The Cutaway PBY Display
A project to restore a 1942 Consolidated Aircraft Corporation PBY-5B Patrol Bomber Seaplane
for Display in the National Museum of Naval Aviation.


The History of FP-216


On the 28th of May, 1944, a PBY-5B, Number FP-216, was involved in a water-looping accident in East Bay, Pensacola, Florida that resulted in strike damage to the airplane. The historian for the PBY Catalina International Association (PBY CIA), I. James Morrison, was stationed at Pensacola at the time. According to his recollections, the aircraft was parked on the seaplane ramp used by Training Squadron VN8D-8A for some time after the accident. waiting to be stricken, until an enterprising Safety Training Officer convinced his superiors that, rather than scrapping the airplane, it could be turned into a training exhibit. Accordingly, he made arrangements to have the entire hull built into the back wall of what was then Survival Training Unit Building at the Naval Air Station. Half of the hull was inside the building and the other half was outside, with the outer wing panel was removed, leaving the stub wing and starboard engine in place. On the inside, the port wing wing was totally removed. The imaginative Training Officer then arranged for the Naval Air Station Assembly and Repair (A & R) Department to selectively remove the metal skin all along the half of the hull inside the building, exposing to view all the inside compartments and operator stations, including the "tower" which is the flight engineer's station inside the cabane strut between the wing and the hull.

There it remained, intriguing countless Naval Aviators in training, until the mid-90s when plans were made to demolish the Survival Training Building and convert its site to other uses. The future of FP-216 was uncertain.

The PBY CATALINA INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION, a non-profit organization whose mandate is to promote enjoyable camaraderie within the Catalina flying boat international community, became aware of this "once in a lifetime" specimen while holding its 1995 annual reunion in Pensacola and investigated what might be in store for it in the future. It was learned that FP-216 was the property of The National Museum of Naval Aviation and that there were no plans for it beyond its being saved when the building was demolished. In consultation with the Museum, the PBY CIA learned that there are avenues for groups, such as the PBY CIA, to provide the funding support to proceed with a restoration project because, otherwise, it might take several years before they would be able to undertake the operation. After a survey of the members revealed that the Association had the capability of effective fund raising, the PBY CIA was instrumental in organizing a non-profit corporation to solicit, raise and disburse funds to finance the Cutaway PBY Display within The National Museum of Naval Aviation at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola Florida.

Today, thanks to the donation of many, many dollars and many, many hours of volunteer effort, FP-216, nearly fully restored, has been moved to the museum floor and is now available for public viewing. As far as we know, this is the only display in any museum where visitors can view the interior of a large World War II patrol bomber seaplane by simply walking up and looking in. FP-216 is positioned almost directly under PBY-5, Buno 08317, which hangs in the museum's West Wing. This arrangement allows visitors to view both simultaneously: the cut-away hull of FP-216 at eye level, with all of its equipment and work stations in full view, and a nearly identical Catalina "soaring" directly overhead. One possible future enhancement might be a full crew of figures in proper vintage uniforms, manning their work stations, along with audio narration "re-living" various historical PBY engagements of World War II.

We still have a lot of work to do and a lot of parts to track down. Take a look at our list of deficiencies to see how you can help.


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FP-216 on Display


Exterior:    These photos provide a "walk-around" view of FP-216 as she sits today on the Museum floor. The sequence of shots are what you might see approaching from the starboard, rounding the bow and continuing down the port (cut-away) side.

Be sure to compare these photos to those taken earlier, particularly while FP-216 was part of the old Survival Training Building. The contrast bears clear testimony to the incredible acomplishment of those people who restored this historic treasure.

At present, the "walk-around" ends prematurely at the bunk compartment, just forward of the waist gun blisters. I'll add to the "walk-around" tour as photos arrive. I'm also working my way through the pop-ups, adding descriptions and information one picture at a time. These sunny spring days may slow that process, however...

   

Interior:    The following photos provide a "walk-through", starting in the waist gunners compartment with a glimpse of the starboard blister and its .50 caliber machine gun, and proceeding forward, through the bunk compartment, the galley and mechanic's compartment, the nav/radio compartment, the cockpit and ending in the bow compartment with a look at the once super-secret Norden Mk 15 bombsight mounted for flight.

As with the exterior "walk-around", the "walk-through" needs more shots to provide the whole picture. These will be added as they arrive.


Dedication Ceremonies
on 7 November, 2002



Pre-restoration
Images of FP-216


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FP-216 in the Survival
Training Building

FP-216 in Storage

FP-216 in Restoration


How to Participate

 
Give us a hand whittling down our Deficiency List

or

Contributions to the CUTAWAY PBY EXHIBIT are tax deductible
as provided in Section 170 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Contributions may be sent to
Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, Inc.
1750 Radford Boulevard, Suite C
Pensacola, FL 32508-5402
(800) 327-5002
Be sure to designate it specifically for the Cutaway PBY Project
All contributions will be acknowledged.
 


William Kanter, Treasurer
29 Rolling Hills Court
Cincinnati, OH 45215
 
   
Thomas Garrett, President
220 Woodlynne Avenue
Pitman, NJ 08071
 

The CUTAWAY PBY EXHIBIT, INC., is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt, non-profit, charitable, educational organization incorporated in the State of New Jersey. INFORMATION FILED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CONCERNING THIS CHARITABLE SOLICITATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY BY CALLING (973) 505-6215. REGISTRATION WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT. In Florida A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE WITHIN THE STATE, 1-800-HELP-FLA. REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE OF FLORIDA.


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