Aircraft Type Photo
BELOW: A U.S. PBY Catalina making a landing at sea.
Photo: [no date] taken by a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy. A U.S. federal government photo now in the public domain.
Aircraft Type and Background
RAF Consolidated PBY* Catalina / Z2148
* Designated 'Marks I, II, III, IV', etc. by the RAF rather than 'PBY-5A' etc.
Type Nickname: "Cat"; "Mad Cat"; "Black Cat", and others.
Aircraft Acronym: P: Patrol; B: Bomber; Y: Consolidated manufacturer's ID.
First flown in the United States in March 1935, the PBY was intended as a long-range patrol aircraft. Originally equipped with two 850hp Pratt and Whitney engines, these were replaced in later versions with 1200hp Twin Wasp 14-cylinder radial engines. The aircraft had a maximum speed of 179mph.
The PBY was not intended as a passenger aircraft. The purpose was
flights and long range patrols. The
aircraft had the ability to take water landings.
BELOW: A Canso flying boat.
Photo: © Canada's Air Force
The RAF first began using these flying boats in 1941, renaming the Consolidated PBY as the 'Catalina' - a name first used by Consolidated themselves for their commercial versions, and adopted later by the US Navy. According to the RAF, Coastal Command had 602 Catalinas (or 'Cats') at their disposal. (Higher number are cited elsewhere.) A number of Catalinas remain in civilian use today. (See The Catalina Society for a full list.)
BELOW: A U.S. Consolidated PBY-5A Catalina at anchor, preparing for take-off.
Photo : [no date] US Federal Government photo released to the public domain.
BELOW: A U.S. PBY gunner, with machine gun, mounting one of the two side gun blisters on the hull.
Photo : [no date] U.S. Federal Government photo released to the public domain.
Aircraft Accident Details
On the 18th January 1942, Consolidated Catalina Z2148 took off from its operating station at RAF Castle Archdale in Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland. The crew had been briefed to carry out a sortie over the coast of Norway in order to locate the Kriegsmarine battleship "Tirpitz", and to bomb the ship.
During their passage over the North Sea, however, the Catalina's wings began to ice up, making it more difficult to manoeuvre the aircraft and to maintain height. Then, one of the two engines lost power, at which point the aircraft began to lose height. Realising their danger, the crew decided to jettison their bombs into the sea. They then headed for Sullom Voe in the Shetlands, where they hoped to land. However, when they arrived in the early hours of the 19th January, no preparations had been made and no landing flares could be seen. They tried to radio flying control at Sullom Voe but received no reply. Eventually, their call was heard by RAF Sumburgh at the south end of Shetland. Sumburgh then alerted Sullom Voe to the plight of the Catalina flying boat.
Meanwhile, the Catalina had been circling over the area waiting for a flare path to be laid. However, when circling over land in the snow and pitch darkness, the pilot lost height and crashed soon after at Wila Mina Hoga on the slopes of Arisdale.
Aircraft Crew Casualties
Of the nine personnel on board, six were killed and the remaining three were injured. Those who died were:
(Please click on the hyperlinked names above for further details at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's website.)
The crew members who survived (with injuries) were:
Sgt A. Helme, Co-Pilot, RAFVR.
Flt Sgt D S Lockyer, R/Engr., RAFVR.
Sgt R Richmond, Mech., RAFVR.
BELOW: The Catalina Memorial
Photo: © 2014 Richard Hobby
The text on the above Memorial Plaque reads as follows:
THE CATALINA MEMORIAL
In the early hours of 19th January 1942 an RAF Catalina of 240 Squadron, Serial No. Z2148, crashed in Arisdale. Three of the crew survived and seven were killed. Parts of the aircraft, including both engines, can be seen below a commemorative cross. This was erected and dedicated as a permanent memorial in 1991.
The suggested route to the Memorial follows in the opposite direction to that taken by the survivor who raised the alarm. The route is indicated by marked poles for the 2 mile (3 kilometer) distance over broken heathery terrain.
At the South Yell Parish Church of St Magnus, Hamnavoe, are the graves of those who lost their lives. Within the church hangs a tapestry woven by the widow of the pilot.
Outside the Old Haa Museum, Burravoe, a plaque mounted below part of a propeller from the Catalina lists members of the crew. A video film and other information about the Catalina and its crew can also be seen at the Old Haa.
Please do not remove any parts of the aircraft, as they form part of the memorial to those who lost their lives.
Observe the country code.
Be equipped and attired for walking in rough country.
This information board was prepared by Shetland Amenity Trust with support from the E. C. LEADER 1 programme.
Photo: © 2014 Richard Hobby
BELOW: Propeller blade Memorial Plaque.
Photo: © 2014 Richard Hobby
Crash Site Photos
BELOW: Debris from the crashed RAF Catalina on hillside at Wila Mina Hoga. The aircraft crashed on 19 January 1942 and there were three survivors.
Photo: © Copyright David White
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Air Crash Sites-Scotland
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Crash Date / Site
Accident Date: 19 Jan 1942
Region: Shetland Isles
Nearest towns or villages:Burravoe (SE) or Ulsta (SW).
Nearest large town:
None on Yell. Nearest by ferry on Shetland Mainland: Lerwick.
OS Grid Ref. N/A
GPS Ref: N/A
Present Condition: Wing section and other parts still remain at the crash site.
Registration or Serial: Z2148
Operator: RAF (240 Squadron / Coastal Command.)
Operating Station: RAF Castle Archdale (slipway / moorings on Lower Lough Erne.)
Lough Erne, Co. Fermanagh, N. Ireland.
Current Station Status: Closed in 1945.
Accident Specific Link
Catalina Z2148 Arisale, Yell, at Aviation Research Group Orkney and Shetland (A.R.G.O.S.) (Includes detailed information and crew photos.)
Forums, Organisations, and Societies
Hills of Arisdale at Scottish Hills Forum. (Route to crash site and memorial using waymarker posts.)
PBY Catalina International Association (Newsletter providing a detailed description of events)
The Catalina Society (UK) (A full list of surviving Catalinas)
RAF and Related Links
Arisdale Crash Memorial at Wikipedia
Hill Walking Links
(Hillwalking and Mountaineering)
Hillwalking (The Scottish Mountaineering Club)
Hillwalking.org.uk (Equipment, etc.)
Mountain Guides (Routes, maps, advice and guidance compiled by Steven Fallon)
OutdoorScotland.co.uk (Directory of Clubs, Associations, and Mountain Rescue Teams)
WalkingScotland (The official Walking site of Scotland's national tourism organisation)
Emergency Services Link
If you cannot make voice calls, you can now contact the 999 emergency services by SMS text from your mobile phone.
PBY Catalina Z2148
Arisdale, Yell, Shetland Isles