Consolidated PBY Catalina Units of the US Navy: Second World War

The designations of US Navy squadrons were changed repeatedly before, during and after the Second World War. Here the first designation is the one used in the US Navy’s own Dictionary of Naval Aviation, and represents the squadron’s current designation, or the designation held when the squadron was disestablished. As a result of the navy system the 41 squadrons lists here used a total of 95 different designations, of which ten were used twice and two three times by Catalina squadrons alone!

The designations used during the period of American involvement in Second World War are indicated with (w).

The frequent changes of designation stopped after the United States entered the war. The only major change came on 1 October 1944, when all VP patrol squadrons and high numbered VB bomber squadrons became VPB patrol bomber squadrons, retaining the same number. The only exception was VP-101, which became VPB-29 while VB-101 became VPB-101.

VP-3 (second): VP-16/ VP-41 (w)
Operated PBY: June 1938-June 1943
After PBY: Converted to Lockheed PV-1
Location: Alaska and the Aleutian Islands

VP-5 (second): VP-17F/ VP-17/ VP-42 (w)
Operated PBY: March 1938-February 1943
After PBY: Converted to PV-1
Location: Alaska and the Aleutian Islands

VP-20 (third): VP-8, VP-24, VP-12 (w)
Operated PBY: 1937-August 1944
After PBY: Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer
Location: West Pacific, includes Black Cat and Dumbo duties

VP-21 (third): VP-7, VP-11, VP-21 (w)
Operated PBY: 1937-April 1942
After PBY: disestablished 18 April 1944
Location: Wake, Midway, Australia

VP-22 (first): VP-4, VP-22 (w)
Operated PBY: March 1938-1942
After PBY: disestablished 18 April 1942
Location: Dutch East Indies, Australia

VP-27 (second): VP-83 (w)
Operated PBY: January 1942-May 1943
After PBY: Converted to Consolidated PB4Y-1 Liberator
Location: Natal, Brazil, operating over South Atlantic

VP-29 (first): VP-52, VP-72 (w)
Operated PBY: December 1940-September 1944
After PBY: Converted to PB4Y-2
Location: East Coast December 1941, soon moved to Hawaii, then spent most of war in the South Pacific, before moving to the Aleutians in August 1945

VP-32 (third): VP-62 (w), VPB-62 (w)
Operated PBY: September 1943-January 1946
After PBY: disestablished June 1949 when flying PBN-1 Nomad
Location: Aleutians Islands

VP-33 (third): VP-12F, VP-12, VP-51, VP-71 (w), VPB-71 (w), VP-71
Operated PBY: December 1936-August 1948
After PBY: Converted to PBM-5A in August 1948
Location: South Pacific for most of war, including period of Black Cat operations

VP-34 (second): VP-53, VP-73 (w), VPB-73 (w), VP-73
Operated PBY: December 1939-1948
After PBY: Converted to PBM-5A in September 1948
Location: North Atlantic from Argentia and Iceland June 1941-October 1942, then Mediterranean for the rest of the war.

VP-46: VP-5, VP-33, VP-32 (w)
Operated PBY: 1938-December 1942
After PBY: Converted to PBM-3C
Location: Caribbean, Panama Canal

VP-62 (first): VP-62 (w)
Operated PBY: May 1942-July 1943
After PBY: disestablished July 1943
Location: Aleutian Islands

VP-62 (third): VD-2 (w) (Photographic Squadron)
Operated PBY: 1943, one of many types used.

VP-102 (first): VP-18, VP-13, VP-26, VP-102 (w)
Operated PBY: 1938-April 1942
After PBY: disestablished
Location: Pearl Harbor, Philippines, Dutch East Indies

VPB-6 (CG): VP-6 (w), VPB-6 (w)
Operated PBY: October 1943-July 1945
After PBY: Transferred to Coast Guard
Location: North Atlantic, based in Greenland and Iceland

VPB-11: VP-6, VP-23, VP-11 (w), VPB-11 (w)
Operated PBY: 1937-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished
Location: Pearl Harbor then South Pacific, including period of Black Cat operations

VPB-23: VP-10, VP-25, VP-23 (w), VPB-23 (w)
Operated PBY: January 1938-January 1946
After PBY: disestablished January 1946
Location: Pearl Harbor, then varied service in south and west Pacific.

VPB-24: VP-9, VP-12, VP-24 (w), VPB-24 (w)
Operated PBY: August 1937-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished June 1945
Location: West and South Pacific, including period of Black Cat operations.

VPB-29: VP-1, VP-21, VP-101 (w), VPB-29 (w)
Operated PBY: October 1938-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished June 1945
Location: Philippines from July 1939, the Dutch East Indies, Australia and South Pacific.

VPB-33: VP-33 (w), VPB-33 (w)
Operated PBY: April 1942-April 1945
After PBY: disestablished April 1945
Location: South Pacific, with some Black Cat duties

VPB-34: VP-34 (w), VPB-34 (w)
Operated PBY: June 1942-April 1945
After PBY: disestablished April 1945
Location: Caribbean, West Pacific then South Pacific

Catalina of VP-43 over the Aleutians
Catalina of VP-43 over the Aleutians

VPB-43: VP-43 (w), VPB-43 (w)
Operated PBY: July 1941-September 1945
After PBY: disestablished September 1945
Location: Aleutian Islands

VPB-44: VP-44 (w), VPB-44 (w)
Operated PBY: June 1941-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished June 1945
Location: West and South Pacific

VPB-45: VP-45 (w), VPB-45 (w)
Operated PBY: March 1943-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished June 1945
Location: Aleutian Islands 1943, South Atlantic from 1944

VPB-52: VP-3F, VP-3, VP-32, VP-52 (w), VPB-52 (w)
Operated PBY: August 1937-April 1945
After PBY: disestablished April 1945
Location: Caribbean 1941, Atlantic 1941-43, South Pacific to end of war.

VPB-54: VP-54 (w), VPB-54 (w)
Operated PBY: November 1942-April 1945
After PBY: disestablished April 1945
Location: South Pacific

VPB-61: VP-61 (w), VPB-61 (w)
Operated PBY: May 1942-September 1945
After PBY: disestablished September 1945
Location: Aleutian Islands

VPB-63: VP-63 (w), VPB-63 (w)
Operated PBY: September 1942-July 1945
After PBY: disestablished July 1945
Location: North Atlantic 1943, Mediterranean 1943-45, North Atlantic from June 1945

VPB-84: VP-84 (w), VPB-84 (w)
Operated PBY: December 1941-June 1945
After PBY: disestablished June 1945
Location: North Atlantic 1942-44, Caribbean 1944, East Coast 1945

VPB-91: VP-91 (w), VPB-91 (w)
Operated PBY: December 1942-October 1944
After PBY: converted to PBM-3S in October 1944
Location: Mix of South and East Pacific

VPB-92: VP-92 (w), VPB-92 (w)
Operated PBY: December 1941-May 1945
After PBY: disestablished 28 May 1945
Location: Caribbean 1942, Mediterranean 1943-44, South Atlantic 1944

VPB-94: VP-94 (w), VPB-94 (w)
Operated PBY: March 1942-December 1944
After PBY: disestablished December 1944   
Location: South Atlantic

VPB-100 (w)
Operated PBY: April-July 1944
After PBY: used alongside other aircraft to October 1945
Location: Hawaii as training unit

VPB-105: VP-2, VP-31 (w)
Operated PBY: 1939-April 1943
After PBY: converted to PB4Y-1 in April 1943
Location: Caribbean 1940-1943, North Atlantic (including time in Britain), 1943-45

VPB-121: VP-43, VP-81 (w)
Operated PBY: May 1941-September 1944
After PBY: converted to PB4Y-1 in September 1944
Location: Pacific area, including Guadalcanal, Tinian and Iwo Jima

VPB-125: VP-61, VP-82 (w)
Operated PBY: March 1941-September 1942
After PBY: converted to PV-1 in September 1942
Location: Atlantic and Caribbean

VPB-126: VP-93 (w)
Operated PBY: January-September 1942
After PBY: converted to PBO 1 in September 1942
Location: North Atlantic

VPB-197: VP-21, VP-45, VP-14 , VP-26, VP-14 (w)
Operated PBY: June 1939-October 1944
After PBY: converted to PB4Y-1 in October 1944
Location: Pearl Harbor then combat in the South Pacific

VPB-206: VP-206 (w)
Operated PBY: July 1944 temporarily, normally used PBM-3.

VP-AM-1: VP-53 (w), VPB-53 (w), VP-53, VP-AM-1
Operated PBY: May 1942-May 1948
After PBY: disestablished May 1948
Location: Trinidad and Caribbean from October 1942-July 1943 then to the Pacific, mostly in the South Pacific.

Wartime Squadron Numbers

Designation on 1 December 1941

Wartime Changes

VD-2

-

VP-6

VPB-6

VP-11

VPB-11

VP-12

-

VP-14

-

VP-21

-

VP-22

-

VP-23

VPB-23

VP-24

VPB-24

VP-31

VP-105

VP-32

-

VP-33

VPB-33

VP-34

VPB-34

VP-41

-

VP-42

-

VP-43

VPB-43

VP-44

VPB-44

VP-45

VPB-45

VP-52

VPB-52

VP-53

VPB-53

VP-54

VPB-54

VP-61

VPB-61

VP-62 (second)

VPB-62

VP-62 (first)

-

VP-63

VPB-63

VP-71

VPB-71

VP-72

-

VP-73

VPB-73

VP-81

-

VP-82

-

VP-83

-

VP-84

VPB-84

VP-91

VPB-91

VP-92

VPB-92

VP-93

-

VP-94

VPB-94

VP-101

VPB-29

VP-102

 

VP-206

-

VPB-100

-

US Navy PBY Catalina Units of the Pacific War, Louis B Dorny Osprey Combat Aircraft 62. This entry in the Combat Aircraft series looks at the varied uses of the Catalina in the Pacific theatre, where it served as successfully as a long range reconnaissance aircraft, a night bomber (the "Black Cat") and on air-sea rescue, or Dumbo duties. The text is well supported with first hand accounts, contemporary photographs and full colour illustrations. [see more]
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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (31 August 2008), Consolidated PBY Catalina Units of the US Navy: Second World War, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_PBY_catalina_US_navy_squadrons.html

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