Flying Cats: the Catalina in World War II, Andrew Hendrie, 1988, ISBN 0-87021-213-3, 240 pp.
Read Flying Cats: the Catalina Aircraft in Worlds War II to learn of fantastic exploits raiding, U-boat hunting, covert insertions and rescue missions. These tellings are true and incredible, to say the least. Also read Hendrie’s fine book to learn of the solitary nature of the missions which often lasted well over 12 hours. In Flying Cats the reader also gleans finer points on handling the Catalina afloat as well as in the air.
Hendrie writes of flying the Catalina is the wartime services of all the Allied powers which employed them. The Catalina has been most popularized for flying in the tropical Pacific areas but Hendrie rightly exposes readers to the entire climate spectrum experience by the Catalina and PBY crews. His writing aids the reader to experience the bitter cold of the North Sea’s winters as well as the treacherousness of simply surviving the vapid weather of the Aleutians.
Hendrie described many desperate combats between a Catalina and a surface U-boat using its anti-aircraft automatic cannon. Though not explained in the book the Kriegsmarine staff ordered U-boats to stand and fight after a certain period in the war instead of crash diving—odds of survival were better by upsetting the aim of the aircraft’s crew. Descriptions of pilots determining the aim as well as the time interval from one depth charge dropping to the next is riveting—all while under intense fire–and not as clearly explained as in other titles.
No less than 62 Axis submarines are detailed in an appendix as damaged or destroyed by Catalinas with their crews. Other appendices list individual Catalina acquisitions by air force or air arm which purchased them. Hendrie wonderfully, and more than effectively, describes the global importance as well as usage of the PBY Catalina. Whether U-boat patrols, insertions or rescues this book completely tells the tales of the Catalina in World War II, no matter where flown.