During the 1930s and into the early 1940s, the U.S. Navy considered flying boats the key for long-range scouting for the battle fleet. The aircraft primarily were the Consolidated PBY Catalina and the newly introduced Martin PBM Mariner.1
The flying boats were supported by a flotilla of seaplane tenders. At the time, it was proposed that a large catapult fitted on a ship could launch the flying boats with greater fuel or weapons loads than was possible with water takeoffs. To demonstrate the feasibility of the concept, the Navy ordered a prototype XPBM-2 aircraft from the Glenn L. Martin Company and ordered a catapult ship—designated AVC-1—from the Philadelphia Navy Yard.
The XPBM-2 was a basic twin-engine, high-wing flying boat of the Mariner series, but with additional fuel tanks and a reinforced airframe to permit catapult launching. It was to have a 4,000-mile range while carrying a significant bomb load. Only one aircraft of that configuration was built.
1. See N. Polmar, “A Very Able Mariner,” Naval History (December 2007), 12–13. The Navy procured 1,399 PBMs.
2. Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, Ships’ Data U.S. Naval Vessels, vol. III (Washington, DC: 15 April 1945), 426–27.
3. Bureau of Ships, Ships’ Data, 426.