The Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer was a World War II and Korean War era patrol bomber of the United States Navy based on the Consolidated B-24 Liberator.
PB4Y-2 Privateer 204 on the apron
The Navy began using B-24s with only minor modifications as the PB4Y-1 Liberator. At the Navy's request for a long-range, land-based aircraft specially designed for naval activities, Consolidated developed a long-range patrol bomber in 1943, designated the PB4Y-2 Privateer.
The Privateer was externally similar to the Liberator, but the fuselage was seven feet longer to accommodate a flight engineer's station, and it had a tall single vertical stabilizer rather than the B-24's twin tail configuration.
Delivery began in 1944—in time for several squadrons to see service toward the end of WWII. The aircraft performed reconnaissance, search and rescue, and anti-shipping roles.
Privateers were used as typhoon/hurricane hunters from 1945 to the mid-1950s.
PB4Y-2s were also used during the Korean War to fly "Firefly" night illumination missions dropping parachute flares to detect North Korean and Chinese seaborne infiltrators.
PB4Y-2 Privateer in flight
Consolidated delivered 739 Privateers by the end of production, most after the end of World War II.
All U.S. Navy PB4Y-2s were retired by 1954, though unarmed PB4Y-2G Privateers served until 1958 with the Coast Guard before being auctioned off for salvage.
Some Privateers continued in civilian service as airtankers, dropping fire retardant on forest fires throughout the western United States. Several "Super Privateers" were operated by Hawkins & Powers Aviation of Greybull, Wyoming, which used them in the fire-fighting role under contract to the US Forest Service.
Only a small number of Privateers survive today, including those in the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, and the Museum of Flight & Aerial Firefighting in Greybull, Wyoming.
PB4Y-2 Privateer Photographs
U.S. Navy PB4Y-2 Privateer in flight over the ocean
United States Coast Guard PB4Y-2 Privateer 6306 on duty
PB4Y-2 Privateer 59-819 at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona
PB4Y-2 Privateer at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida
PB4Y-2 Privateer firefighter 126 at the Museum of Flight & Aerial Firefighting in Greybull, Wyoming
(Photo courtesy of the Museum of Flight & Aerial Firefighting)