The image gallery above reproduces a report by Consolidated Aircraft Company dated February 15, 1944 summarizing the findings of a series of take-off tests made on a production PB2Y-3 Coronado airplane fitted with special “jet” propulsion motor equipment for assisted take-off. (These were not jets in the modern sense but small rocket motors). The jet motor units, of which three were used, were designed to deliver 2,000 lbs thrust per motor for a period of approximately forty seconds. The three JATO units were not placed externally in droppable units along the sides of the fuselage; rather, they were permanently installed in the rear step of the flying boat’s hull, with spherical fuel tanks located in the main compartment of the airplane. This was an experimental installation and not incorporated into production Coronados, as far as is known to this author.
Twenty-five charges of the jet fuel were furnished, and twenty-three jet assisted take-offs were made, together with two static ground tests which completed the program. Whenever practicable, comparison take-offs with no jet assistance were made immediately after the jet take-offs. In this way data were obtained for both assisted and unassisted take-offs with the same water and wind conditions and with the pilot’s ability to match the take-offs enhanced by the short time elapsed. Comparison take-offs were not made for any of the 70,000 lb or 72,000 lb loadings, as it was felt that wear and tear on the airplane would be excessive at these high loads, due to the long take-off times and bad spray conditions. Considerable data suitable for comparison were available from other tests on unassisted take-offs of this airplane, at high gross weights. All gross weights included the weight of fixed jet equipment, but did not include the weight of the propellants, as these were expended on takeoff.
To read the report in depth, please click through the gallery above, which features a technical description, a schematic of the modifications made to the PB2Y-3, and 33 detail photos of the installation and tests made with the motors.
All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 72
Report No. ZH-29-021, “Report on Full Scale PB2Y-3 Jet Propulsion Tests for Assisted Takeoff,” February 15, 1944, in the files of the National Archives II at College Park, MD, RG 72