Consolidated P2Y Ranger

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The Ranger was the Navy’s first monoplane patrol aircraft. It enjoyed a long and productive service life and broke several world records for distance flying.

In 1928 the Navy contracted with Consolidated to design and build a monoplane flying boat to replace its aging Naval Aircraft Factory PN series. Consolidated built the XPY1, a large parasol aircraft (a highmounted wing on a single pylon) with a 100foot wingspan and three engines. One engine was mounted above the wings in a nacelle, but it was subsequently deleted. However, owing to a lower bid from Martin, the Navy awarded it the construction contract in 1931, and nine were constructed as the P3M. Undeterred, Consolidated rerefined its existing design into a new aircraft, the XP2Y1. It was a twin-engine sesquiplane, that is, a biplane with a shorter lower wing. The two engines were mounted on struts between the wings, and the cockpit was fully enclosed. The Navy was impressed with its performance and in 1933 authorized 23 machines produced as the P2Y1 Ranger. These were followed by an additional 23 P2Y3s, which sported stronger engines; the engine nacelles were faired directly into the wing’s leading edge to reduce drag.

The Ranger proved itself to be a rugged and dependable aircraft, capable of oceanic flights. In September 1933 Lieutenant Commander Donald M. Carpenter of Patrol Squadron VP5 made history by flying six P2Y1s nonstop from Norfolk, Virginia, to Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, a distance of 2,059 miles. In January 1934 Lieutenant Commander Knefler McGinnis led six P2Y1s of VP10 from San Francisco 2,408 miles west to Hawaii, another world record. In each instance all aircraft performed up to expectations. The P2Ys remained actively employed in American service until 1941, when they went into storage. Ironically, one Ranger sold to Japan served as the basis for the Kawanishi H6K Mavis flying boat of World War II.

Type: Patrol Bomber

Dimensions: wingspan, 100 feet; length, 61 feet, 9 inches; height, 19 feet, 1 inch

Weights: empty, 12,769 pounds; gross, 25,266 pounds

Power plant: 2 × 750–horsepower Wright R1820 radial engines

Performance: maximum speed, 139 miles per hour; ceiling, 16,100 feet; maximum range, 1,180 miles

Armament: 3 × .30–caliber machine guns; 2,000 pounds of bombs

Service dates: 1934–1941

Forschungsmitarbeiter Mitch Williamson is a technical writer with an interest in military and naval affairs. He has published articles in Cross & Cockade International and Wartime magazines. He was research associate for the Bio-history Cross in the Sky, a book about Charles ‘Moth’ Eaton’s career, in collaboration with the flier’s son, Dr Charles S. Eaton. He also assisted in picture research for John Burton’s Fortnight of Infamy. Mitch is now publishing on the WWW various specialist websites combined with custom website design work. He enjoys working and supporting his local C3 Church. “Curate and Compile“
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