopover for flying boats transiting the Pacific. At least two Coronados crashed near Naval Air Base Ebeye Island, at Kwajalein Atoll.[13]

Some of these wrecks were discovered in the early 21st century and in some cases visited by divers.[13]

Additional examples:

On 6 May 1942, a PB2Y crashed crashed and sank in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during an emergency landing, claiming the lives of two.[7]

On December 27, 1942 one crashed landing on the Salton Sea, killing 6.[7]

On May 21, 1943 one crashed with the loss of all crew at Little Creek, Virginia, USA.[7]

May 23, 1943 a PB2Y ran out of fuel near Bermuda, on landing the right right pontoon ripped off and the aircraft rolled over and sank.[7]

May 24, 1943 a PB2Y broke in two when it was forced to land on the ground at San Mieuel Rea, Mexico.[7]

On November 26, 1943 a PB2Y crashed landing during a training flight at NAS Alamedea, USA.[7]

January 1, 1944 nine perished in a crash in the Great Sound of Bermuda and another crash at Bermuda occurred on May 26, 1943.[7]

On February 17, 1944 a PB2Y engine failed during takeoff, causing it to crash into a barracks killing 2 on the ground, and 7 of 12 on the aircraft.[7]

Galapagos, Ecuador, July 17, 1944 landing accident (nosing over) kills five.[7]

July 31, 1944, on takeoff from Funafuti Lagoon a wing clips a ship's jackstaff causing a crash, killing 22.[7]

On October 17, 1944 one crashed into a Coronado Island near San Diego, California.[7]

On 6 December, 1945 a PB2Y-5R (no. 7241) crashed at Canton island.[7]

On 22 June 1945, a PB2Y landed at sea on a flight between Ebeye and Saipan. All were rescued but the aircraft later sunk.[7]

Surviving aircraft

The surviving transport Coronado in the USA. This one delivered Nimitz to Tokyo for the signing of the Japanese surrender (VJ day)

Specifications (PB2Y-5)

3-view line drawing of the Consolidated PB2Y-5R Coronado

Data from Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II [2]

General characteristics



In popular culture

Victor Bergeron created a PB2Y cocktail for his Tiki bars (Trader Vic's) in honor of World War II airmen.[15]

See also

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Related lists



  1. ^ Andrews 1989, pp. 22–23.
  2. ^ a b Bridgeman 1946, pp. 218–219.
  3. ^ a b c Burney 2015, pp. 82–87.
  4. ^ Pruitt, James Robert (April 2015). "PB2Y Coronado Flying Boat Archaeology and Site Formation Studies Tanapag Lagoon, Saipan" (PDF). CORE. pp. 62–70. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  5. ^ March 2000, p. 63.
  6. ^ Matt, P. E. (2022-11-20). "Consolidated PB2Y Coronado". Pacific Eagles. Retrieved 2023-11-25.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q "Forgotten Props - A Warbirds Resource Group Site". www.forgottenprops.warbirdsresourcegroup.org. Retrieved 2023-11-24.
  8. ^ Naval Aviation News & September 1946, p. 9.
  9. ^ "Consolidated Coronado seaplane flew in relative obscurity — General Aviation News". generalaviationnews.com. 2018-09-06. Retrieved 2023-11-23.
  10. ^ "PB2Y Coronado". public2.nhhcaws.local. Retrieved 2023-11-23.
  11. ^ Polmar, Norman (March 2013). "Historic Aircraft - The Big Flying Boat". Naval History Magazine. Vol. 27, no. 2.
  12. ^ Pruitt, James Robert (2015). "PB2Y Coronado Flying Boat Archaeology and Site Formation Studies, Tanapag Lagoon, Saipan". ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ a b c d e "The WW2 Pacific Treasures of Kwajalein Lagoon by Dan Farnham Part 15: The "Giants of the Skies", the PB2Y Coronado wrecks – WW2Wrecks.com". Retrieved 2023-11-23.
  14. ^ "PB2Y Coronado." National Naval Aviation Museum. Retrieved: 6 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Trader Vic's". Life. Vol. 17, no. 10. September 4, 1944.


Further reading