Triplane Builder



Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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PBY

(Catalina/Canso)

They said my days were numbered-before the big war came-
"Size and speed-not sufficient-- for 'today'"-
But when our battleships went down- was the only act in town-
That could keep an eye on things- come what may!

I was no beauty winner with my high placed big long wing-
My hull lines left lots to be desired-
Pylon that joined the two-- (at one time something new)-
By now looked less-- than something thought inspired.

Eighteen thirty Pratts-extending from my wing-
Twin props spinning above the spray-
Aft blisters along each side where machine guns can be plied-
Sponsons are my wing tips-in a way.

My cruising speed was always kind of slow--
Range was the why--of the why I'm here
With the gas I had aboard-(a really hefty hoard)-
Could spend almost a day-way up there.

I was somewhat battle proven before the U.S. war began-
(British had tried me out-- sometime before)-
The German "Bismark"-seen from me when it had tried to flee-
From the Royal Navy's "even-ing" of a score'.

The "B" in 'PBY' says I'm a "bomber"-
My crews made sure this name was really true-
Bombs and depth charges were the things to hang beneath my wings-
(Sometimes an old torpedo hung there too).

Radar-gave me vision in the starlight--
Which meant I fly patrols--- up in the dark--
With black paint on my skin, could most times get close in-
Enemy nighttime shipping was my mark.

'Tis easy to be seen that I'm not a beauty queen--
But as I plied the oceans in my search
To someone on a raft--- was no comelier craft-
This big old boat left damned few in the lurch.

U boats were wary of my shape-
Knew well the damage I could do-
With convoys down below, I lumbered low and slow-
Seeking wakes that periscopes can brew.

The plan that said my type should soon retire-
Was abandoned and my numbers really grew-
With my change to a Dash five my options came alive-
Suffix "A's" had wheels for airport landings too.

So I made it through the war the whole world over-
Not required to merely "fade away"-
Flew with the PBM-- went to "reserves" and then-
Fire-fighter-transport-- yacht-- in later day.

As airplanes came and went, I was almost heaven sent-
Blessed with serendipitous design -
Did what I was built for-- and the many things and more-
That constitute a legacy this fine.

Bill Woodall







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