Photo: Robert Deering 1986
National Museum of Naval Aviation
In designing the PB2Y Coronado, engineers at Consolidated Aircraft Corporation incorporated the retractable wingtip floats designed for use on the company's PBY Catalina flying boat. In all other respects, the new flying boat was a completely new design, featuring four engines, a twin tail, and towering hull. First flown on 17 December 1937, PB2Ys joined the fleet on the last day of 1940. Coronados were delivered to Great Britain under the terms of Lend-Lease and their limited use by the U.S. Navy during World War II primarily involved service as transports.
Delivered to the fleet on 12 April 1943, the aircraft pictured above (BuNo 7099) was outfitted as a flag transport and shuttled high-ranking officers back and forth between Hawaii and the West Coast. In August 1945 the aircraft and its crew flew to Guam, the forward headquarters for Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas, and soon embarked Nimitz's deputy, Rear Admiral Forrest P. Sherman, for the flight to Tokyo Bay to attend the formal surrender ceremonies ending World War II. After participating in activities surrounding the surrender, the crew of BuNo 7099 was ordered to China to support the occupation of that nation. While there, the aircraft transported such notable flag officers as Admiral Thomas Kinkaid and Army Air Forces Lieutenant General George E. Stratemeyer. During this Chinese interlude, the Navy almost lost BuNo 7099 in the Yellow Sea when heavy seas caused by a nearby typhoon punctured holes in the mammoth flying boat. Though the crew was able to patch them temporarily, they spent the next three days riding the swells and hoping the trusty Coronado would hold together. By the time the storm had passed, BuNo 7099 was a virtual wreck with loose rivets, water in the bilge, and paint stripped off. Flown back to the United States in November 1945, the aircraft was stricken from the Navy inventory in August 1946.
Shortly after its retirement from naval service, BuNo 7099 caught the attention of Howard Hughes, who saw in the Coronado an ideal aircraft to use in preparing for the flight of his famous "Spruce Goose." For the next twenty-seven years, the aircraft's home was Long Beach, California. Hughes maintained the Pacific veteran in flying status until the early-1960s, at which time the control surfaces and propellers were removed and placed in storage. It was donated to the museum in 1977 and is currently undergoing an extensive restoration.
Dimensions: Length: 79 ft., 3 in.; Height: 27 ft., 6 in.; Wingspan: 115 ft.
Source: National Museum of Naval Aviation