The Consolidated P2Y was the second flying boat to be designed by Consolidated for the US Navy, and the first to be produced by that company. Consolidated had previously designed the XPY-1, but this aircraft had been produced as the Martin P3M (only nine were built).
The P2Y was a significant improvement on the P3M, and is generally considered to have been the first modern patrol aircraft to serve with the US Navy. It remained in use as a front line aircraft for eight years, from 1933, and this period saw the US Navy develop the operating procedures that they would later use with the much more numerous PBY Catalina.
Consolidated were awarded a contract to develop the new flying boat on 26 May 1931. Although the P2Y used the same wing as the XPY-1/ P3M, it was twelve feet longer than the earlier aircraft. The crew were carried in enclosed compartments within the fuselage.
The XP2Y-1 was built with three Wright R-1820-E Cyclone engines, each giving 575hp. Two were mounted between the wing and the fuselage, as on the XPY-1, with the third above the wing. Flight tests proved that the third engine did not improve the performance of the aircraft, and it was soon removed.
The outrigger floats of the XP2Y-1 were supported on a small lower wing, level with the top of the fuselage. This small wing gave the XP2Y-1 a much larger wing surface area than the XPY-1 (1,514 sq ft, up from 1,115 sq ft), and also reduced drag.
The first flight of the XP2Y-1 was made on 26 March 1932, nine months after Consolidated received a production order for the aircraft.
The P2Y-1 was the production version of the XP2Y-1. Twenty three were ordered on 7 July 1931, and the first squadron to receive the new aircraft was VP-10S, on 1 February 1933. The first 22 aircraft were powered by a pair of 575hp Wright RE-1820E Cylone engines, while the last aircraft was used as the XP2Y-2 prototype. The P2Y-1 was also used by squadron VP-5F.
The final P2Y-1 was used as the prototype XP2Y-2. This aircraft was given more powerful 700hp Wright R-1820-88 Cyclone engines, and the engines were moved from their position below the wing into nacelles on the leading edge of the wing. This new arrangement helped to reduce drag, and improved the performance of the aircraft.
The designation P2Y-2 was given to P2Y-1s that were updated to match the XP2Y-2, with engines in the wings.
The twenty three P2Y-3s were ordered on 27 December 1933. They were similar to the XP2Y-2, with their engines mounted in nacelles in the front of the wing, but were given 750hp Wright R-1820-99 Cyclone engines. The P2Y-3 entered service in 1935, and survived as a front line aircraft until 1941. The last P2Y in squadron service was a P2Y-3 of squadron VP-43, still in use on 31 March 1941. By the end of 1941 all surviving P2Ys had moved to NAS Pensacola, where they were used as training aircraft.
Stats for P2Y-3
Engine: Two Wright R-1820-90 Cyclones
Length: 61ft 9in )
Height: 17ft 3in
Empty Weight: 11,829lbs
Gross Weight: 20,545lbs
Range: 1,780 miles
Armament: One .30in machine guns in nose, two in gun hatches behind the wings.