CAF Lake Superior Squadron PBY Catalina – Restoration Update



In further PBY news, following on from our November 2020 restoration progress report concerning the Commemorative Air Force Lake Superior Squadron’s Consolidated PBY-6A Bu.64097, we bring more news on what has happened in the interim…


The Commemorative Air Force Lake Superior Squadron resumed work on their PBY-6A Catalina after the Christmas holiday break. Despite setbacks and adversities the unit’s dedicated volunteers are moving forward with the restoration and have braved the frigid Minnesota weather. While the Catalina remained inside the hangar during the winter, the unit’s new hangar still has no doors to protect the interior from harsh winter conditions unfortunately. 

No particular work has been done on the static, ‘Black Cat PBY’, as the focus is on the other airframe, the one which will eventually fly, which they now refer to as the ‘Blue PBY’. This airframe is the product of the relatively corrosion-free fuselage from Bu.64097 mated with the wings from PBY Bu.64092. The restoration of the Blue PBY has progressed to the point now where the right side forward area is now 99% complete.  The team is presently awaiting the arrival of Hi-Lok fasteners to finish the Jack point installation, and on Cherry Max rivets to complete a dozen or so other points. Just so you know, a Hi-Lok is a simple, two-part fastener engineered to achieve, in one all-purpose system, the design features suiting many of today’s aerospace assembly needs. While Hi-Lok and Cherry Max fasteners are more recent hardware designs, they are virtually indistinguishable from conventional rivets at a distance, and save considerable time for the installation of components which traditional hardware couldn’t achieve without significant additional disassembly work.  

Volunteer Dan Guinee and Rich Cahoon working on riveting the panel on the ride side of the fuselage

The Commemorative Air Force Lake Superior Squadron is working in cooperation with AirCorps Aviation to produce extrusion material for the cockpit navigation area ceiling. They estimate that around 200 ft is needed to complete the full restoration. This will be the next area they begin restoring.

Amazingly the volunteers have been working inside the hangar during the winter. They rigged a heated tent around the airframe areas where the crews are active, and the enclosure seems to be effective in maintaining a comfortable work environment. Even so, the lack of hangar doors does make it impractical to work on the whole airframe, so the CAF Lake Superior Squadron is currently raising funds to purchase hangar doors, which will make working on their aircraft far more practical, whatever the water conditions. Please click HERE to help.

The tented area around the CAF’s PBY is heated so that the work crews could keep the restoration progressing, even during the harsh winter weather. It’s still not an ideal solution to the problem though, which really requires the purchase of new hangar doors for their facility.

That’s all for the present progress report, but we look forwards to bringing more regular stories on the CAF’s PBY in the coming months.

Please click HERE to support this restoration.

eBay Deal: WW 2 USN PBY Catalina Seaplane USN Frequency Meter Type CKB-74028,LM-14 Radio (click on the image)





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