Last updated 17 July 2023

Compiled by Geoff Goodall

Qantas Empire Airways' PB2B-2 Catalina VH-EBD "Island Patrol" ex RAAF A24-371 in New Guinea during the 1950s.
Photo: The Collection p1177-0333              

                  Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at Buffalo New York designed and the Model 28 Catalina series, which commenced production at Consolidated's pant at San Deigo California for civil and military orders. During 1941 corporate mergers resulted in the company's name changing to Consolidated-Vultee Aircraft Corp, and in 1943 changed again to Convair Aircaft Corp.  To cope with large wartime military orders for Catalinas of various models, the San Diego factory was supplemented by a new Consolidated manufacturing plant on Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans, Louisiana.
                  Wartime Catalina production was sub-contracted to two Canadian manufacturers:
- Boeing Aircraft of Canada Ltd, Vancouver, British Columbia:
- Canadian Vickers Ltd, Montreal, Quebec - reformed in 1944 as Canadair Ltd

                  The Royal Australian Air Firce received 168 Catalinas of various models during WWII. The majority were retired at the end of the war but a small number continued in the SAR role and for special missions. During 1946 the Commonwealth Disposals Commission commenced auction sales of large numbers of retired RAAF Catalinas, located at RAAF Lake Boga, Victoria and RAAF Rathmines NSW, which had been respectively No.1 Flying Boat Repair Depot and No.2 FBRD during the war.
                  The tender forms for these disposals aircraft included a declaration that the Department of Civil Aviation considered the Catalina series suitable for Australian civil certification. Those in the best condition were purchased by airlines and civilian concerns with optimistic plans for civil air services.  Many in poor condition were sold at reduced prices to various civilian concerns to be stripped for engines and spare parts, then broken-up for scrap metal. The remainder were handed over to the Department of Aircraft Production organisation to be sold locally at token prices as "aircraft remnants"-  most towed away by farmers to provide a variety of parts for use on their properties.

                  1FBRD at Lake Boga and 2FBRD at Rathmines on Lake Macquarie serviced Catalinas of other military arms operating in Australia during the war - US Navy, Netherlands Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force and RAF. In 1942 US Navy Catalina units retreating from the Japanese invasions of the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies had established bases at Nedlands on the Swan River in Perth and also Exmouth WA, code name Potshot.  No foreign Catalinas remained in in Australia after the war to become civil registered.

                   This summary is presented in the following order:
1. A pre-war visitor - Guba
2  First RAAF deliveries - allocated civil registrations
3. Wartime Qantas Indian Ocean Service
4. Post-war RAAF Catalina disposals issued civil registrations
5. Other Post-war RAAF Catalina disposals

PART 2:  
1. Imported civil Catalinas and visiting aircraft
2. Transitting French Catalinas to the Pacific


Dyak natives unloading supplies from NC777 in Netherlands New Guinea in 1938.              Photo: Wally Civitico collection

The first of the Consolidated Catalina family to be seen in Australia was NC777, a Consolidated model 28-3, from the civilian development models that led to the PBY- military series.  Purchased from Consolidated by wealthy American zoologist Dr. Richard Archbold for research expeditions, it crossed the Pacific Ocean from California to New Guinea over 8 days in June 1938 for his third exploration mission of New Guinea. On completion in May 1939 Guba was flown from New Guinea to Sydney because Archbold had offered it to the Australian and British Government for a survey flight across the Indian Ocean by Australian Captain P. G. Taylor.

                         Consolidated 28-3   c/n C-3               Guba                                                                          NC777
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at San Diego CA
Equivalent to the US Navy PBY-2 model but had an additional right side window,
ice shields below cockpit and minor changes
Delivered wealthy zoologist Dr. Richard Archbold, New York, NY
Named Guba (a Motu word meaning squall)

Replaced a previous Consolidated Model 28-1 flying boat delivered to Archbold in June 1937 also registered NC777 and named Guba. In August 1937 it had sold to the Russian Government which engaged Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins to mount a search for a missing Russian aviator Sigismund Levaneski and his 5 crew on a trans-Polar flight attempt. The month-long search was unsuccessful.
The aircraft was then used by the Russian Navy and was destroyed by shelling from a German U-Boat at Moller Bay, Novaya Zemla on 26.7.42.

The second Guba was crewed by Archbold's personal pilot Russel R. Rogers and pilot
Stephen A. Barinka, navigator Lewis A. Yancey, radio operator Raymond E. Booth and flight engineer Gerald D. Brown.
Dr. Archbold was leader of an American Museum of Natural History Expedition to Netherlands New Guinea. This was his third expedition to New Guinea. The flying boat's role was to support ground teams
Departed San Diego CA for Hollandia, Netherlands New Guinea.
First leg to Hawaii was 18 hours flight time, Wake Island 16 hours, Hollandia 16 hours.
Arrived at Hollandia

Over the next 11 months NC777 made 168 flights in New Guinea in support of the expedition, including landing on Lake Habbema, 200 miles inland at elevation 11,000 ft.
NC777 flew from Hollandia to visit Port Moresby. The following day Archbold made a series of local flights taking a number of Port Moresby citizens for joy flights
Visited Port Moresby again to collect a replacement Sperry auto-pilot which had been shipped from America. It was installed and tested over two days in flights from Port Moresby harbour but Chief Pilot Russel Rogers was not satisfied with its performance.
Russel Rogers flew NC777 from Port Moresby to Cairns, Qld where the problem was rectified. Departed Cairns for Port Moresby on 19.10.38
NC777 arrived at Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney Harbour to collect supplies for the Archbold New Guinea expedition. Had flown from Port Morsby in 11 hours 50 mins
Flew Sydney-Melbourne to have the troublesome Sperry auto-pilot system checked by airline instrument specialists. Landed at Williamstown and moored in Williamstown boat harbour before returning to Sydney several days later.
The Archbold New Guinea expedition concluded when the Catalina brought all expedition personnel back to Hollandia from the final camp site.

Australian record-breaking pilot and navigator Captain P.G. Taylor successfully lobbied the Australian and British Governments on the value of an alternative Indian Ocean route for Empire Air Mail service between Australia and Britain, in case the looming war cut the normal route vis Singapore and India.
Taylor suggested Archbold be approached at Government level to use Guba for a survey flight across the Indian Ocean from Australia to Africa. Archbold offered his aircraft and all facilities. P. G. Taylor would be in charge of the survey flight, but the aircraft would be operated by Archbold and his flight crew.
NC777 departed Hollandia for Port Moresby then Sydney.
Arrived Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney Harbour
Overhaul at Rose Bay by Qantas Empire Airways, including installation of extra fuel tanks. All costs of the Indian Ocean survey flight were met by the Australian Government
To commence the Indian Ocean survey flew Sydney-Port Hedland WA in 19 hours.
Captain P.G.Taylor and Sydney newspaper journalist Jack Percival were on board, with Richard Archbold and the same crew he had engaged to fly Guba across the Pacific from America the previous year.:
Pilot : Russel R. Rogers
Navigator: Lewis A. Yancey
Radio operator: Raymond E. Booth
Engineers: Stephen A Barrinka and Gerald D. Brown
Refuelled from cans on Port Hedland harbour, then late that afternoon departed for Cocos Islands.  Unable to locate the Cocos Islands group so forced to divert to Batavia, Netherlands East Indies (now Jakarta) where landed after 22 hours in the air
Departed Batavia and successfully located Cocos Island and landed in a lagoon off Direction Island.  Taylor spent a week surveying sites for an airstrip and flying boat operations
departed Cocos Islands for Diego Garcia, Mahe Seychelles and Mombasa, Kenya
Reached Mombasa

Archbold and his crew then headed for home, NC777 making water landings at Lake Victoria and Coquilhatville on the Congo River, Dakar, across the South Atlantic to St Thomas, West Indies then non-stop to New York. Reached New York on 1.7.40.
NC777 returned to San Diego, completing the first around-the-world flight by a seaplane
Acquired by the British Aircraft Purchasing Commission based in USA to urgently procure military aircraft for RAF and Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm.

BAPC purchased this non-standard Catalina intending it to be used for crew training in Canada. However they were instructed to make it available for ferry to Britain
Issued to Ministry of Aircraft Production as Catalina 1 AM258.  Later notation says "number issued in error". AM258 was already been allocated to a RAF Liberator.
25-27.10.40Catalina AM258 delivered by a two man crew from Botwood NFLD to Stranraer, Scotland (16 hours) then to Pembroke Dock.  This was one of the first Atlantic air deliveries and two weeks later the pilot gave a briefing to the crews of the first Bomber Ferry Service on The Atlantic Bridge on 10.11.40 when seven RAF Hudsons departed Gander for Britain.

British Minstry of Aircraft Production allocated AM258 to BOAC for wartime services
BOAC delivery date
Registered G-AGBJ Ministry of Aircraft Production
Change of ownership:  British Overseas Airways Corporation, Hythe  Named Guba
Commenced BOAC service Poole to Lisbon
Commenced BOAC West Africa Service: Poole to Lisbon, Bathurst, Freetown, Lagos
G-AGBJ was damaged by a lone Luftwaffe He 111 attack on Poole flying boat base
Log book entry: G-AGBJ name Guba flown Lagos to Poole via Bathurst, Lisbon, Foynes
Operated its last service for BOAC.  Returned to RAF
Issued to The Air Council, allocated a new serial as Catalina Mk.1 SM706
Issued to Sauders-Roe Ltd, Beaumaris, Aglesey as a company transport to carry aircraft components for military aircraft production
BOAC records date of disposal to Saunders Roe Aviation
Issued to Ministry of Supply
Used to test flying boat moorings at Pwellheli, North Wales
Damaged by gale winds at moorings, Pwellheli, North Wales.
Stripped of parts then scuttled at sea later that year

                    NC777 in Netherlands New Guinea during 1938.  Model 28-3 was roughly equivalent to the military PBY-2                             
Photo: Wally Civitico collection

NC777 at Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney Harbour in November 1938.  The large Qantas Empire Airways
hangar for their Shorts C Class flying boats is under construction behind.            Ben Dannecker collection

NC777 moored in the Williamstown boat harbour, Melbourne in 1939.                   Geoff Goodall collection

A magazine picture at Rose Bay on the day of departure for Africa.    L-R Gerald Brown (engineer),
Lewis Yancey (Nav), P. G. Taylor,  Russel Rogers (pilot), Richard Archbold (cigarette), S.Barrinka (engineer)

Richard Archbold (right) and his pilot Russel Rogers board NC777 at Rose Bay, Sydney 3 June 1939, to begin
the survey
flight from Australia to South Africa.                                                     Geoff Goodall collection


                An Australian War Cabinet decision of 5.6.40 approved the purchase of seven PBY-5 floatplanes plus 20% spare parts. The order was placed through Brown & Dureau Ltd, Melbourne, the Australian agents for Consolidated Aircraft Corp and other US manufacturers, including Pratt & Whitney engines. Because the United States was not yet at war, delivery to Australia had to be handled with diplomacy.
               The US Department of State dictated that the Australian Catalinas could be ferried to the last refuelling point in US Territory in Hawaii by American civil crews, then taken over by Australian civilian (non miltary) crews for the rest of the delivery to Australia.  The Department of Civil Aviation approached Qantas Empire Airways to supply experienced long-distance aircrew from the Sydney-Singapore route with navigators licences. Qantas management, with thoughts of future expansion across the Pacific, gladly cooperated, nominating Captains, First Officers, navigation officers and flight engineers. Operations Manager Captain L.J. Brain was in charge of the operation.
                The initial order by the Australian Government.was soon changed to 18. The first RAAF Catalinas were Consolidated model 28-5MA (equivalent to the US Navy PBY-5) and were delivered by Qantas crews.  To assist official handling of these military Catalinas during the United States neutrality policy, DCA allocated civil registrations VH-AFA to VH-AFS.  These were effectively radio callsigns and were never painted on the aircraft, nor were they recorded in the DCA Civil Aircraft Register ledger at the time.  VH-AFA to VH-AFS were subsequently allocated to civil aircraft in 1945-46 when the normal allocation sequence reached the VH-AF series.

                Meanwhile, Australian long-distance pilot and navigator P.G. Taylor, fresh from his successful Indian Ocean survey flight to Africa in Catalina Guba, personally lobbied Federal politicians and even the Prime Minister, that his navigation experience was essential for Qantas to achieve the task. Taylor was a complex character, well-described by experienced Australian pilot Harry Purvis, who Taylor selected to be his co-pilot for the 1951 survey flight from Sydney to South America and return in Catalina VH-ASA - see below.
                "P. G. "Bill" Taylor was a visionary who had proved himself time and again a brilliant achiever. His Indian Ocean flight in "Guba" in 1939 for example, had been of tremendous stategic value during the war years and he had written about his exploits, and aviation in general, with great insight, style and ability. These attributes, together with his manner and attitudes, which sprang from a very much taken-for-granted upper-middle-class background, made him a natural associate of the statesmen of the day. It also madce him some enemies, both in the RAAF and civil aviation, when it was seen that doors in high places seemd to open more readily for him than for others. Bill rode over all this in his rather egotistical way."

                Taylor's letters to senior politicians urging his inclusion in the Qantas contract are included in a Department of Civil Aviation file, held by National Archives of Australia. When his proposal was accepted, Taylor presented a list of his requirements, stressing his status within the command structure of each Qantas flight crew he joined and dictating such items as his Honolulu hotel accommodation must be superior to that of the Qantas Captains. One can only imagine the reaction of the airline's management to being instructed to include a non-company man, with no knowledge of the airline's operational cockpit procedures, who had a wide reputation as a volatile loner with high opinions of his own abilities.  Nevertheless, such was Taylor's presence, that a Qantas Management report written by Operations Manager Captain Lester Brain,  describing the first RAAF Catalina delivery flight which he commanded, included "Captain Taylor was in charge of navigation throughout the flight and his work in this department was tireless, methodical and efficient." 

                In December 1940 QEA senior engineer Dudley Wright and former Qantas pilot, now RAAF Squadron Leader  G. U. "Scotty" Allan were sent to the Consolidated Aircraft plant at San Diego, California to familiarise with the aircraft and prepare for the Australian deliveries. In January 1941 Qantas Operations Manager Captain Lester Brain and other company personnel arrived at San Diego, having travelled across the Pacific Ocean on the Pan American Clipper flying boat service from NZ to Los Angeles. Brain's report stated that he had received every facility and help from the American airline, allowing his party to study every aspect of the oceanic operation and inspect the flying boat bases that his Catalinas would soon use on their deliveries.  Brain's report stated:
"The Consolidated San Diego factory is in full production with 20,000 employees. A second factory is being erected and will also have 20,000 employees. At present the factory is working two shifts a day, each of 10 hours. Aircraft output has outstripped space. In some sections, work of semi-complete aircraft is progressing in buildings which are still in the course of erection. At this moment there are literally acres of large modern warplanes under construction out of doors.  The fine dry climate makes this possible. Catalinas are being completed at a rate of about 8 each week.  I have never seen higher quality workmanship."

               The first Qantas delivery departed San Diego, California on 25.1.41 for Honolulu, under the command of Consolidated's pilot
E. J. Greer.  Captain Brain was second pilot and also on board were Scotty Allan (listed as a QEA Captain to disguise his RAAF rank), P.G.Taylor, Dudley Wright, Qantas radio operator A.S.Patterson and two RAAF men returning home after service in Britain with No.10 Squadron, Sgts Bill Richmond and George Bemrose. At Pearl Harbor Lester Brain took command for the rest of the Pacific crossing, with P.G.Taylor supervising navigation. They refuelled at Canton Island and Noumea,  reaching Rose Bay, Sydney on 2 February in 60 hours 16 minutes flying time.  The first Catalina was a newly-completed RAF aircraft AH534 which the British agreed to divert to the Australian order because of production delays. Brain's report to Qantas head office Sydney:
"Departing San Diego at 1540 hours local time, we alighted at Honolulu 22 hours 5 minutes later. On arrival we had sufficient fuel for a further four or five hours' flying, the consumption being slightly higher than usual owing to the abnormal load at departure. In addition to ten personnel, there was baggage, emergency rations, equipment and miscellaneous gear supplied with the aircraft from the factory. Even the armour plating was not removed."

               This first Catalina delivery flight was named Qantas Trip A, followed by 18 deliveries up to Qantas Trip S in October 1941, which was also under the command of Captain Lester Brain.  No aircraft was damaged in this excellent display of aimanship by Qantas, carried out under wartime censorship.

Two views  of the first RAAF Catalina delivery by Qantas Empire Airways at Pearl Harbor in January 1941.
The aircraft was RAF Catalina AH534 which had been diverted to the RAAF order to cover production delays.
  QEA Operations Manager Captain Lester Brain is at far left.

Photos: Civil Aviation Historical Society, Lester J. Brain Collection

Typical of the Qantas deliveries, A24-5 at Rose Bay in June 1941 at the time of its arrival from USA.
                         Photo: Dave Eyre collection

              There is considerable conjecture between aviation historians over the identities of the early Qantas deliveries. 
              Qantas Captain Lester Brain's report on the delivery operation sets the scene:
"On arrival at San Diego in early January 1941, I was informed by Mr. F.B.Clapp, Australian Trade Commissioner in the United States, that the first Australian aircraft aircraft would not be ready until the first week of February. At the same time I was informed that the first four British Catalinas were waiting on the ramp to be flown away, but the British delivery crew organisation could not cope at that time. Since the Australian and British machines were identical in practically every detail, even to camouflage and markings, it was suggested through Mr. Clapp to the British authorities that we take over one of the four so we could return to Australia on schedule, and our first could be taken by the British when ready. Long negotiations followed and eventually the British authorities enquired whether I thought Australian crews available at San Diego could take two RAF aircraft immediately to Australia, one to remain the property of the Australian Government and the other to be flown on to Singapore.  Since Captain G.U."Scotty" Allan lately with QEA and now RAAF and Mr. F.B.Chapman, former navigator on the trans-Tasman service were in San Diego in addition to several RAAF radio men and engineers, I replied in the affirmative.
              The two aircraft were readied for departure on 24 January 1941. Owing to weather conditions and other matters, departure was delayed until the following afternoon. At 0830 on 25 January, the British authorities changed their minds and decided the second aircraft would not go to Singapore. Rapid rearrangement of crews was made. We adhered to the original plan, whereby Captain Taylor, Wright, Patterson and myself, with G.U.Allen and two RAAF sergeants as supernumeraries, accompanied the three Consolidated Aircraft crew. Captain O. Denny was to join us at Honolulu. We took off at San Diego at 1540 local time on 25th January. The take off time was 47 seconds and we took water over the cockpit for some seconds early in the run. Alighting at Honolulu 22 hours and 5 minutes later, we had sufficient fuel for a further 4 or 5 hours flying."

             All indications are that the identities of the deliveries were as follows:
- Trip A VH-AFA:  AH534 departed San Diego 25.1.41, arrived Sydney 2.2.41.   To RAAF A24-1
- Trip B VH-AFB:  A24-1   departed San Diego 12.2.41, arrived Sydney 27.2.41. Changed to A24-2 on arrival
- Trip C VH-AFC:  AH540 arrived Sydney 12.3.41, delivered from Australia to RAF Singapore 20-23.3.41
- Trip D VH-AFD:  A24-3  departed San Diego 5.4.41, arrived Sydney 12.4.41. 
- Trip E to Trip S: VH-AFE to VH-AFS: A24-4 to A24-18 in sequence, final delivery October 1941.
Perth-Ceylon in radio silence-Karachi

The wartime Qantas base on the Swan River at Nedlands, Perth in 1945.  The RAF camouflage has all but
worn off
the nose of G-AGFL"Vega Star" in foreground. Behind are G-AGIE No.4 and G-AGFM No.2.
Photo: The Collection p1177-0303

                  This inspirational wartime operation created an Indian Ocean air link between Australia and Great Britain. The pre-war Empire Air Route via Singapore and Netherlands East Indies had been cut by Japanese occupation and the only air contact between Australia and Britain was provided by US military transports across the Pacific to USA, then across the Atlantic. 
                  Backed by the British and Australian Governments, a non-stop Perth-Ceylon route was proposed. Qantas Empire Airways agreed to operate the service, their pilots flying Catalinas loaned by BOAC. Qantas established a small base on the Swan River in the Perth suburb of Nedlands, close to a US Navy Catalina base at Crawley Bay.  The first two Catalinas G-AGFL and G-AGFM had been operating BOAC wartime services on Mediterranean and African routes for some time before being diverted to Australia. The pair, flown by RAF crews, made seven proving flights between Ceylon and Perth, on the northbound flights carrying Qantas personnel and equipment to establish the Lake Koggala base. G-AGID and G-AGIE were RAF Catalinas diverted to the Indian Ocean service just as it was commenced, hastily given civil certification in the name of BOAC in July 1943 and ferried to Perth. The fifth Catalina G-AGKS was transferred from the RAF ten months later to provide extra capacity. when the Qantas Perth-Ceylon route was extended to Karachi.
                  All five retained their RAF camouflage, markings and serials.  On arrival Perth, each had a Qantas fleet number 1 to 5 painted in white on the tail, "Qantas Empire Airways Ltd"painted over the camouflage on the nose along with the aircraft's "star"name. With no radio navigation aids on the ocean crossing, navigation by celestial star-shots was a critical factor, so the aircraft were named after the stars used.

Qantas Tail number / BOAC Registration / Catalina model / RAF type / RAF serial / Construction number / Name / details
Catalina 1B
122 / 808*
Vega Star
Reg.  BOAC 27.10.42, CofA 31.10.42
Catalina 1B
145 / 831
Altair Star
Reg. BOAC 27.10.42, CofA 31.10.42
Catalina IVA
182 /1109
Rigel Star
Reg. BOAC 5.7.43, CofA 21.7.43
Catalina IVA
184 / 1111
Antares Star
Reg. BOAC 5.7.43, CofA 7.43
Catalina IVB

Spica Star
Reg. BOAC 6.4.44, CofA 2.5.44

 *Dual manufacturer serial numbers:  first number is the serial number within the contract batch, the second number being the Consolidated serial number in the overall Catalina production. British and Australian official paperwork of the period only quoted the lower number.

                The first Qantas service departed the Swan River Perth on 29 June 1943 and landed on Lake Koggala, Ceylon.  Flights were operated in Japanese controlled airspace so radio-silence was maintained for the non-stop flights, time varying between 27 and 32 hours, depending on winds.  The only mid-ocean diversion point enroute was the Cocos Islands, but it was avoided because of Japanese air activity.    The Catalinas did land at Cocos on several occasions, one being 14.2.44 when Qantas Captain Russell Tapp commanding a Perth-Ceylon service agreed to divert to collect a Naval officer at Cocos - while refuelling on the lagoon from 4 gallon cans, a Japanese bomber flew over at 4,000 feet but continued out of sight.  With no sign of his return, Tapp had ordered refuelling to recommence when the aircraft dropped a bomb from 15,000 feet overhead, missing the Catalina by 60 metres. The dinghy crew dived overboard and those on shore flattened themselves on the ground. The Japanese aircraft made no further attack but stayed over Cocos, probably signalling his base. Tapp had the diplomatic mail and safe-hand dispatches brought ashore in case the Catalina was sunk, but after refuelling departed safely for Ceylon.
                 The British CofA stipulated a Maximum All Up Weight of 33,000 lbs, but Qantas gained Australian DCA approval for MAUW increase to 35,000 lbs, allowing each aircraft to carry almost an extra ton of fuel. After much correspondence, the British civil aviation authorities finally agreed to the higher MAUW in January 1944, despite Qantas operating to that weight for six months.
                 With their heavy fuel loads, the Catalinas had a very limited payload, made up of highest-priority military mail and diplomatic messages, much of it micro-filmed to reduce weight. A maximum of 3 passengers approved at highest Government level could be carried. After a cramped, cold and uncomfortable trip, each passenger received a certificate The Secret Order of the Double Sunrise, signed by the Qantas Captain.
                  From Ceylon the priority mail and passengers continued by local airlines to Karachi where RAF Transport Command aircraft flew wartime routings to Britain. Qantas were later asked to extend from Ceylon to Karachi where the transfer to RAF would be more effective.  This remarkable air service from Perth to India return each week commencing November 1943 covered a greater distance than Qantas  peacetime Sydney-Singapore sector and would have been celebrated, but as a wartime military necessity it was operated in secrecy to protect the aircrew.

Casting off the mooring ropes at Lake Koggala, Ceylon                                               Photos: Qantas

Nedlands base on the Swan River, Perth WA

Nedlands, Perth WA

                 In June 1944 the British authorities released to Qantas two RAF Consolidated LB.30 Liberators then being operated by BOAC, to supplement the Catalinas on the Indian ocean route. G-AGKT and G-AGKU had overhauls by Qantas at Archerfield Aerodrome, Brisbane before being delivered to Perth on 18 October and 24 September 1944 repectively in Perth.  They were based at the newly-built Guildford Aerodrome (now Perth Airport), using the Australian National Airways hangar just built for their DC-3 services from the Eastern States. The Liberators which refuelled at Exmouth WA to reduce the ocean crossing, brought an increased payload of 3,800 lbs which allowed 8 passengers in airline seats, plus baggage and the essential diplomatic and priority mail. Two more BOAC Liberators joined Qantas for the Indian Ocean service, G-AGTI and G-AGTJ, allowing the Catalinas to be retired. The final Catalina service landed on the Swan River at Perth on 18 July 1945, marking a total of 271 Qantas Catalina services across the Indian Ocean.
                 When Avro Lancastrians became available during 1945, the Liberators were retired and flown to Sydney. The original two were scrapped, but G-AGTI and G-ATGJ remained with Qantas as freighters VH-EAI and VH-EAJ, mostly used to carry engines to Qantas airliners across the growing postwar route network.

Qantas Liberator G-AGKT at Guildford Aerodrome, Perth in late 1944. The ANA hangar had just been built
and was still at Perth Airport used by Ansett Air Freight until the 1990s.                                  Photo: Qantas

                   Qantas founder and Managing Director Hudson Fysh later wrote: "Once again I tried to get official recognition for the Catalina captains and crews and once again my representations were turned down. However Captains Crowther, Tapp and Ambrose were jointly awarded the Johnston Memorial Trophy "for outstanding achievements in air navigation"

Disposal of the Double Sunrise Catalinas

                 When the Catalinas were retired in July 1945, four were pulled up on to land on beaching-gear at Nedlands Marine Base, Perth, while G-AGKS had been ferried Nedlands to Rose Bay, Sydney on 25 March 1945 for overhaul.  Because they had been originally supplied to RAF under Lend Lease, their disposal was placed in the hands of RAF No.300 Wing Transport Command in Sydney which operated Dakota and Liberator transports. They could have been simply broken-up for scrap, but the RAF authorities instead ruled that they should be towed out to sea and scuttled, which was carried out for G-AGKS in deep water off Sydney Heads.  However the Fremantle traffic bridge blocked the Perth Catalinas from being towed along the Swan River to the sea. Seemingly oblivious to the cost, RAF 300 Wing command instructed that the four Perth Catalinas should be taken out of storage and made airworthy to make one last flight to land out at sea beyond Rottnest Island.
                 RAAF assistance was sought to provide current Catalina crews, and on 6 January 1946 RAAF Catalina pilots Flt Lt Ted Hodgson and Flt Lt Ted Withell and Catalina fitters Sgt Arthur Jones and Sgt John Williams departed RAAF Rathmines by Catalina to Rose Bay, then miltary transport aircraft to Perth.  At Nedlands each aircraft was inspected and repairs made, especially extensive hull corrosion which had been unchecked since their retirement. Each was returned to the water for a test flight, before flying out to land on the sea at various locations between 13-18 miles west of Rottnest Island.
                A RAAF crash boat was sent to Rottnest Island for each Catalina and marked the location for landing depending on sea state.  The men on board were transferred to the crash boat in its dinghy, which was then rowed back to the aircraft by a Navy demolition expert, carrying two explosive charges brought from Perth on board the crash launch. He placed them in the bow and blister compartments, timed for the blister charge to detonate first to break the aircraft in two, followed by the other charge to destroy the forward section, to ensure debris would not be left floating as a shipping hazard.
               First to depart Nedlands was Antares Star which was given a 2 hour test flight on 16.1.46 and next morning flown out to a sea landing area marked by the the RAAF crash boat. The 4 RAAF crew were accompanied by a Royal Australian Navy demolition expert, and unexpectedly, a RAF Flying Officer, who had been sent by 300 Wing to witness the sinking and ensure that nothing was removed from the aircraft that might break the Lend Lease disposal agreement. Significant maintenance was needed on the remaining Perth Catalinas, but the four RAAF crew were ordered to stay until it was completed. The final aircraft made serviceable was G-AGFM which was test flownFlt Lt Withwell developed malaria and was replaced by Flt Ltd Bill Swan.
The sinking did not always go to plan. The bow charge on Rigel Star did not detonate, leaving the wrecked forward section floating. After 200 rounds from 303 rifles on the crash boat, it began burning and later sank.  The detonations on Altair Star caused a wing float to detach and float away. The two RAAF fitters were despatched in the dinghy, armed with a tomahawk from the crash boat's equipment locker, to hack at the float until it filled with water and sank.  The RAAF contingent returned to Rathmines, by RAF Liberator transport from Perth to Sydney in a 9 hours direct flight, then to Rathmines on Catalina A24-10 which was sent to collect them.

The Catalinas were scuttled in the following order:
G-AGIE test flown 16.1.46, scuttled 17.1.46
G-AGID test flown 29.1.46, scuttled 30.1.46
G-AGFL test flown 13.2.46, scuttled 14.2.46
G-AGFM test flown 24.2.46, scuttled 27.2.46
G-AGKS scuttled off Sydney 3.46


         By the end of World War II, the Royal Australian Air Force had received a total of 168 Catalinas of various models. Soon after the end of war,  RAAF retired all but a small number of Catalinas which were maintained operational for SAR duties and special missions. The remaining Catalinas were stored at either No.1 Flying Boat Repair Depot at Lake Boga Victoria, or No.2 FBRD at Rathmines NSW awaiting disposal. Some were parked on land, the flying boat models mounted on beaching gear, while others were left on the water, riding at anchor. An indication of their exposure to the elements was over 20 Catalinas at Rathmines seriously damaged by hailstones in a storm on Anzac Day 1946, causing dented metal work, shattered perspex and torn fabric control surfaces.  The maintenance staff not yet demobbed were put to work on repairs.
         In October 1946 the Commonwealth Disposals Commission held the first of a series of sales of retired RAAF Catalinas. This first sale invited tenders for a total of 60 Catalinas located at Lake Boga and Rathmines. Aircraft in the best condition, some flying only months before being offered for sale, were sold for 1,000 each, with lower prices for those in poor condition or with high hours since engine overhauls. The CDC tender forms included a declaration that the Department of Civil Aviation would accept the Catalina for civil use.  A variety of buyers bid for the Catalinas, at first those with plans to fly them as civil aircraft. Many others were acquired by airlines or parts dealers to remove the P&W R-1830 Twin Wasp engines, instruments, fuel tanks and other parts to be held as DC-3 spares stock.
         Newspaper advertisements for the final CDC sales for a total of 34 RAAF Catalinas were published 6 September 1947.  These remaining aircraft were described as "in fair to poor condition, offered as-is, where they lay." Also offered were 40 beaching-gear chassies for use with Catalinas.

RAAF Rathmines NSW in 1945 with retired RAAF Catalinas anchored on Lake Macquarie, awaiting disposal.
Photo: Australian War Museum
Qantas Empire Airways
         Qantas operated the largest number of Australian civil Catalinas.  Qantas' flying boat operations were based at Rose Bay flying boat base on Sydney Harbour, which had been the terminus for the pre-war Empire flying boat services to Singapore and Great Britain. After the war, Qantas was keen to create new routes to Pacific island nations and ex RAAF Catalinas were perfect for the task. Qantas Catalinas flew services to Lord Howe Island, New Caledonia, Fiji, Port Vila and Espiritu Santo.  The inital engineering conversion of RAAF Catalinas to civil airliners at Rose Bay were extensive, using sumptuous passenger seats salvaged from scrapped Qantas Short C Class Empire flying boats to create a 15 passenger configuration.  Qantas Catalinas on these Pacific islands services from Rose Bay were replaced by Short Sandringhams from April 1951.
         In early 1949 when the RAAF decided its Catalina SAR detachment at Port Moresby would be withdrawn, New Guinea authorities urged Qantas to base Catalinas in New Guinea: VH-EBC was ferried from Sydney to Port Moresby in May that year, followed by VH-EBD and VH-EBU. Their interiors were much more spartan, based on inward facing side-saddle bench seating with tie-down points in the centre of the cabin floor for freight.  Passengers are reporterd to have often helped hold the cargo down in turbulence. This pair were based at Port Moresby until 1958 flying coastal routes, the West Coast Service to Daru and beyond, and the East Coast Service to Milne Bay and beyond.  An addition route was Port Moresby north to Rabaul and numerous stops at plantations and settlements along the New Britain and Bougainville island chains. Air-dropping of supplies to remote outposts was a common practice from the Catalinas.
          The long ferry flights to and from Sydney for annual CofA renewal overhauls at Rose Bay was eliminated in 1954 when Qantas built a slipway at Lae Airport on the shore of Huon Gulf. The improved company maintenance facilities at Lae allowed QEA to overhaul KLM DC-3s based at Biak, Dutch New Guinea. The final New Guinea Catalina revenue flight was 24 July 1958 under the command of Captain Ken Montague. The two Catalinas were retired, replaced by Qantas floatplane Beavers and Otters.  During 9 years of New Guinea service they had carried a total of 54,259 passengers and logged 12,427 flying hours. 
          Maintenance costs for the QEA Catalinas were always high, because of the endless battle against hull corrosion caused by salt water immersion. Qantas Engineering purchased a number of spare Catalinas which were stored for future use: see Part 5 below.
These civilianised RAAF disposals Catalinas are listed in the order of their civil registration:

                            PB2B-2              c/n 61193                           Beachcomber                                                    VH-BRA
Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44287

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease as Catalina Mk.IV JZ834: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-369
Ferried across Pacific from USA to Australia after acceptance flights by RAAF
Received 1FBRD Lake Boga ex USA. RAAF Status Card quotes ex JZ834.
Taken on RAAF charge as PB2B-2R A24-369

Issued to 42 Sqn, 43 Sqn, received 2FBRD Rathmines 19.2.46 for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Poulson & Middlemiss, Sydney NSW

Ferried Rathmines to Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney where it was modified with passenger seating and given an overhaul for issue of a civil Certificate of Airworthiness.
Registration application: Barrier Reef Airways, Brisbane Qld
Application quoted ids JZ834, A24-369
Registered VH-BRA

CofA issued, configured for seating for 22 passengers in 4 cabins

Barrier Reef Airways operated from the wartime Colmslie flying boat base on the Brisbane River at Hamilton Reach, on the opposite side of the river from the Qantas Empire Airways Hamilton flying boat terminal. Colmslie had been built during WWII by the US Navy for the Naval Air Transport Service which operated courier services between Hawaii and Australia with Coronado and Mariner flying boats carrying personnel and military supplies. 

Barrier Reef Airways flew passenger services from Brisbane to holiday islands on Great Barrier Reef. Inaugural airline service to Heron Island flown 12.7.47 by Cpt Middlemiss, followed by opening serivers from Brisbane to Daydream Island 8.12.47 and Lindeman Island 28.3.48.
Short Sandringhams were introduced in 1950.
Departed Brisbane on a charter for Mr. Reginald M. Ansett, founder of Ansett Airways in Melbourne, to inspect potential holiday resorts along Great Barrier Reef. Landed atRockhampton, Mackay, Lindeman Island, Hayman Island, Bowen, Townsville then return to Brisbane.
VH-BRA flew Barrier Reef Airways' first scheduled service, Brisbane-Gladstone-Heron Island. Captain S. Middlemiss, F/O F.Kelly
VH-BRA operated the naugural airline service to Daydream Island
Company renamed Barrier Reef Airways Pty Ltd, when Ansett Transport Industries purchased 51% holding. Middlemiss needed the funding to purchase Short Sandringhams to replace the Catalinas
Retired, replaced by Short Sandringhams. VH-BRA moored engineless on Brisbane River at Hamilton Reach
Barrier Reef Airways taken over by Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty Ltd
VH-BRA retired, now parked at BRAW slipway on Brisbane River
Struck-off Register

Broken up for scrap at Colmslie, Brisbane Qld

VH-BRA on beaching gear surrounded by other Catalinas at the Barrier Reef Airways base on the Brisbane River.
Photo: Dave Eyre collection

    Hayman Island Qld October 1950.                   Photo by Charles D. Pratt courtesy Kevin O'Reilly collection

                          PB2B-2                   c/n 61185             Island Chieftan                                                VH-ALN, VH-EBC

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44279

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease as Catalina Mk.VI JX661: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-350
Received 2FBRD, Rathmines ex USA ex JX661
Taken on RAAF charge as PB2B-2 A24-350

Issued to 3OTU, later Air Sea Rescue Squadron.
Issued to 2FBRD Rathmines 16.9.46 for storage
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Captain P.G.Taylor, Hunter Street, Sydney NSW

A syndicate headed by Captain P. G. Taylor was formed in 1946 to fly scheduled airline services between Sydney and Lord Howe Island, with experienced flying boat pilot ex RAAF Group Captain Hugh M. Birch DFC as Chief Pilot.
Captain Taylor and Hugh Birch flew A24-350 on a survey flight Sydney-Lord Howe Island. On return, it was flown to Cooks River on boundary of Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney where it was beached and work commenced on its civil conversion.

When Taylor learnt that DCA were delaying issue of new airline licences, Marinair was dissolved and its Catalinas sold. A24-350 sold to W.R. Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney
Registration application: W.R. Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW.
To be based Madang NG
Application quoted ids "361185" and JX661
Registered VH-ALN
First test flight after civil conversion

QEA memo signed Hugh Birch: "On 15 May 1947 I was Captain of Catalina VH-ALN on a flight from Cooks River adjcent to Mascot, to Rose Bay. This was the first flight of VH-ALN as a civil aircraft, VH-ALN was purchased from an organisation known as Marinair by W.R.Carpenter. W.R.Carpenter then formed a subsidiary company called Island Airways to operate VH-ALN  in New Guinea based at Madang. I was Chief Pilot and only pilot of Island Airways."
Ownership transferred to Island Airways Ltd, Madang, New Guinea.
Named Island Chieftan
Island Airways was established as a subsidiary company of Mandated Airlines, itself a subsidiary of W.R. Carpenter & Co, Sydney. When it commenced in 5.47 its sole pilot/navigator was Captain Hugh Birch, an experienced former RAAF flying boat pilot who had previously been employed by P.G.Taylor for Marinair.
For takeoffs and landings he had company engineers Tom Mitchell or Ken Smith in the right hand seat. After some months, Birch was sent a copilot John Rowe.
VH-ALN departed Cooks River at Sydney Airport on delivery, arrived Madang 22.5.47, Captain Birch

Hugh Birch later wrote: "Island Chieftan was a most remarkable and reliable aircraft. Most of our work was transporting native labourers from all parts of Papua New Guinea to plantations in New Britain, New Ireland and Bougainville. We carried 50 or 60 at a time."
Landed on Kikori River near Port Moresby and loaded storepedos of supplies which were dropped from 100 feet to oil search geologists in Samberigi Valley
VH-ALN was flown by Birch to Sydney for overhaul, returned to Madang 12.47
Flew from Kikori River again for a week, dropping supplies to a geological party in remote areas of the Strickland River. Repeated in March for a week.  
Hugh Birch wrote: "In April we did a supply drop in the Porgera River country, to the Leahy brothers and the Stickland Syndicate party. Quite exciting - we had to climb very high to get into this vast valley. That same month we dropped suppies to Ivan Champion's camp on the shore of Lake Iviva at an elevation of 8,500 feet above sea level."
Island Airways ceased operations when DCA ruled that all passengers required seating with seat belts. 

This followed the crash of Guinea Air Traders Lockheed Hudson VH-ALA at Lae on 18.4.48 in which 35 natives were killed. Until then, New Guinea aviation operators had loaded native labourer groups by weight.
VH-ALN returned to Rose Bay, Sydney. Parked at Rose Bay with the undelivered Catalina VH-BDQ Island Warrior, which was to be Island Airways' second aircraft
Certificate of Registration expired.
Qantas purchased the Island Airways civil converted Catalinas VH-ALN & VH-BDQ
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas from Carpenters Airlines (sic)
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
Registered VH-EBC. Retained name Island Chieftan
Ferried Sydney-Port Moresby by QEA Captain Hugh Birch, who was tasked to establish a new Port Moresby base for QEA Catalina services
Captain Birch with QEA Senior Captain Orm Denny commenced route survey flights in VH-EBA to New Guinea ports, along the west coast and east coast from Port Moresby
First scheduled Qantas West Coast Service: from Port Moresby to Yule Island, Kerema, Kikori, Lake Murray, Daru and return. Captain Hugh Birch with First Officer Ross Threadgold.  Then flown weekly.
Inaugural East Coast Service: Port Moresby to Abau, Milne Bay, Sa,arai, Esa'ala Losiua, Trobriand Islands, Kitava Island, DeBoyne Lagoon Samarai and return. Then flown weekly.
VH-EBC maintained QEA New Guinea flotplane services while VH-EBD was temporarily in Sydney for overhaul and VH-EBU had been retired and departed Port Moresby for Sydney 18.8.52
two medical emergency flights in West Papua, Captain Phil Oakley
Departed Port Moresby for Sydney for overhaul, replaced by VH-EBD back from overhaul in Sydney
Airframe logbook: withdrawn from service
Airframe logbook: ferry Port Moresby to Lae
Towed from seaplane ramp to Lae Aerodrome, where it would be scrapped
Qantas Management Memorandum D952 authorised VH-EBC and VH-EBD to be broken up and scrapped
Broken-up for scrap at Lae

VH-EBC airframe Log Book: "Broken up and scrapped under authority of Management of QEA Ltd, reference  memorandum D952 dated 11 November 1958"
Struck-off Register

VH-EBC "Island Chieftan" in New Guinea.                              Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society

Photograph from a native canoe as passengers disembark from VH-EBC in New Guinea in 1949.
Captain Hugh Birch standing.                             Photo: Qantas via Greg Banfield collection

VH-EBC at the Port Moresby seaplane base circa 1957, in a later Qantas colour scheme, without a name.
Photo: Qantas via Allan Bovelt collection

                            PBY-5                c/n 292                                                                                           VH-BDP, RI-005

Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corp at San Diego, California
Royal Canadian Air Force as Canso RCAF 9711: not delivered

Transferred to RAF as Catalina Mk.IIa VA711: not delivered

Transferred to RAAF as A24-26
Arrived Rathmines on delivery via Suva and Noumea.
Taken on RAAF charge as A24-26 "ex 9711"

Issued to 11 Sqn, 3OTU, retired at Lake Boga
Sold through CDC to W. R.Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
Registration application: J. Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne Vic.
Letterhead: Shipbuilders and boat repairs
Application quoted ids 292, 9711 and A24-26
Registered VH-BDP
John Fraser, ex RAAF pilot, commenced operations to Tasmania to carry freshly caught seafood from fishing trawlers at Port Davey, Tasmania. to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney
VH-BDP arrived at RAAF Lake Boga, probably to collect spare parts. Departed two days later.
Change of ownership: Ralph Richard Cobley, trading as Richard Conway Aviation,
c/- Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne Vic
VH-BDP departed Australia via Darwin NT

Australian Ralph Cobley was a mercenary pilot flying for the Indonesian Independence movement in the Netherlands East Indies.
Newspaper reports that the Dutch Government accused the Indonesian Minister for Finance of using an Australian Catalina with 3 Australian crew to smuggle 17 tons of opium from the NEI to Malaya.  The cash generated by the drug sale was being used to build the new republic's foreign currency.
DCA assured the press that no Australian civil aircraft were operating in the area.
However among the aircraft of the embryo Indonesian Republic Air Force operating  clandestine missions against the Dutch military forces in NEI were several DC-3s and the following from Australia:
RI-001  Anson VH-BBY
RI-003  Stinson L-5 owned by Ralph Cobley
RI-004  Anson VH-AGX
RI-005  Catalina VH-BDP Ralph Cobley
RI-008  DH.86 G-ADYH ex Intercontinental Air Tours, Sydney
Crashed and sank during a river takeoff near Djambi, Sumatra NEI

VH-BDP had been moored on a river near Djambi, Sumatra for several days having maintenance carried out on an engine, Dutch troops closed in on the aircraft and commenced firing.  Ralph Cobley attempted a takeoff on just one engine, but swung and struck a partly submerged boat. Aircraft broke up and sank, all on board killed.

News of this event did not reach DCA in Australia. The next entry in their file for VH-BDP is a memo dated 21.4.49: "Information received that this aircraft crashed at Singapore."
Struck-off Australian Register

In 1995 the wreck of VH-BDP was rediscovered on the bottom of the river near Jambi. The Indonesian Air Force Museum at Jogjakarta announced that if enough airframe was salvaged, it would rebuild the wreck as a memorial to Indonesian independence 
During 1996 a wooden fuselage framework was constructed for parts to be attached, but in the event a full-size replica was built with little or no original parts from VH-BDP

Catalina replica displayed at Museum Perjuangan Rakyat Jambi, Jambi
Displayed painted as "VH-BDP" and "RI-005"

                          Magazine picture of VH-BDP at Port Davey, Tasmania in 1947 while carrying fish.  The aircraft was painted
in a dark colour, with large registration letters in white on the rear fuselage.

Poor quality but rare view of VH-BDP in late 1948, while flying clandestine missions in support of
Indonesian independence fighters fighting Dutch
military forces in the Netherlands East Indies.

This picture in Indonesian aviation magazine "Angkasa" shows the VH-BDP replica under construction in 1996

                           PBY-5                 c/n 270                                                                                                       (VH-BEF)
Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corp at San Diego CA

Completed as a Model 28-5MA to Australian order. Equivalent to PBY-5

Allocated to RAAF as A24-10
The US Deparment of State neutrality rules required that the RAAF Catalinas be flown to the last refuelling point at the limit of US territory by the manufacturer's civilian pilots, there handed over to an Australian civilian crew for the rest of the Pacific crossing.
Qantas Empire Airways delivered the first 18 RAAF Catalinas from Honolulu to Sydney under this arrangement during 1941. USA entered the war on 5.12.41 after Pearl Harbor.

Delivery flight Qantas Trip K, assigned civil registration VH-AFK by DCA to mask the military nature of the QEA delivery. No Certificate of Registration issued.
Arrived Rose Bay Flying Boat base, Sydney Harbour.
Taken on RAAF charge as A24-10. Allotted to Rathmines ex Rose Bay

Issued to 11 Sqn, 20 Sqn, 3OTU. Received CMU Lake Boga 9.4.46 for storage
Sold through CDC for 615 to J. W. Fraser c/- Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne

CDC advise the sale has been cancelled
Sold through CDC for 400 to J. Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne
Registration application: Ralph Richard Cobley, trading as Richard Conway Aviation,
c/- Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne Vic

Application quoted ids 270 and A24-10
DCA allocate registration VH-BEF.  Never taken up, no Certificate of Registration
Letter to DCA from solicitors, Melbourne: "Catalina aircraft VH-BEF now at Lake Boga was acquired some time ago by R.R.Cobley from Messrs Botterill and Fraser. It has now been disposed of by Cobley to Major Eric Chrichton Daniels, Mitre Hontel, Singapore
RAAF Status Card A24-10: Issued to purchaser ex CMU Lake Boga
Letter to DCA from A. E. Taylor, Air Base, Lake Boga:  "I am at present wrecking a number of Catalina aircraft on behalf of a Sydney firm." He requests be advised of the ownership of VH-BEF and A24-2, because he wishes to acquire them for parts.
Letter to DCA from A.E.Taylor: advises that he now owns A24-2 and VH-BEF, both of which he acquired from Major Daniels. They are still at Lake Boga and will be broken up
Broken up at Lake Boga

                          PB2B-2                   c/n 61167                     Island Warrior                                (VH-BDQ), VH-EBU

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44261

to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX643

Transferred direct to Australia, to RAAF A24-361
Taken on RAAF charge. received 1FBRD Lake Boga ex USA

Issued to 43 Sqn. Received 2FBRD Store Rathmines 27.2.46 for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Mr. Bridgewater, Sydney NSW
Issued to purchaser

Acquired by W. R. Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
DCA allocated registration VH-BDQ.  Never taken up, no Certificate of Registration

Civil conversion at Sydney, to be the second aircraft for Island Airways, Madang
Name Island Warrior was painted on the aircraft.  While being prepared for delivery to New Guinea, Island Airways ceased operations in May 1948: see VH-ALN
VH-ALN and VH-BDQ were parked at Rose Bay
Qantas purchased the Island Airways civil converted Catalinas VH-ALN & VH-BDQ
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas from Carpenters Airlines (sic)
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney
QEA request registration VH-EBU. To be based in New Guinea
Application quoted ids 44261, JX643 also JX634, A24-361

Civil overhaul and modification for passenger use by QEA at Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour
Cable from DCA Sydney office: "VH-EBU airworthy as of today"
Registered VH-EBU
CofA issued
Based at Port Moresby with Qantas New Guinea Internal division
Rescued the 3 survivors of DHA-3 Drover VH-DHA which ditched in the sea between Wewak and Manus Island the previous day. The Drover pilot Clarrie Hibbert was seriously injured from a prop blade detaching and cutting through the side of the cockpit.
Their dinghy had been located overnight by QEA DC-3 VH-EAL (Captain Ian Ralfe) and a RAAF crash launch guided to them by dropping flame floats.

VH-EBU (Captain Fred Fox and First Officer Ken Montague) departed Port Moresby harbour before dawn, climbed to 14,000 feet altitude to cross the Owen Stanley Mountains and landed in the sea off the Purdy Islands, where the 3 men was transferred from a RAAF crash launch and flown to hospital in Port Moresby
Departed Port Moresby for Sydney for retirement, fown by Captain Fred Fox
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Broken-up for scrap at Rose Bay NSW

Qantas Catalina VH-EBU coming up to the mooring buoy at Rabaul harbour, New Britain circa 1950.
Photo: National Library of Australia

VH-EBU at Rose Bay in February 1953 in retirement, registration painted over.      Photo: Don MacKay via Ed Coates

                         PB2B-2                   c/n 61197                   The Buccaneer                                                        VH-BRB

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44291

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JZ838

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-364
Taken on RAAF charge as PB2B-2R A24-364. Received 1FBRD Lake Boga ex USA

Issued to 42 Sqn, 111 ASRF. Received 2FBRD Storage Rathmines 5.3.46 for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Poulson & Midelemiss, Sydney NSW
Issued to purchaser
Ferried Rathmines to Barrier Reef Airways base at Colmslie on the Brisbane River, where it was stored on land with other RAAF disposals Catalinas purchased by the company.Remained in storage until work commenced on its civil conversion, completed mid 1949.
Registration application: Barrier Reef Airways, Brisbane Qld
Application quoted ids JZ838, A24-364
Registered VH-BRB
CofA issued, configured with seating for 22 passengers in 4 cabins
Commenced service with Barrier Reef Airways. Named The Buccaneer

Flew passenger services from Brisbane River to holiday islands on Great Barrier Reef
Damaged when drifted into and struck a tourist launch at Daydream Island Qld.
Captain Stewart Middlemiss was having trouble starting the starboard engine at the time. The impact with the boat damaged the port engine installation and the Catalina drifted for some distance.
Subsequently the Catalina was towed to Bowen where it was pulled up the wartime flying boat base slpway on to land for repairs. It was then ferried to Brisbane.
Company renamed Barrier Reef Airways Pty Ltd, when Ansett Transport Industries purechased 51% holding. Middlemiss needed the funding to purchase Short Sandringhams to replace the Catalina
Retired, broken-up for scrap
Barrier Reef Airways taken over by Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty Ltd
Flew to Southport Qld for landing trials
Operated the first service on a new route Brisbane-Southport-Grafton-Sydney
Departed Brisbane on AFBS first "South Pacific Air Cruise"to Noumea, Suva, Apia, Cook islands to Tahiti. Tour returned to Brisbane 10.3.53
Retired on return from South Pacific cruise, reportedly due mechanical problems
VH-BRB has been retired, parked at BRAW slipway at Colmslie, Brisbane River
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Broken-up for scrap at Colmslie, Brisbane River

                       VH-BRB departing Rose Bay, Sydney 24 Octoner 1949 with a Trans Oceanic Airways Sunderland at the right.                    
Whites Aviation (NZ) photograph

                         PB2B-2                   c/n 61159                                                                                         VH-EAW

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44253

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX635

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as  A24-378
Taken on RAAF charge as A24-378. Received 1FBRD Lake Boga 7.7.45 ex USA

Issued 113ASRF. Received 2FBRD Store ex 113ASR 6.1.46 for storage
RAAF Status Card: Issued to Qantas Empire Airways on temporary loan at no charge, approval granted by Minister
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
Application quoted ids 44253, JX635
Registered VH-EAW
Operated the first Qantas survey flight from Sydney to Lord Howe Island
Departed Rose Bay on survey flight to New Caledonia, under command Captain Len Grey, with Senior Navigation Officer Jim Cowan. Surveyed landing sites for new flying boat routes to Noumea, Port Vila and Santo. Returned to Sydney 4.5.48.
DCA Memo: this Catalina was taken over from RAAF by QEA in full camouflage. After civil conversion it was used by QEA on regular services from Sydney to Lord Howe Island, Noumea, New Caledonia and Suva, Fiji and is still on these services.
Airframe logbook: last flight Noumea to Rose Bay
Destroyed by bomb at moorings Rose bay, Sydney.
An explosive charge with timer was placed on board at night by persons unknown.  The aircraft was badly damaged an sank. It was salvaged, but damaged beyond repair.

Captain Bryan Monkton, founder of Trans Oceanic Airways, Sydney was charged by police over the sabotage. TOA and QEA were bitter competitors at the time.  At trial he was aquitted but the stigma stayed with him. Nobody else was ever charged.
In his book "Boats I Flew", Monkton says the perpetrator was a digruntled former TOA employee he had dismissed, who knew Monkton would be the prime suspect.

VH-EAW at Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney                                       State Library of NSW

Sabotage. The mangled wreck of VH-EAW being lifted from the water at Rose Bay in August 1949. 
Photo: The Collection p1177-0120

                           PBY-5A (M)             c/n 1659                                                                                      VH-BDY

Built by Consolidated Aircraft Corporation at San Diego CA 

US Navy order as PBY-5A Bu48297

Transferred to Australia for RAAF as A24-75
Taken on charge by RAAF as A24-75. Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex USA

Amphibian PBY-5A models delivered to RAAF had their undercarriage mechanism removed on arrival to reduce weight. The modification included using the port wheel well for the APU and starboard wheel well as the food locker, was carried out by the FBRDs prior to issue to operational units. As flying boats, they were designated PBY-5A(M)

Issued to 11 Sqn. Received 2FBRD 23.7.45 for fuel tank repairs, tfd to Storage 19.3.46
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Mr. Kennedy, Sydney NSW
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper classified advertisement:
"Pilots, engineers ex RAAF required for aerial company operating to the Far East, on a shareholding-working basis. Apply Oswald Keith Kennedy, Sydney ex Australian Army"
At least 4 ex RAAF men answered the advertisement, invested sums of money and went to Rathmines to work on a Catalina which Kennedy told them he had "an option" to purchase.
RAAF Status Card A24-75: Issued to purchaser
Clarence Hart Campbell, Sydney joined the group by investing a much higher amount making himself the largest shareholder. Campbell was active in politics, a Communist, owner of Marx House in George Street, Sydney, HQ of the Australian Communist Party.
A24-75 ferried from Rathmines to Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney Harbour
DCA Memo:  Catalina VH-BDY is having an overhaul at Rose Bay for owners Asian Airlines. It is parked on a slipway in the open weather, no workshop, no facilities. Work being carried out by licenced ground engineer J. E. Wood
Sydney Morning Herald newspaper advertisement:
"Catalina, current CofA, just converted to freighter. Top overhaul completed. World-wide range and radio.18 hour cruise range. All equipment. Will delivery anywhere.
C.H.Campbell, Sydney phone number.
Same advertisement was repeated several times into 11.47, despite BDY not yet being completed or issued with a CofA
Registered VH-BDY Asian Airlines Pty Ltd, Sydney
Letter to DCA from Asian Airways Manager Mr. C .H. Campbell:.
Asian Airlines letterhead "Freight and passenger service to and from Anywhere"
Complained about engineer J. E. Wood who had not completed the CofA overhaul of their VH-BDY. Wood had been employed by Butler Air Transport but from June 1947 worked on VH-BDY for Asian Airways in evenings and weekends. Shortly after, he left Butler and worked full-time on VH-BDY. He estimated it would be ready by 8.47 but after 4 weeks with 4 assistants work was slow and Wood abused Asian Airlines personnel. By 10.47 Woods was at Lake Boga working for Barrier Reef Airways, preparing Catalinas they wanted to ferry from Lake Boga to Brisbane. At the same time at Lake Boga he worked for the Sydney Morning Herald to dismantle a Catalina they had purchased and he had arranged with Butler Air Transport to remove and send to them engines and parts from several Catalinas he had purchased himself. 
Campbell dismissed Wood on 28.12.47 but a replacement engineer had to repeat much of the work at an extra cost, and VH-BDY is still far from ready.

DCA suspended Wood's engineering licence to investigate the quality of his work on VH-BDY at Rose Bay. Wood claimed that Campbell employed him under the name Singapore Air Traders, but soon after threatened him unless he signed out the Catalina as airworthy before it was ready. His work was slow because of lack of payments from Campbell.
CofA issued.  Aircraft will be based at Singapore.
VH-BDY flew Rose Bay to Lake Boga. Fred Wong, Asian Airlines director was a passenger. On 23.7.48 Wong drowned at Lake Boga when a dinghy capsized while he was helping fit beaching gear to a company Catalina.
VH-BDY returned Lake Boga to Rose Bay, carrying Fred Wong's body. On arrival, his body was moved to the hearse through a guard of honour of 150 Chinese citizens
Asian Airlines advise DCA that VH-BDY is scheduled to leave Australia on 28.7.48
Campbell spent several weeks in Singapore while making an application for an Airline Licence for Asian Airlines Pty Ltd to carry freight to Singapore and Malaya.
The applicatrion was refused by the Malayan DCA, with no reasons given.
Letter to DCA from Asian Airlines Manager C. H. Campbell:
On 20.9.48 Messrs M.Burgess, B.Falke and G.Pattinson arranged with our company to charter one of our aircraft VH-BDY to enter a Tasman airfreight service. We have cancelled arrangements with these people and we are now entering into an arrangement to charter our aircraft to Mr. H. J. Morony, Sydney whose business name is Australian Air Traders.
CofA expired,  Asian Airlines advise that the aircraft is at Lake Boga but is due to be flown to Sydney shortly to be sold
Photos show VH-BDY at Lake Boga, allover metallic finish, complete. Parked on a ramp on beaching gear, canvas cover over cockpit asnd nose turret, surrounded by dismantled Catalinas
DCA memo: Has been reduced to scrap at Lake Boga
Struck-off Register

Asian Airlines Pty Ltd was incorporated 9.1.48 with C.H.Campbell appointed Managing Director for five years. On 15.1.48 an agreement was made between the company and Frederick Kenneth Wong, Louis Wong and William Jangsing Lee, all of Sydney, to finance the purchase of 9 Catalinas for Asian Airlines.
Campbell had been activily campaigning against the Dutch rule in Indonesia, and Frederick Wong was a Communist activist committed to Indonesian independence and had made a movie on the topic.
The first Asian Airlines Operations Manager learnt that Campbell had organised to have Lake Bota, near Batavia (now Jakarta) prepared to handle his Catalinas flying in arms and supplies, including a large consignment of Australian military disposals radio and radar gear, for the Indonesian Independence rebels.
By the end of 1949 Asian Airlines ceased to exist.

VH-BDY on beaching gear at Lake Boga in 1951, waiting to be scrapped.        Photo: Nigel Daw collection

                          PB2B-2               c/n 61186                                                                                          VH-EAX

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44280

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX662: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-372
Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex USA

Issued to 20 Sqn. Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex 20 Sqn for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Issued to Qantas Empire Airways on temporary loan at no charge, approval granted by Minister
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas ex RAAF
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney
To be used on Qantas services from Sydney to Pacific islands
Application quoted ids 44280, JX662
Registered VH-EAX
Weighed at Rose Bay at completion of  CofA overhaul
CofA issued.
Airframe log book: last flight Sydney-Lord Howe island, 3 hrs 6 mins
Wrecked at Lord Howe Island when blown on to rocks by a storm.
Broke adrift from moorings at 7.15pm local time during high winds and drifted on to rocks at the shore line. Captain L. W. Clarke and crew were ashore at the time.

Stripped of engines and parts, towed out to sea and scuttled

Lord Howe Island June 1949, after VH-EAX was blown ashore on to rocks by a storm.         Photo: Qantas

                          PB2B-2                 c/n 61134                       Island Explorer                                               VH-EBA

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44228

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX618: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-303
Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex USA

Issued to 20 Sqn, 3OTU: Received 2FBRD Rathmines 27.2.46 for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
A24-303 & -305 sold through CDC for 1,000 to Mr. R. P. Carr, Ingham Qld
Not collected by purchaser. Sale cancelled by CDC 11.47
Resold through CDC for 185 to Asian Airlines Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
(Airframe logbook quotes sale date 22.2.48)
Collected by purchaser.  No civil conversion
Sold to Engineers Laboratories Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
This company manufactured airline seats and other aircraft cabin fittings for airlines.
Sold to Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW 
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas from Engineers Laboratories
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
Application quoted ids 44228, JX618, A24-303
Registered VH-EBA
Conflicting identities were quoted by QEA for VH-EBA & EBB: correspondence from DCA to Qantas Engineering confuses the matter further. In December 1949 a DCA aircraft inspector was instructed to check the plates inside each aircraft. He reported the plates as: 
VH-EBA A24-305 and 44231
VH-EBB A24-303 and 44228

Accepted PB2B-2 production/identity links are:
c/n 61134 to Bu44228, JX618, A24-303
c/n 61137 to Bu44231, JX621, A24-305

However RAAF Aircraft Record Cards show:
A24-303 identity 44231. with a hand-written "JX618"
A24-305 identity 44228, with a hand-written "JX621"

VH-EBA registration application by QEA quoted: 44228, JX618, A24-303
Qantas Engineering records quote VH-EBA as: A29-303.
VH-EBA airframe logbook quotes:                     Bu44231, JX621 and A29-303.
VH-EBA under command of Captain Hugh Birch made a survey flight from Sydney to Tahiti stopping outbound at Suva and Tonga.
Departed Rose Bay on a Government charter to Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean, commanded by Captain Len Grey. Carried DCA and RAAF airfield construction officers to determine the work required to upgrade the abandoned wartime airfield for use by Qantas Super Constellations on a proposed Australia-South Africa service. A sealed runway was to be constructed plus facilities for refuelling and passenger-handling.

The wartime tunway was considered unserviceable for a landplane. Because no aviation fuel was available at Cocos, the Catalina routed Sydney-Brisbane-Darwin-Djakarta -Cocos-Djakarta-Darwin-Sydney to allow sufficient fuel to be taken on at Djakarta for the flight to Cocos and return.  VH-EBA remained at Cocos 30 May-12 June while the airfield survey was carried out.
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
Broken-up for scrap at Rose Bay

                            PB2B-2                 c/n 61137                                                                                       (VH-EBB)

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44231

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX621: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-305
Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex USA

Issued to 20 Sqn, 3OTU. Received 2FBRD Rathmines 27.2.46 ex 3OTU for storage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Sold through CDC for 1,000 to Mr. R. P. Carr, Ingham Qld.  Sale cancelled by CDC 
Re-sold through CDC for 185 to Asian Airlines Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
Collected by purchaser (date quoted in A24-305 airframe logbook)
Sold to Engineers Laboratories Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
Sold to Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW 
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas from Engineers Laboratories
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
Qantas request VH-EBB
Application quoted ids 44231, JX621, A24-305
identity puzzle
Conflicting identities were quoted by QEA for  VH-EBA & EBB: correspondence from DCA to Qantas Engineering confuses the matter further. In December 1949 a DCA aircraft inspector was instructed to check the plates inside each aircraft. He reported his physical insoection of the plates as: 
VH-EBA A24-305 and 44231
VH-EBB A24-303 and 44228

Accepted PB2B-2 production/identity sequences are:
c/n 61134 to Bu44228, JX618, A24-303
c/n 61137 to Bu44231, JX621, A24-305

However RAAF Aircraft Record Cards show:
A24-303 identity 44231. with a hand-written "JX618"
A24-305 identity 44228, with a hand-written "JX621"

VH-EBB registration application by QEA quoted: 44231, JX621, A24-305
QEA Engineering records quote VH-EBB as A24-305
QEA apply for issue of CofA.  Not issued

VH-EBB Not taken up
Reportedly used for crew training at Rose Bay
Broken up for spare parts at Rose Bay. Then sold as scrap

                          PB2B-2                 c/n 61165                         Island Patrol                                               VH-EBD

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44259

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX641: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF as A24-371
Received 2FBRD Rathmines ex USA

Issued to 42 Sqn, 20 Sqn, 43 Sqn. Received 2FBRD Rathmines 14.2.46 for sttorage
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Selected for Postwar use, to be stored Category C
Issued on loan to Qantas Empire Airways
(In 6.53 QEA paid $700 to Department of Supply for A24-371
QEA Engineering records: Taken over by Qantas from RAAF. airframe time 614 hrs
Registration application: Qantas Empire Airways Ltd, Sydney NSW
Application quoted ids 44259, JX641, A24-371
Registered VH-EBD. Named Island Patrol
CofA issued at Rose Bay
Arrived at Port Moresby from Sydney. To be based in Papua New Guinea operating coastal routes for Qantas New Guinea Internal division
Commenced PNG service. Departed Fairfax Harbour at Port Moresby on first trip to  Abau-Samarai-De Boyne-Nimoa-De Boyne-Samarai-Esa'Ala-Losula-Woodlark- Samarai-Abau-Port Moresby. Captain Fred Fox, flight engineer Tom Mitchell
Flew two medical emergency flights to West Papua, Captain Phil Oakley
Flew two emergency flights: Abau-Samarai then Kieta-Rabaul, Captain Phil Oakley
Air-dropped 5,500 lbs of cargo each day to Tari
CofA renewal overhaul by QEA at Rose Bay, Sydney. VH-EBC maintained the QEA New Guinea servces
Operated the final New Guinea Catalina revenue flight, Bougainville to Port Morersby, Captain Ken Montague.  Airframe log book records "withdrawn from service 24.7.58"
VH-EBD flew last Qantas Catalina flight, ferried from Port Moresby to Lae by
QEA Captain Ken Montague, who had 4,000 hours Catalina flying time.
Landed at 9.16am on the sea adjacent to Lae Airport

Towed up seaplane ramp on to Lae Aerodrome, where it would be scrapped
Qantas Management Memorandum D952 authorised VH-EBC and VH-EBD to be broken up and scrapped
Broken-up for scrap at Lae

VH-EBD airframe Log Book: "Broken up and scrapped under authority of Management of QEA Ltd, reference  memorandum D952 dated 11 November 1958"
Struck-off Register

VH-EBD on its beaching gear at Port Moresby, showing the 4 windows each side for the rear passenger cabin.
Photo: Ed Coates Collection

This battered print shows VH-EBD at a typical New Guinea stop in the 1950s.          Geoff Goodall collection

VH-EBD in final Qantas white and red colour scheme, at the Port Moresby base on Fairfax Harbour c1956.  
This base with a wide slipway was built for RAAF seaplanes during WWII.    Photo: Allan Bovelt collection

                            PB2B-2                 c/n 61154                       Frigate Bird II                                           VH-ASA 

Built by Boeing Aircraft of Canada, Vancouver BC as a PB2B-2 to US Navy order

US Navy as PB2B-2 Bu44248

Allocated to Britain under Lend Lease, to RAF as JX630: not delivered

Diverted direct to Australia, to RAAF A24-385
Received 1FBRD Lake Boga ex USA

Issued to 43 Sqn. Received 2FBRD Rathmines 26.2.46 ex 43 Sqn for storage
Allotted 112ASRF as standby in search for missing Qantas Lancastrian in Indian Ocean, but A24-385 had u/s propeller, replaced by A24-300.
(G-AGLX missing enroute Ceylon to Cocos Island 23.2.46: 5 crew, 5 pax, never found)
Damaged by hailstones in severe storm
Allotted ASR Sqn for use by New Guinea Adminsitration
Received Rathmines Maintenance Squadron ex ASR Sqn
Received 111ASRF ex Rathmines
Allotted RAAF Port Moresby ex 111ASRF due disbandment of 111ASRF
Received Rathmines Maintenance Sqan ex RAAF Poert Moresby. Diverted enroute to Coffs Harbour NSW due oil leak
Allotted RAAF Port Moresby: allotment cancelled, replaced by A24-383
Allotted ASR Sqn ex Maintenance Sqn Rathmines, as replacement for A24-381
Beaching gear collapsed, aircraft fell on to port hull and float. Damage repaired.
No.11 Sqn reformed at Rathmines absorbing ASR Sqn
Issued 11 Sqn Darwin Detachment ex 11 Sqn. Received back at 11 Sqn 23.9.49
Free Issue to Mr. P. G.Taylor, Sydney
Issued to Taylor ex 11 Sqn Rathmines.

Free issue to Captain P. G. "Bill" Taylor approved by the Australian Government, to allow him to operate a Government-financed survey flight to South America and return.
Taylor had lobbied senior politicians on the importance of opening air routes to Chile and Argentina.

Civil CofA overhaul at Sydney
Registration application: Patrick Gordon Taylor, Sydney NSW
Application quoted id. 44248 only
DCA allocate registration VH-AGB. Taylor wrote requesting instead VH-ASA to indicate Australia-South America.  DCA agreed.
Registered VH-ASA.  Named Frigate Bird II
12.3.51 CofA issued. Granted on Experimental Flight basis: Maximum All Up Weight increased to 33,000 lbs to allow extra fuel to be carried. MAUW will reduce to 28,000 lbs when the aircraft returns from South America
Departed Rose Bay on route proving flight to Chile.

This was the first air crossing of the southern Pacific Ocean from Australia to South America. Crew: Captain P.G. Taylor, Captain Harry Purvis, Radio Operator Angus Allison, Flight Engineer H.L. Huillier, Executive Officer/Press representative Jack Percival.
The outbound route was: Sydney-Noumea-Fiji-Tonga-Cook Islands-Tahiti-Mangareva-
Valparaiso, Chile. JATO rockets were used for takeoff in high seas at Christmas Island.

The flight is described in detail in P. G. Taylor's book Frigate Bird. Taylor's choice for copilot, Harry Purvis describes the flight from his perspective in his book Outback Airman
Returned to Rose Bay where Captain Taylor was welcomed by the Prime Minister
R. G. Menzies before a large crowd.
In recognition of this and previous pioneering flights, the Australian Government granted VH-ASA to Captain P.G.Taylor for his personal use
Stored at RAAF Rathmines under an arrangement between Taylor and Rathmines CO
Aircaft inspection report at RAAF Rathmines by DCA surveyor.
Good condition, areas of corrosion need attention, only flying occasionally
Inspected, approved for ferry flight RAAF Rathmines to Rose Bay, Sydney
Correspondence between Taylor and DCA regarding a new CofA for VH-ASA in the Private Category. Aircraft has been stored under cover at RAAF Rathmines for the past 15 months.
P. G. Taylor advises DCA he plans to fly VH-ASA to Honolulu, where it will go on to the US Civil Register because it will operate in US territory for some time.  He will fly it on survey flights betwen Honolulu and Tahiti for a new company South Pacific Airways, Honolulu. SPA are in the process of purchasing the two Solents owned by Trans Oceanic Airways, Sydney which has ceased operations.

Nothing further came of this. South Pacific Airways had been founded by Australian Bryan Monkton ex Trans Oceanic Airlines, Sydney and the US Dollar Shipping Line.  Planned Honolulu-Tahiti service with ex TOA Short Solent flying boats suffered long US certification delays and when ready to commence, at the last moment were refused landing rights at the essential refuelling stop at Christmas Island, because of Pacific Ocean British H Bomb tests in the area.
Struck-off Register
Towed on a barge from Rathmines to Rose Bay, where stored dismantled in the rear of the Ansett Flying Boat Services hangar
Taylor presented the aircraft to NSW Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney
It remained stored dismantled in the hangar at Rose Bay because the museum had no facility to display the Catalina
Moved from Rose Bay to Power House building at Ultimo, Sydney where it was stored dismantled
Loaned to Camden Museum of Aviation, Camden Airport NSW
Wings moved from Ultimo to Camden Airport by road
Fuselage arrived Camden.
The Catalina was assembled for display, fitted with engines acquired from RAAF

When Camden Museum of Aviation was forced to vacate the hangar at Camden Airport, the collection was moved to the nearby town of Narellan where a large display hangar was erected. The Catalina was returned to NSW Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, who moved it to the Power House buildng at Ultimo, Sydney
Stored dismantled at Power House building, Ultimo while museum exhibition space prepared.
Restored for static  display.
VH-ASA unveiled complete, suspended from the rafters, in the renamed Power House Museum, Ultimo, Sydney


VH-ASA at Rose Bay flying boat base, Sydney Harbour.                                  Ben Dannecker collection

Minister for Air T.W.White farewells Captain P.G. Taylor (far left) at Rose Bay 14 March 1951 on his departure
VH-ASA for the survey flight to South America. Taylor's crew, wearing immaculate uniforms for the flight,
Captain Harry Purvis, radio op Angus Allison, flight engineer H.L. Huillier, executive officer Jack Percival.

Taylor gets airborne in VH-ASA at RAAF Rathmines.                      Civil Aviation Historical Society

VH-ASA in storage at RAAF Rathmines in the late 1950s

By 1959 the Catalina was showing signs of exposure at Rathmines.                       Photo by Trevor Fuller

VH-ASA awaiting assembly at the Powerhouse Museum in June 1987.                Photo by Bob Livingstone

Power House Museum, Sydney.                                  Photo by Phil Vabre

Those that did not become civil aircraft

Purchasers of RAAF Catalinas, additional to the civil registered aircraft above:

Captain P. G. Taylor / Marinair, Sydney:
           Formed in 1946 by a syndicate headed by Captain P. G. Taylor, to fly scheduled airline services between Sydney (Rose Bay) and Lord Howe Island, with experienced flying boat pilot ex RAAF Group Captain Hugh M. Birch DFC as Chief Pilot.  Two Catalinas were purchased by syndicate member Mr. A.C.M. Jackaman. The Catalinas were flown to the Cooks River adjacent to Mascot Aerodrome where a rough slipway had been constructed. In very difficult exposed conditions, work began on civil conversions for passenger use.
           However Marinair was unable to commence operations because DCA Head Office policy in the immediate post-war years was to delay and obfiscate applications for airline licence from newly-formed companies, usually founded by wartime pilots. The DCA Director General's intention was that applicants would not have the financial backing to survive lengthy delay and the applications would lapse.  Gordon Taylor wound up Marinair during 1947 when it became clear an airline licence would not be issued, instead negotiating the sale of 4 of the unconverted Catalinas to the Netherlands Navy (MLD) in Netherlands East Indies (Indonesia).
This table shows aircraft acquired by Marinair, the date sold by Commonwealth Disposals Commission and the purchaser's name.
All were PB2B-2 models.


Cpt. P.G.Taylor
survey flight 28.12.46 Sydney-Lord Howe Island return by Birch and Taylor. Then flown to Cooks River on boundary of Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney where it was beached and work commenced on its civil conversion. To VH-ALN, later VH-EBC
Mr. A.Jackaman
Sold by to Netherlands Navy (MLD) in Netherlands East Indies:
to P-208, scuttled off Morokrembangan naval base Java 1952
Cpt. P.G.TaylorFerried to Cooks River, Mascot by Hugh Birch.
Sold by to Netherlands Navy (MLD) in Netherlands East Indies:
to P-207, scuttled off Morokrembangan naval base Java 1952
Mr. A. Jackaman
Sold by to Netherlands Navy (MLD) in Netherlands East Indies:
to P-210, scuttled off Morokrembangan naval base Java 1952
Cpt. P.G.TaylorFerried to Cooks River, Mascot by Hugh Burch.
Sold by to Netherlands Navy (MLD) in Netherlands East Indies:
to P-209, scuttled off Morokrembangan naval base Java 1952

W. R. Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney / Island Airways, Madang, New Guinea
             W.R.Carpenter & Co Ltd had established a wide range of businesses in New Guinea and the Solomon islands from 1920, plantations, trade stores, cold stores, shipping and hotels. W.R. Carpenter began air services in the New Guinea goldfields in 1932 which was renamed Mandated Airlines in 1936.  W.R. Carpenter Airlines was formed in 1938 to operate the first airline service from Australia to New Guinea with DH.86Bs and later Lockheed 14s operating Sydney-Port Moresby-Salamaua-Rabaul route.
             The company lost aircraft and assets during the Pacific Theatre of WWII , but was determined to rebuild in New Guinea after the war. Mandated Airlines was quickly restarted with a large fleet of DH84 Dragons then DC-3s.
             Island Airways was a short-lived flying boat operation on the north coast of New Guinea set up as a WRC subsiiary. Because of operational difficulties encoutered by the first Catalina VH-ALN Island Chieftan, the second Catalina VH-BDQ Island Warrior was not  delivered to New Guinea, but remained in Sydney after civil cionversion.
Lake Boga
WRCarpenter Pty Ltd
Sold by 5.47 to Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne, to VH-BDP
Mr. Bridgewater, Sydney
Civil conversion to VH-BDQ Island Warrior, no CofA, sold to QEA 28.7.49 VH-EBU

Qantas Empire Airways, Sydney 
In addition to the Qantas civil Catalinas in the civil listing above, Qantas purchased another seven PB2B-2 models from the Commonwealth Disposals Commission between October-December 1946 at Rathmines. At least some were ferried to Rose Bay flying boat base in Sydney where they were parked in the open for future civil conversion, or used for parts. 
A Qantas Engineering report dated 1.8.49 lists the 14 Catalinas purchased by the airline. The following were not converted to civil aircraft and are are shown as "reduced to spares":

A24-300, -306, -309, -354, -355, -357, -367, -379

A24-355 was among those stripped of engines and parts and left behind at Rathmines. At an auction of these stripped airframes, A24-355 was purchased by John Cain and with three others, towed across Lake Macquarie to his Stoney Creek Holiday Village  (see below)

Butler Air Transport, Sydney
Established by C. Arthur Butler in 1934 at Cootamundra NSW with two DH.84 Dragons operating the Empire Air Mail route between Charleville Qld and Cootamundra NSW where the air mail was transferred to/from NSW Railways.  The base moved to Sydney in 1938, and restricted civil services were maintained throughout WWII. After the war, BAT acquired more Dragons and three C-47s from USAAF disposals in Philippines, to expand the route network to many new towns in NSW.  It is reported that the C-47s came without spare engines, so the Commonwealth Disposals Commission sales of Catalinas, fitted with the same P&W R-1830 Twin Wasp engines, would have been seen as a way to obtain spare engines, instruments and systems. 
When a group of 27 late-delivery Catalinas with low hours were advertised by CDC at RAAF Rathmines in August 1946 at a set price of 1,000 each, BAT purchased three and engaged a former company ground engineer J. E.Wood to remove the engines and useful parts and arrange their transportation to Sydney.
A24-202, -362, -376.

At an subsequent auction of stripped Catalina airframes at Rathmines, A24-202,-362 and -376 were purchased by John Cain and with A24-3, towed across Lake Macquarie to his Stoney Creek Holiday Village  (see below)

J. E. Wood, Lake Boga
Sydney-based aircraft engineer who had been a senior Qantas ground engineer on the Indian Ocean Catalinas in Perth in 1944. In May 1945 he received harsh criticism from DCA over the standard of workmanship in replacing corroded hull sections of Catalina G-AGID at the Qantas Nedlands marine base. Wood was supervising the work while Qantas base engineer N.W.Roberts was away. His respone blamed lack of competent tradesmen after most QEA maintenance staff were transferred from Nedlands to Perth Airport for the Qantas Liberators. 
By 1947 he had left his employment with Butler Air Transport at Sydney Airport to work freelance on Catalinas needing civil conversions. After working on Asian Airines' first Catalina at Rose Bay, Woods was paid by Butler Air Transport to remove and pack engines and parts from Catalinas the airline had purchased at Rathmines.  With this experience, Woods gained employment at Lake Boga to carry out similar work for other Catalina purchasers, supervising a team of workers.
While at Lake Boga, Woods submitted his own tenders to Commonwealth Disposals Commission, and purchased four Catalinas which he stripped for engines and parts, for resale as DC-3 spares.
A24-21, -47, -66, -86

Sydney Morning Herald / Herald Flying Services, Sydney
This established Sydney morning newspaper formed a subsidiary Herald Flying Services in 1947 to develop aerial delivery of morning newspapers to NSW country towns.  Commencing with ex RAAF Hudsons, HFS Manager Captain Harry Purvis created a network of routes where bundles of newspapers were handed over to agents at country airfields, or dropped from low flying aircraft. Two RAF disposals Dakotas were purchased in Scotland and ferried back to Sydney to join the operation, which was based at Camden Aerodrome, just south of Sydney.  The aircraft departed with their loads of newspapers from 2am onwards.
The Catalinas purchased by SMH were acquired only for their engines, systems and instruments, to become spares stock for HFS. Ground engineer J. E. Wood was engaged to do this work for the Lake Boga aircraft:
A24-59, -87 at Rathmines 24.3.47, 1,000 each
A24-95        at Lake Boga
5.11.47, 180

Australian National Airways Pty Ltd - ANA, Melbourne
Australia's major domestic airline, operated DC-2s and DC-3s prewar, purchased large numbers of USAAF disposals Douglas C-47s to build up postwar services. Introduced DC-4s, DC-6s, DC-6Bs.  These three Catalinas were almost certainly purchased to provide engines, instruments and parts to be held as DC-3 spares:
A24-37, -40, -103: all Lake Boga 15.10.46, 1,000 each

Kingsford Smith Aviation Service Pty Ltd, Sydney:
An aircraft aintenance and sales company established in 1945 by John T. Brown, who had been a senior Department of Aircraft Production military aircraft inspector during the war. He commenced by purchasing over 100 RAAF CAC Wackett Trainers from Commonwealth Disposals Commission, and specialised in civil conversion and modifications of ex-military aircraft. KSAS quickly became a successful operation and were the Australian agents for Auster Aircraft, selling over 300 new Austers in Australia. KSAS had a large spare parts division, and purchased the following Catalinas for engines and parts recovery, all located at Lake Boga for prices between 50 to 300 each. An inducation that KSAS was collecting spare airframe parts was that several of these were sold without engines. The stripped airframes were disposed of locally:
A24-4, -14, -19, -27, -28, -29, -30, -44, -56, -62, -68, -71, -80, -81, -83, -84, -88, -93.

- A24-19 went to a local farm, and the hull was last seen at Wallan Vic in 2001

- A24-30 went to farm, sections later used to rebuild a composite Catalina at Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, displayed complete
as RAAF "A24-30"
- A24-88 fuselage became a houseboat on River Murray, to Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin Airport Vic in June 2003, where it is under  restoration as RAAF "A24-88/RK-A"

                       Former houseboat A24-88 under restoration at Australian National Aviation Museum, Moorabbin, March 2016.
Photo by Ian McDonell

Barrier Reef Airways, Colmslie, Brisbane:
Founded in October 1946 by partners Captain Stewart Middlemiss, an experienced RAAF Catalina pilot, and Chris Poulson at Heron Island to operate from Brisbane to Heron Island and other Great Barrier Reeef island holiday resorts.
Low hours PB2B-2 Catalinas A24-369 & -364 were purchased from Rathmines and registered VH-BRA & VH-BRB, the airline commencing service with just VH-BRA. VH-BRB completed its civil conversion two years later and entered service in July 1949. A third PB2B-2 A24-304 was purchased at Rathmines at the same time but Middlemiss says he resold it to the Netherlands Navy.

Five other earlier model RAAF Catalinas were acquired for engines and parts. These were located at Lake Boga and sold by CDC on 10 November 1947 to Mr.S.C.Middlemiss, Barrier Reef Airways, DCA Flying Boat Base, Hamilton, Brisbane. All were in poor condition, sale prices a low 150 to 250 each, but were made sufficiently airworthy at Lake Boga to be ferried to the airline's base at Colsmlie, Brisbane River. These five Catalinas were parked around the wartime US Navy open-fronted hangars at Colmslie for some few years, parts being removed as required.
A24-35, -58, -78, -82, -89

Australair Ltd, Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney
No details have been found about this operation. Two Catalinas were purchased at Lake Boga on 5 November 1947, both in poor condition, low sale prices of 160 and 170 each.
A24-31, -57

Asian Airways Pty Ltd, Sydney:
Refer VH-BDY in the civil listing above for background on formation of Asian Airways, In addition to the civil-registered Catalinas owned by Asian Airways above, the company founder C.H. Campbell also purchased 9 other Catalinas. 
The company intended to carry freight to South East Asian destinations and to base aircraft in Singapore and Malaya. The Asian Airlines principles had no aviation experience and their affiliations with the Australian Communist Party, combined with inadequate financing, resulted in the operation folding after only a few flights with Catalina VH-BDQ.
Malayan authorities had refused their application to operate in Malaya, almost certainly because of concerns that they would be supporting communist backed uprisings in Malaya and neighbouring Indonesia.
9 Catalinas were purchased at Lake Boga on 12 November 1947 for 355 each, except for A24-97 which was 155.
The 355 priced aircraft were in reasonable condition and Asian Airlines' initial plans were to convert the best to civil aircraft.  However in the event they were stripped of engines and parts and the airframes left at Lake Boga to be disposed of locally or as scrap.
Two later model PB2B-2 Catalinas were purchased at Rathmines 30 January 1948:
Lake Boga: A24-46, -55, -60, -61, -65, -77, -85, -97, -102
Rathmines   A24-303, -305

- A24-46's fuselage ended up on a farm in the Lake Boga district and was salvaged in sections by Warbirds Aviation Museum at Mildura Vic in 1970.  Refer Lake Boga Disposals in this series on this site.  
When Asian Airlines was unable to start its planned operations to SE Asia later that year, A24-303 & -305 were acquired by Engineers Laboratories Pty Ltd in Sydney, who at that time were manufacturing passenger seats and other aircraft components. One is tempted to think they may have been in lieu of payment for seating and cabin equipment supplied to Asian Airlines' only airworthy Catalina VH-BDY. Engineers Laboratories on-sold the pair to Qantas at Rose Bay, Sydney and they became VH-EBA and VH-EBB.

J. Botterill & Fraser, South Melbourne:
Shipbuilders and boat repair company J. Botterill & Co joined with fromer RAAF pilot John W. Fraser in a business venture to operate Catalinas to carry freshly caught seafood from fishing trawlers at Port Davey in Tasmania to seafood markets in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney. A24-26 was purchased from W.R. Carpenter Pty Ltd, Sydney in early 1947, possibly already partly converted to civil standard, and entered service as VH-BDP in May 1947 on the Tasmania fish operation. Operations ceased early 1948, VH-BDP sold in May 1948.

Two additional Catalinas were purchased 8 December 1947 from CDC at Lake Boga for 400 each:
A24-2:  no civil conversion, left at Lake Boga. Included in the sale of VH-BDP in May 1948. Resold c1.50 to contractor A.E.Taylor at Lake Boga to be broken up for parts.
A24-10: VH-BEF reserved, no civil conversion, left at Lake Boga with civil registration painted on airframe. Included in the sale of VH-BDP in May 1948.  Resold c1.50 to contractor A.E.Taylor at Lake Boga to be broken up for parts.

A.W. Guthrie, Melbourne Vic
Catalina A24-79 was purchased by Mr.A.W. Guthrie, East St Kilda on 26 November 1947 at Lake Boga. The Commonwealrth Disposals Commission sale price of 110 indicates the aircraft was in poor condition.

A. E. S. Taylor, Lake Boga Vic
Mr. Taylor wrote to DCA on 4.9.49 requesting the owners of Catalinas VH-BEF and A24-2, abandoned at Lake Boga. He wishes to purchase them to break up for parts. "I am at present wrecking a number of Catalina aircraft here on behalf of a Sydney firm."
DCA replied advising VH-BEF was owned by Major Daniels in Singapore and A24-2 owned by Botterill & Fraser, Melbourne which is in liquidation. The letter helpfully suggested that he contact Mr.Botterill at a residential address in the Melbourne suburb of Hampton, who should be able to assist.  Taylor wrote again 20.3.50 thanking DCA for their help and advising he now owns both Catalinas.

R.P. Carr, Ingham Motors, Ingham Qld
Mr. Carr successfully tendered for three PB2B-2 Catalinas, each complete with engines and in good condition:

- A24-356 purchased 28.10.46 at Rathmines for 1,000.
   Not collected by purchaser  for over a year until 6.11.47. Fate unknown.

- A24-303 & A24-305 purchased 23.1.47 at Rathmines for 1,000 each.  Mr. Carr made no further contact with CDC regarding payment for, or collecting his two Catalinas. A blunt letter from CDC to Carr dated 24.11.47 stated that because he had failed to make payment, the aircraft will be re-sold and he will be required to pay for any loss incurred. The pair were were re-sold by CDC to Asian Airlines on 31.1.48 for a very low price of 185 each.

Richard P. Carr of Ingham Motors, Ingham Qld had plans to start a airfreight service from Queensland to New Guinea. He purchased Ryan STM VH-AGU on 15.11.46 from Ryan dealers Briwn & Dureau Ltd at Geelong Victoria. It was damaged only two weeks later during a forced landing on a road near Ingham on 1.12.46. The damaged Ryan was sent back to Brown & Dureau Ltd, Geelong for repair and resale. Carr immediately purchased Avro Anson VH-BAZ from Brown & Dureau on 19.1.47. 
Richard Carr came to DCA's attention the following year when he flew the Anson after its CofA had expired. His response stated that he used the Anson for transport in remote country for the Fortuna Mining Syndicate, of which he was a member. He sold his car business in 1948 and by the following year, the Anson was abandoned at Marybough Qld after waiting to start a CofA overhaul. Further letters from DCA were returned as "location unknown".

Mr. Fitzgibbon, Stanmore NSW
A non-standard disposal in 1950 was a USAAF OA-10A Catalina 44-34054 which had been left at RAAF Rathmines. It was offered for sale on an Australian Treasury disposal tender list, rather than the usual Commonwealth Disposals Commission.
This aircraft had been based at Morotai, Borneo in July 1945 with USAAF 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron and appears to have been later transferred to RAAF although no Australian serial number was issued.
44-34054 was sold to Mr.Fitzgibbon on 7.3.45 for 850 and apparently scrapped.

Airmotive Supply Co, New York, NY
On 29 September 1952, the final 23 Catalinas on RAAF strength were offered for sale by the Department of Supply. All were located at RAAF Rathmines where most had been in open storage for some time and were not in airworthy condition.  19 were sold "as is" to Airmotive Supply Co and struck-off RAAF charge in May 1953.  It can be safely assumed they were acquired only for engines and parts, which were removed at or near Rathmines and shipped to USA. The stripped airframes were no doubt sold for scrap:
PBY-5A: A24-109, -114
PB2B-1:  A24-200, -201
PB2B-2:  A24-302, -307, -352, -359,  -360, -363, -368, -373, -374, -375, -377, -380, -382, -383, -386

Stoney Creek Holiday Village, Toronto, Lake Macquarie
The collection of former RAAF Catalinas beached at or near RAAF Rathmines while engines and parts were removed by their purchasers, were now left behind as stripped airframes. They were later sold by auction "as is". Four Catalinas A24-202, -306, -309 and -355 were acquired by a local businessman
John ("Jack") Cain
.  He towed them behind a speedboat across Lake Macquarie to Toronto where he had built a holiday resort. The interiors of the Cats were fitted out as "floating bedrooms" as novel guest accommodation, moored at docks at the holiday village on the edge of the creek.

John Cairns' son, also named John, recalled the events in a recent story in the Newcastle Herald newspaper.
"I think it was Newcastle auctioneer Don McHattie who was working his way along the rows of planes and calling the auction from the back of a T-Model truck,’’ His father bought four Catalinas and turned them into floating accommodation on Stoney Creek, near Toronto.
"At the time he bought them, people said he’d never get them across the lake and under the old Fennell Bay bridge without taking the wings off, but he did it - with the help of a bloke from the Royal Motor Yacht Club who owned a speedboat. We used to play in the planes as kids. It was amazing what they left in them. They took out the engines and the armaments, but left flare pistols, smoke bombs, maps of the Coral Sea and tins of rations that I used to take to school and share with other kids.’’
John Cain Snr was a fiercely independent character who resented authorities.  Bitter after the government confiscated the stock of his Newcastle tyre business during the war, he moved his family to a block of land on Stoney Creek. There he started work on what was to become a 23-cabin holiday park and a zoo.  The cabins were all lit by electricity, supplied from army surplus equipment. Each had showers, toilets and iceboxes. They even had piped music and a PA system set up in every one, controlled from the front office.  In the austere early post-war days, the holiday park also had ex-army Nissen huts and old buses where people could stay, and there was an outdoor movie projector, a hand-cranked 35mm machine that screened reels of Felix the Cat and other cartoon favourites.

The interior fittings of the Catalinas were stripped and souvenired by holiday-makers, and their use as overnight accomodation was soon abandoned because of anti-social behavour over night.

A flood tore through the holiday park around 1950, ruining everything and washing the three remaining Catalinas into the creek. Authorities complained that the wrecks were a hazard, and John and friends cut them up, selling the aluminium for scrap. One of the wing floats was turned into a canoe for John Jnr, and his dad wired up a converted starter motor to a six-volt battery, fitting a propeller so his son could motor around the creek.  After the flood, the Cains moved over to Charlestown, shifting the zoo and animals but soon shut down. John Snr started a new tyre business at Islington which he ran on his own, becoming a recluse.

My thanks to Ray Fairall of Newcastle for the following photographs taken at the Stoney Creek Holiday Village:

The scene circa 1949. Former 20 Squadron Catalina A24-309 "RB-Z" in foreground and A24-306 "RB-S" behind

A24-306 "RB-S"at Stoney Creek circa 1949

RAAF 42 Squadron code "RK-" on this aircraft has been roughly painted over.

Former 43 Squadron A24-355 OX-H with weatherbeaten paint and missing nose turret and rudder

A24-355 after the storm which washed away the Stoney Creek Holiday Village

Katoomba Lake Catalina
One of the Stoney Creek Holiday Village Catalinas A24-202 was acquired in 1948 by Horace "Horrie" Gates of Katoomba NSW, who had established a successful amusement park near the Blue Mountains town.
Gates was the owner pf the Homesdale Guest House and Wentworth Cabaret. During 1946 he decided that a new attraction was needed to bring tourists back to the Blue Mountains after the war. He dammed Katoomba falls creek and had an ornamental lake and amusement park constructed offering "every facility for fun and food".

A24-202 was carefully dismantled and moved by road from Newcastle to Katoomba, the fuselage being towed on beaching gear, in an operation overseen by former RAAF aircraft engineer Walter Smeal who had been a Department of Aircraft Production airworthiness inspector during the war. At Katoomba it was reassembled and
spray-painted all silver with mocked-up engine cowlings and propellers. Anchored to a concrete block in the middle of the lakeholiday-makers could pay a fee to be taken by boat to go on board the Catalina. Other attractions included speed boat rides, tea rooms, miniature train, Ferris wheel, merry-go-round, swimming pool and the "Giggle House" showing Charlie Chaplin films.

A later report said "Up to thirty visitors at a time paid two shillings to be taken out to the flying boat by punt where in the dark, stuffy interior, they viewed a Black & White film of a flight over the Sydney area, heard the story of the Catalina and tried out the controls. While the film was showing, an assistant would stand on the wing rocking the plane to simulate flight while the speed boat would circle the lake providing waves and engine noise. Fun seekers emerged from this surround-sound experience dizzy and gasping for air, many too ill to enjoy further amusements."

At its peak the Katoomba Lake holiday park operated as the region's swimming pool and
provided a New Years Eve fireworks display and street parade. After a  few years its popularity declined and it fell into disrepair and the lake water became polluted. Council purchased the land in 1952 with the plan to turn the area into a public park and treated-water swimming pool. In 1954 the Catalina, showing signs of age and wear, was pulled up onto the bank and left to the ravages of weather and souvenir hunters. In 1958 it was sold to Sheffield Welding & Engineering, Auburn NSW, dismantled and cut up for scrap.

PB2B-1 Catalina A24-202 painted all silver, floating at the Katoomba Lake holiday park circa 1950.
Photo by John Savage via David Vincent collection

Presented by Australian Government to Netherlands Navy
In 1952 the Australian Government announced that it would present six Catalinas to the Dutch Goverment, for use by their Navy (MLD) in Dutch New Guinea. All were PBY-5A amphibians, in open storage at RAAF Rathmines.  Their weathered condition required complete overhauls, which the RAAF no longer had the capacity to carry out, so a contract was awarded to Bristol Aviation Services at Bankstown Airport, Sydney. 
The overhauls took place over the next 18 months. A Sydney newspaper report on 27.6.54 stated that so far only one Catalina had been completed and flown to Biak and that the overhaul cost which was estimated to be 192,000 would be closer to 300,000.
Each aircraft was collected by Dutch crews and ferried to Biak, Netherland New Guinea.  There they were only operated for several years before replaced by MLD Martin Mariners:
A24-92   to MLD 16-223, spares recovery only
A24-99   to MLD 16-224, scrapped at Biak 1.57
A24-104 to MLD 16-220, scrapped at Biak 11.56
A24-110 to MLD 16-221, delivered via Brisbane 20.7.54, scrapped at Biak 8.56
A24-111 to MLD 16-222, scrapped at Biak 4.58
A24-112 to MLD 16-225, scrapped at Biak 1.57

A24-112 at Bankstown in 1953 waiting for overhaul by Bristol Aviation Services for the Netherlands Navy
Photo: The Collection p1177-0131

Netherlands Navy (MLD) Catalina 16-222 on a test flight at Bankstown in 1954 was previously RAAF A24-111
The Collection p1177-0105

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References, Parts 1 and 2:
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors
- National Archives of Australia - Department of Civil Aviation aircraft files
- RAAF Status Cards, RAAF Historical: Catalina A24- series
- British Civil Aircraft Since 1919, Volume 2, A. J. Jackson, Putnam London 1973
- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, monthly 1960-1975
- Flypast A Record of Aviation in Australia, T.W.Boughton and N.M.Parnell, Civil Aviation Authority 1988
- NSW Air Log, monthly, 1964
- Australian Air Log, monthly, 1965-1968
- Air Britain periodicals, 1950 onwards: movement reports, civil register and news
- Qantas Indian Ocean Service 1943-1946, Barry Pattison and Geoff Goodall, AHSA 1979
- Qantas At War, Hudson Fysh, Angus and Robertson, 1968
- Catalina Chronicle - A History of RAAF Operations, David Vincent, self-published c1982
- Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record, David Legg, Airlife England, 2001
- General Dynamics Aircraft and their Predecessors, John Wegg, Putnam 1990
- US Navy Aircraft Since 1911, Gordon Swanborough & Peter M. Bowers, Putnam, 1990
- Wings of Gold - How the Aeroplane Developed New Guinea, James Sinclair
- Balus - The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, Volume 1, James Sinclair, Robert Brown & Assoc, 1986
- The British Air Commission and Lend Lease, K. J. Meekcoms, Air Britain 2000
- Lake Boga at War, Brett Freeman, Catalina Publications 1995
- Outback Airman, Harry Purvis with Joan Priest, Rigby 1979
- Syd's Pirates,  the formation of Cathay Pacific Airways, Charles Eather, Durnmount, Sydney 1983
- The Historic Civil Register of Australia series VH-A, Tony Arbon & David Sparrow, AustAirData Publications
- The Katoomba Cat, David Vincent, Aviation Heritage quartly, AHSA June 2016
- British Aircraft Military Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens 1979
- US Military Aircraft Designations and Serials since 1909, J. M. Andrade, Midland County Publications 1979
- The Two Gubas, Jack Meaden, Air Britain Digest, Spring 1991
- Alan Bovelt, Pacific Islands Aviation Society, owners and aircraft listings 1968-1973
- Australian Seaplanes - a listing by David C. Eyre, Sydney 2015
- The Truth, Identities of QEA Catalinas, David Vincent: paper based on airframe log books and QEA Engineering records
- Those Rottnest Catalinas, Arthur Jones, AHSA Aviation Heritage
- Arthur W. Jones, ex RAAF Catalina fitter: interview transcript 24.3.91 at Harvey WA
- Catalina Flying Memorial website:
- Keith Mattingley, Perth: information re Catalina Memorial Foundation's acquisition of N9502C 
- Matt Cobb for sending his Great Uncle's BOAC pilot log book entry for G-AGBJ
- David Legg: continuing correspondence: detailed analysis, updates and amendments for this page. Thank you David.

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