The fastest growing arm of the Navy- today is Aircraft Base Force, the patrol plane squadrons. The planes with which this expansion is being effected are the longest range seagoing planes in existence. Since 1928, cruising ranges have been increased from 950 miles to more than 4,000 miles. The up-to-date patrol plane now being delivered to the fleet patrol plane squadrons is a far cry from the H-boats and F-5-L’s which braved coastal seas on war-time anti-submarine patrol in 1917-18. Although the new PBY’s can trace their lineage from these flying boats of World War fame, the rapid development of modern types did not begin until 1928. Prior to that time, the fleet patrol plane squadrons consisted mostly of F-5-L’s, all World War hangovers. The NC’s had a brief, hectic career in fleet operations. The PN’s hardly could be said to have had a career in the fleet at all. They were, nevertheless, the patrol plane guinea pigs of the Navy, built by the Naval Aircraft Factory in many variations of the basic hull-type flying boat. The PN-7, as modified in the PN-12, may be said to have been the immediate forerunner of our modern patrol squadron flying boats.
By Lieutenant Ralph R. Gurley, U. S. Navy