Archaehistoria

The Maramasike Catalina Flying Boat

Figure 1
Towards the evening of D-Day (August 7, 1942), the long ranging Catalinas were returning to their mother ship USS Mackinac (AVP-13) anchored in the Northern entrance of Maramasike Passage at the Southern end of Malaita Island. The Cats had been out during the day patrolling the Northern approaches to the Solomons to warn the Allied amphibious fleet in Iron Bottom Sound of approaching enemy forces. By nightfall there would be nine PBY-5 Catalina flying boats of U.S. Navy’s Patrol Squadron 23 (VP-23) resting on the calm waters of the passage. Catalina plane No. 2 of the Squadron was landing at dusk when the Patrol Plane Commander, Lt. James J. Murphy, accidentally hit a reef, damaging the flying boat beyond repair. The plane, BuNo. 04429, still rests there today and is the best archaeological evidence of one of the briefest American seaplane bases in the South Pacific. The depiction above is how plane 23-P-2 is likely to have looked like. [Aircraft profile by Jim Laurier. As published p. 59  of ‘US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Pacific War’ by Louis B. Dorny, Osprey Publishing , 2007].

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