RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Any photos, plans, drawings, directions, helpful hints on visting places where flying boats have been operated from historically, or are being operated from today. I am always interested in receiving 'Then & Now' type photographs to assist current day visitors to these place. I'm trying to record the best places to visit before they disappear for ever.

RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Fri Jun 12, 2009 4:19 pm

Hi all

Thought I post a few of these (mostly found on the web-apologies if they belong to anyone).

Lauthala Bay is actually spelt Laucala Bay, the Fijians pronounce "C" as "Th" so comes out
Lauthala bay.

The formation of Lauthala Bay as a RNZAF Base began just prior to WWII (May 1939).

The base
Image
Image
Image

Two Squadrons operated from there being No's 5/6 maritime, eventualy just No 5 remained.

The base operated a few different types of flying boats being:

Short Singapore Mk III
Image
Image
Image

PBY5/PB2B-1/2 Catalina
Image

Short Sunderland Mk III/MR5
Image
Image

My father was stationed at Lauthala Bay for about a year (before I was born), had some interesting
tales to tell.

For example when a full LOX bottle was dropped in the hangar and bounced of the hangar walls
some 6 times (luckily without hitting anyone), he made the comment that there were some
very "Pale" people picking themselves off the floor, Natives inclusive.

Another time while working on the electrical system of a Pratt & whitney R 1830 Engine, on the water,
he decided to take a dive off the wing into the lagoon below, when he noticed a very large and dark
shadow slowly swimming by (Fiji waters are notorously shark infested) he decided against it.

Lauthala Bay finally closed in 1967 after the last Sunderland flew out from there back to
New Zealand, the Sunderlands were being replaced.
Image

The base was turned over to the Fijian government who used it to house the University of Fiji.

Today the big hangar has gone (white termites took care of it) but the base is still there more or less.

Some links
http://rnzaf.hobbyvista.com/cat1.html

http://www.5sqnassn.org.nz/gallery%20page%207.htm

This one is well worth a look (great colour shots of the Sunderlands on the water)
http://images.google.co.nz/imgres?imgur ... n%26sa%3DX

Please enjoy

Regards

Alan
sunderlandmr5
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Pondskater » Tue Jun 16, 2009 4:21 pm

Those are nice photos, thanks. I particularly like the photo of the last Sunderland leaving, under escort.

What was the story about one of the Singapore's surviving post war as a house boat on the river near Lauthala Bay? I had heard that it survived until at least the 1960s. I can't imagine it would have gone unnoticed since then though.

One more from me, probably a partner to the Sunderland photo you show above, this shows a more inland view.

Image


Allan
User avatar
Pondskater
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:28 am
Location: UK - Deep south west

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:24 am

Hi Allan

Thanks for the photo addition, my father had a whole heap of
slides from Lauthala Bay, but I have no idea when/if I'll be able to get
hold of them, as they are with my mother overseas.

On a forum I belong to in New Zealand, there was some discussion
on the Singapores in Fiji.
If you click on this link it has comments about the Singapores
and makes mention of the house boat (second page nothing too specific though)

http://rnzaf.proboards.com/index.cgi?bo ... hread=1376

Regards

Alan
Last edited by sunderlandmr5 on Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
sunderlandmr5
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby flyernzl » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:41 am

Those days in the 1960s at Lauthala Bay and the other Pacific Islands must have been quite an idyllic time.
Some evocative shots taken by a RNZAF stores officer (now deceased) who served there:

Two Sunderlands moored out, and TEAL Solent ZK-AMO about to depart

Image

Solent ZK-AMO under tow to the holding point

Image

Image

Image

and the classic South Pacific departure scene

Image
User avatar
flyernzl
 
Posts: 272
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 11:05 pm

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Pondskater » Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:08 pm

Alan - it was Dave Homewood who told me about the Singapore houseboat in Fiji. An intriguing story but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he turned up the details of it eventually. I was searching a file for details of the four NZ Sunderland IIIs when I accidentally came across info on how New Zealand got the four Singapores. Dave now has it to add to the story he is piecing together.

Peter - great photos, really atmospheric. They capture the real romance of the flying boats in Fiji. Thanks so much for sharing them.

Allan
User avatar
Pondskater
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:28 am
Location: UK - Deep south west

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Thu Jun 18, 2009 8:47 am

Pondskater wrote:Alan - it was Dave Homewood who told me about the Singapore houseboat in Fiji. An intriguing story but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he turned up the details of it eventually. I was searching a file for details of the four NZ Sunderland IIIs when I accidentally came across info on how New Zealand got the four Singapores. Dave now has it to add to the story he is piecing together.

Allan


Hi Allan

So you have chatted with Dave, cool! He's a very knowledgable man!

Interesetingly we had a chat just recently on the forum and the Singapore's were mentioned
with reference to Geoff Fisken (one of New Zealand's premier fighter aces) who I had read
originally was slated to serve in Singapore with the Singapore's ( how's that for a play on words!!)
but at the last minute was changed to fighter training, another lead for him to follow.

Peter, That last photo of the Sunderland takeoff, what can I say but this, I feel like sitting back
on a deck chair with virgin Pina Colada in hand and taking in the sight!!! :D :D :D

Thanks for posting!!!
sunderlandmr5
 
Posts: 153
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 9:25 am
Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Bumble » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:48 am

Lovely pictures Alan.I don't know if you've got the book The golden age of flying boats in New Zealand ( Random House NZ 1997 ),but there's a whole chapter on Lauthala Bay in it.It's probably out of print now but Mr.B got my copy through abebooks.com
Bumble
 
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:25 pm
Location: UK, near LGW

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Bumble » Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:55 am

Actually I got the book's title wrong.It should be The golden age of New Zealand flying boats.
Bumble
 
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:25 pm
Location: UK, near LGW

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Pondskater » Thu Jun 18, 2009 11:14 am

Thanks Bumble, another book to add to my wish list. There's one on ABE just now:
http://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/Searc ... ew+Zealand

Mind you it is £62. :shock: And to think somebody said my book was expensive!
User avatar
Pondskater
 
Posts: 217
Joined: Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:28 am
Location: UK - Deep south west

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Bumble » Thu Jun 18, 2009 12:07 pm

I can't think who you mean .... ( I still wake up screaming about that ).£62 for a book is outrageous,I think Mr. B paid about £40 a few years ago.He's let a few of those moths out of his wallet and we're going to NZ again in November so if you really want it that gives me an excuse to look in every second hand bookshop ( as if I needed an excuse ) or maybe borrow my copy if it was essential reading.Incidentally I was talking to someone on another forum whose grandfather had worked as an engineer on Solents and it's possible we might meet for a chat as he lives in Auckland,which would be great.
Bumble
 
Posts: 120
Joined: Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:25 pm
Location: UK, near LGW

Next

Return to Flying Boat Bases - New and Old



Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests

Help keep this forum ad-free - please Donate


This free, ad-free forum is hosted by ForumLaunch