Hendrie's aim is to produce a detailed history of the Catalina's service. There is very little padding here - incident follows incident in a constant flow, with detailed narratives of a vast number of Catalina sorties and successes. Every operator of the Catalina is included and every theatre of the Second World War, from the head of South Africa to the freezing fog of the Aleutians.
Although the author didn't actually serve in Catalinas himself, he did fly two tours of duty, first in the Lockheed Hudson and later in the Wellington, with a spell as a test pilot in Sunderland flying boats in between. There are several occasions when the author crossed paths with people mentioned in the text, or was in the area during one of the encounters under discussion, and his understanding of this world is clear.
The overall structure of the book isn't immediately apparent, with no obvious reason for the order of chapters. Generally the Atlantic and European theatres are covered first, followed by the Pacific, but the Far East appears early and some of the chapters focus on particular countries, so all Canadian squadrons are detailed in the same chapter. Others focus on a particular area of operations, so the chapter on Iceland includes both British and American aircraft.
As a result of this structure the book does sometimes feel a little disjointed, but it is still a very valuable piece of work, providing a very handy reference for the service career of the Catalina, one of the most flexible aircraft of the Second World War.
1 - The Machine
2 - US Navy Catalinas over the Atlantic and Caribbean
3 - Brazil
4 - RAF Coastal Command Operations
5 - Iceland
6 - Norway
7 - Gibraltar
8 - Operations in the Far East
9 - South Africa
10 - The Atlantic Ferry
11 - No.321 (Dutch) Squadron
12 - Canadian Squadrons
13 - Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Advance
14 - Midway, Guadalcanal and the Bismarck Sea
15 - The Aleutians
16 - Shipping Strikes by the US Navy Catalinas
17 - Australia and the South Pacific
18 - RNZAF Rescue Operations
19 - AAFUS Emergency Rescue Operations
20 - Other Services
Author: Andrew Hendrie
Publisher: Pen & Sword Aviation
Year: 2012 edition of 1988 original