Colouring a Cat

My PBY6A sitting on the ramp in Cousteau Society colours
My PBY-6A sitting on the ramp in Cousteau Society colours

I have a new obsession in Second Life. It’s my PBY-6A Catalina flying boat – although the admission of the obsession probably comes as no surprise to regulars on my SL feed of late *coughs*.

I reviewed the Cat toward the end of August, commented that I hoped someone would produce a paint kit with RAF colours, because although the Catalina comes with UV maps, etc., so you can paint it yourself, I’m not sure I’m up for the cut.

Fortunately, fellow SL aviator and friend, Terag Ershtan, alerted me via Twitter to Josh Noonan, who produces a range of paint kits for various customisable aircraft, including the Shana Carpool Catalina. Josh is based on Hollywood Airport, one of my regular spots for starting / ending flights, so I hopped over to see him. And indeed, there on the wall of his hanger was a vendor which included a range of paint kits for the Catalina – although none in RAF colours.

Even so, there was one in the Cousteau Society’s markings, which I simply had to have. Purchasing it, I mentioned RAF colours to Josh, and he said “got any examples?” Well, I didn’t, but it was one of those times I knew Google was my friend, and so passing him a couple of links, I went on my way to paint my Cat in Cousteau colours.

Josh Noonan's Cousteau Society paintwork for the Catalina
Josh Noonan’s Cousteau Society finish for the Catalina

Dropping back to Josh’s hanger at the start of September, I was thrilled to see that he’d added not one, but two RAF Coastal Command paint kits for the Catalina to his range, both of which quickly went into my inventory.

I should point out here that not only are Josh’s kits exceedingly good, they are also based upon actual aircraft – such as the Cousteau’s PBY (tragically lost in an accident), and the RAF kits are no exception.

My PBY6A in the colours of FP225 from 240 Squadron, RAF
My PBY-6A in the colours of FP225 from 240 Squadron, RAF, sitting on the slip at Honah Lee Field and about to lower its floats ready to enter the water

First up is FP225 (above). This aeroplane flew with No. 240 Squadron RAF Coastal Command, and was originally a PBY-5A Catalina. This squadron saw service in the Battle of the Atlantic before transferring to India, with FP225 serving in the squadron’s “special duties” flight – although I have no idea what that entailed.

The second RAF paint kit converts the Catalina into AH545 / WQ-Z of 209 Squadron (below). This is the aeroplane, originally a PBY-5A as well, which located the battleship Bismarck in 1941, and has the more familiar RAF markings.

My PBY6A in the marking of AH545 from No 209 Squadron
My PBY-6A in the marking of AH545 from No 209 Squadron, sitting outside Josh Noonan’s hanger at Hollywood Airport

If I’m totally honest, I have no idea how often I’ll fly The Catalina in RAF colours, I’m far too enamoured with the Cousteau Society paint work. But if you do see an RAF Catalina passing overhead, give a wave – it might be me (well, same goes should you see one in the white, black and yellow of the Cousteau Society!).  In the meantime, Josh has done a lovely job with both kits, and with the Cousteau kit, and I have no hesitation in recommending his work. If you happen to own an aeroplane which has customisable paint options, you might want to check his hanger and see what he has on offer.

Next up: getting a group of Catalina pilots together for some formation flying; that should be fun!

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