Aussie Cats present and past

The source for references and discussion on all types & marques of this iconic WWII USN PBY flying boat: photos, plans, manual pages & documents.

Aussie Cats present and past

Postby SailingtheSky » Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:50 am

There are quite a few Catalinas in Australia these days, managed to visit a couple
recently. Two hours south of Sydney at Albion Park the Historic Aircraft Restoration
Society Catalina, Australia's only airworthy Cat.

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The other side of the country the in Perth the Bull Creek aviation museum's Catalina in USN markings.
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Also around two hours flying time north of Perth the remains of a RAF
Catalina in the mud flats off the small coastal town of Broome, her story
as follows.

Please excuse me from getting a bit carried away and turning this into
a bit of a once upon a time type story. This little “quest in the west” has
been a bit of a dream come true for me as I have been interested in
flying boat stories wherever they may have occurred for many years.

My wife an I have been interested in visiting Australia’s isolated north
western corner for many years. The opportunity finally arose and after
the long flight from Sydney via Perth we found ourselves in the Broome.

The small remote coastal town made many people wealthy on the back of
the pearling industry, which still exists today. I am a fan of history and
Broome perhaps holds the story of Australia’s most dramatic and tragic
aviation related events.

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In the early days of WW II the Japanese advanced their way south through
Asia towards the island nation, many europeans escaped via whatever means
available. An obvious method of escape by air, fights to Perth often staged
via Broome with an airstrip and the protected waters of Roebuck Bay for
flying boats.

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A memorial and Japanese gate looking south out over Roebuck Bay.

On the morning of 3/3/42 fifteen flying boats were moored in Roebuck Bay,
five Dornier D024s, eight Catalinas and two Empire Class flying boats.
At around 9.30am nine Mitsubishi A6M.2 Zero fighters of the 3rd Kokutai
(Aircraft Group) arrived over Broome. All fifteen flying boats as well as a
number of land planes and other installations where destroyed. It is believed
around 80 people where also killed or lost at sea, the exact number to this
day has not been verified.

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Broome Museum collection.

The local museum has a number of artefacts and photos from the event.

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A water colour of a sinking Dornier with a Pearl lugger taking off passengers.
Broome Museum collection.

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Dornier engine.

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The remains of a Bristol Peagasus from one of the Empire Class boats.

We timed our visit to coincide with a lowish tide, .94m at 5.45pm. The tides
in the area can be some the most dramatic on the planet, on 25/6/17 the
variance was from .9m to 9.45m! I had make some local enquiries and
was told the tide wouldn’t get low enough to view the wrecks at the time
of my visit. In retrospect I believe to locals discourage walking out to the
wrecks so as people don’t get caught out by the rapidly moving water!
Armed with a bit of determination and my trusty Canon I set off across
the mud flats to seek a flying boat wreck!

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Firstly came across some man made structure which didn’t look like a flying
boat, correctly deduced it was part of the old jetty which no longer exists.

It was quite a hike through sticky mud to the waters edge, had to wade in
places through at times knee deep water. I bumped into a couple of airline
pilots who where also pretty keen so we teamed up. Initially heading west
towards the setting sun, with both the light fading and the tide about to turn
things were’t looking too promising. Gave up on the western search retraced
my steps east, then off in the distance I spotted a dark line! On getting closer
I discovered my quest in the west, obvious remains of a wrecked aeroplane.

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This is the remains of RAF Catalina FV-N, looking south west towards the coast.

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In the foreground the starboard engine, the exhaust looking from underneath
the rest of the engine buried in the mud.

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Standing in front of the port engine, you can see very clearly where the front
turret would site towards the left front of the image.

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A little mystery, how did the starboard engine end up off to the port side?
A number of reasons I guess, maybe it exploded and was thrown that way
or perhaps the tidal movement had moved the fuselage?

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Sometimes you just get lucky, there are a couple of hovercraft that do tours out
over the mud flats, right when I was about to leave this chaps showed up, off to
the right you can just see some wreckage of another flying boat.

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Even luckier, not sure if the pilot/skipper put her in front of me I am grateful
if he did! Again off in the distance to the right you can see another wreck.
Now sorry about the following but I simple can’t help myself. “A wrecked
flying boat with a boat that flies.”

An informative PDF with information about the wrecks.
http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201202/r902141_9176580.pdf
Last edited by SailingtheSky on Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:19 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby Rajay » Tue Jun 27, 2017 4:00 pm

The PBY in Perth / Bull Creek looks to be amazingly complete. In spite of being a static display inside a museum, do you have any idea how close to "airworthy" it is?

And as a personal observation or opinion, I understand the historical significance of the all-over black paint schemes used for night operations during the war, but I cannot imagine how much of an "oven" it would be under a hot summer sun - and therefore I also cannot understand anyone wanting to paint an aircraft like that if you didn't absolutely "have" to!
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby DavidLegg » Tue Jun 27, 2017 7:16 pm

Quote: "The RAAF had nearly 400 Catalinas."

Thanks for posting all of those great photos. Re the above quote, the RAAF had nowhere near 400 Catalinas. The actual figure was 168.

Rajay - re the Bull Creek query, it had not flown for a very long time before being restored in the USA for the Museum. It was at one point owned by David Tallichet who displayed it outside one of his restaurants. I've got the full history - if you want it, you know my email address. One interesting point about the aircraft is that, as can be seen from the photos, although it was a late PBY-5A model, it was built with a PBY-6A-style triangular bombardier window in the bow. This window shape was introduced just before PBY-5A production ceased.
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby SailingtheSky » Wed Jun 28, 2017 1:49 am

[quote="DavidLegg"]Quote: "The RAAF had nearly 400 Catalinas."

Thanks for posting all of those great photos. Re the above quote, the RAAF had nowhere near 400 Catalinas. The actual figure was 168.

I stand corrected thank you David, I just presumed with the last serial number being A24-386 they had nearly 400, great reference to
the RAAF Catalinas below.

http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a24.htm
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby DavidLegg » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:49 am

Yes, although the serial run started at A24 -1 and ended at A24-386 there were significant gaps so the actual number supplied to the RAAF was 168 although, as with most things related to Catalinas, there is a caveat! A USAAF OA-10A Catalina was left behind in Australia and was taken on by the RAAF although it was not allocated a RAAF serial and I do not believe it was actually used but was sold off as surplus. So, arguably, there were 169 but 168 is the number supplied under contracts and Lend-Lease. Also, a US civilian registered PBY-5A was painted up in RAAF colours a few decades ago and carried the spurious serial A24-387 but it was not official.
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby SailingtheSky » Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:11 pm

Sadly as many would know all the above photo bucket pic's have gone,
I will get around to restoring them one day, in the meantime I chased
down another Cat being brought back from the brink!

Catalina restoration near Rathmines, the former RAAF Catalina base just
south of Newcastle on Lake Macquarie. This old gem was imported from
South America, she has a long way to go but will one day be restored
in RAAF markings.
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby SailingtheSky » Tue Jul 11, 2017 11:33 pm

Just to finish off the Broome flying boat postings on our way out
found this plaque in main st
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At the airport one of the Dornier engines with a prop.
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Looking down onto the township with Roebuck Bay below, you can
also see the airstrip that runs through the middle of the town.
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Rest in Peace.
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby SailingtheSky » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:29 am

Our local museum recently had a bit of a fire sale of images they don't use anymore,
managed to score some gems. A wonderful late war shot of a RAAF PB2B2 “Black Cat”
on Lord Howe island. Love the wear and tear, the crew members reaction to what he
has just heard on the phones, also note the rudder hasn’t been repainted and the
quality of the image, that's why I posted it so big, sorry!
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Another nice shot, from what I can make out the RAAF got 47 of the 67 late model
PB2B2 tall tailed Catalinas manufactured, happy to be corrected.
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby DavidLegg » Thu Dec 07, 2017 11:11 am

Nice shots - thanks for posting. Your figure of 47 is correct.
David Legg
Editor: The Catalina News, The Catalina Society
Author: Consolidated PBY Catalina - The Peacetime Record
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Re: Aussie Cats present and past

Postby dogsbody » Thu Dec 07, 2017 4:11 pm

Beauty pictures. Thanks for posting them.


Chris
"What young man could possibly be bored
with a uniform to wear,
a fast aeroplane to fly,
and something to shoot at?"
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