Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

This is the place to discuss particular Shorts Flying Boat types and post documents, photographs and other relevant information appertaining to these craft.

Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Mon Jun 20, 2011 9:18 am

A bucolic scene indeed for Queenie.

Although the Aviation Section is currently closed to the public by the building works, I was able to inspect the interior of MoTATs new hangar complex last week thanks to PJW.
The new area is all complete and pretty well finish apart from a few minor details like stair handrails. The polished concrete floor is going to cause a few problems for the photographers.
As the new part is an extension of and joined on to the older hangar, work is now proceeding in the older part of the building to bring that up to the same standard (i.e. stop the roof from leaking!). This entails moving the balance of the display aircraft back from the old area to the new before they drop stuff on them. When I was there, they were busy trying to get the Lancaster off the supports back on to its wheels.
It all seems to be going well, and both boats are scheduled to be under cover in about three months time.

I do have to agree that its pretty pointless trying to restore the exterior of the Sunderland before it is under cover.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Tue Jun 21, 2011 9:04 am

Sunderland EJ167 was built by Shorts at Belfast as Mk.III. and after serving with the RAF from November 1943 was returned to the Short factory at Belfast on 9Feb1952 to be renovated for the RNZAF as NZ4116.

Arriving at Hobsonville on 27Jun1953, NZ4116 served as a 5Sdn aircraft from that date carrying the codes KN-C KN-G and KN-S.
Upon the fleet merger in 1956, it was assigned the code S

On the hard at Lauthala Bay

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Pre-flight check for NZ4116

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NZ4116 airborne over what looks like inland Fiji

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Maintenance at Mechanics Bay

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In the braby at Hobsonville

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Moored at Hobsonville 12May1964

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Overhead Hobsonville, May 1964

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NZ4116 was one of the last serving RNZAF boats, along with NZ4107, NZ4113 and NZ4114. It flew from Lauthala Bay to Hobsonville on 2Nov1966 (flight time 10 hours 15 minutes) and a local flight on the 10th November was its last. It was transferred to the Government Stores Board 6Feb1967, and was one of the batch sold to Australian Aircraft Sales, Sydney & scrapped at Hobsonville later that year.

NZ4116 hauled up on the hard at Hobsonville early 1967, NZ4112 to the rear


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Engines removed by 1July1967

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Awaiting the scrapman at Hobsonville 1Oct1967

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Next: NZ4117
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu Jun 23, 2011 9:03 am

Sunderland RN286 was built by Blackburn at Dumbarton as Mk.V. and after serving with the RAF from April 1945 was returned to the Short factory at Belfast on 22Aug1952 to be renovated for the RNZAF as NZ4117.

Arriving at Hobsonville on 9May1953, NZ4117 served as a 5Sdn aircraft from that date carrying the code KN-K.
Upon the fleet merger in 1956, it was assigned the code T

NZ4117 on the hard at Lauthala Bay

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Overhead a city. I presume that this is Auckland though I cannot place the exact area

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NZ4117 doing what MR5s were designed to do, maritime patrol


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During the post-war period, the RNZAF maintained a forward base at the island of Tarawa, in what was then the Gilbert Islands (a British dependency), now part of the Republic of Kiribati. The island groups of Kiribati extend over a distance of around 3,000 km east-to-west, and 2,000 km north-to-south. They straddle the Equator and bestride the International Date Line. Tarawa itself is pretty much on a line due north of New Zealand and about 1 degree 25 minutes (85 nautical miles) into the Northern Hemisphere.

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In the 1950s and 1960s the RNZAF base was "activated" about once every two months or so, for a week or a fortnight, by a one- or two-aircraft detachment from Lauthala Bay in Fiji.
In April 1961, 5Sdn Sunderland NZ4117 was tasked with routing to Tarawa for the next activation.

Robin Klitscher, part of the crew at that time, relates the incident:
"Sunderland NZ4117 turned onto final approach to land to the east on the lagoon at Tarawa. The aim was to alight just past the main islet of Betio and parallel to its neighbour Bairiki. The flight from Lauthala Bay had been indirect, the aircraft having been tasked to patrol en route. At the time of arrival in the late afternoon of 15 April 1961 fuel was getting low. The aircraft had reserves, but was not going anywhere except the lagoon right there, nor at any time except right now.

But there was a problem. The machine had arrived just as a serious tropical line squall hit the atoll. These things can be of great fury but are normally of short duration. But this one had hung around, delaying the landing. Eventually it abated a little and, although the water was still very rough, the captain decided the time had come.

The lagoon at Tarawa is large, but is reasonably shallow and sheltered particularly from the east, so open-sea swell was not a problem. Because it is so large and the islet periphery so low-lying, however, there is ample fetch for the wind to whip up a significant short-period steep-sided wave train inside the reef. And so it was on this day.

There was no risk of being thrown off the surface by a swell. But, coming the other way at the critical moment, the aircraft met a large, steep-sided wave. Whack – as I've said elsewhere, water is less compressible than dirt.

I was one of three pilots aboard that day, and was standing in the lookout position at the astrodome in the roof. There were no such niceties as being strapped in; the lookout just stood there completely unrestrained. When the aircraft struck, it struck hard enough for me to jump down from the two-foot high platform and look for somewhere to go. Slightly forward and to the right, the navigator had been sitting at his station, task done, waiting for touchdown. On impact he, too, decided he wanted to be somewhere else, and stood up. The result was that we both tried to occupy the same space at the same time, which didn't work.

While we sorted that out the aircraft ploughed on, bucking energetically in the chop. Then it began to sink quite quickly. The keelson had broken under the bow compartment. The planing hull was breached.

The water remained very rough. The break in the keelson could not be dealt with from the inside, and there was no prospect of inspecting the damage or of doing anything about it from the outside until the aircraft was securely moored. Meantime, water was coming into the bow compartment through the break at a great rate.

The APU pump had, as expected, worked briefly and then choked. It was useless. The hand pump could not keep pace with the inflow, though it continued to be used to reduce the effects. This had to be done in relays by crew members.

The working stroke on the hand pump was the upstroke - its design assumed an upright stance and the use of the major muscle groups in the back. But it was not possible to stand upright in the bow compartment. Cramped and stooped under the low deckhead, the heavy pull stroke fell to the triceps alone, arms akimbo. With the aircraft still not moored and heaving in the sea, in the confined space and in the enervating temperatures to be expected in equatorial conditions, those doing this heavy work soon succumbed to seasickness. They had no choice but to continue knee-deep in sea water in which now floated their own vomit, and which threatened to spill over the isolating bulkheads into the rearward compartments. This was tenacious stuff, some might say heroic, but it was as much expected of crews as it was necessary. And this crew did have a vested interest!

When the aircraft was finally moored and the squall had subsided, crew members dived over the side to inspect the damage from the outside. After making an impression of the breach with a large piece of Plasticine they reduced the rate of the leak for the time being with coir mats. Then they constructed a plaster-of-Paris mould from the Plasticine former. Finally they melted a (considerable) quantity of solder and formed it using this mould. When it solidified the metal was bolted to the damaged area finally to stop the leak altogether.
"

The date was 15Apr61. After considerable work by the crew, and shored up with wooden stiffeners, NZ4117 limped back to Lauthala Bay in Fiji two weeks later (anyone know the exact date?) where the aircraft was beached for assessment. Considered to be beyond repair, NZ4117 was written off the books on 18Aug1961 and scrapped. This was the only Sunderland to be scrapped at Lauthala Bay. The remains were melted down by a local scrap merchant and the resultant ingots sold to Comalco in Australia.

Next: NZ4118
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Sat Jun 25, 2011 5:38 am

Sunderland RN306 was built by Blackburn at Dumbarton as Mk.V and after serving with the RAF from September 1945 was returned to the Short factory at Belfast on 15Dec1953 to be renovated for the RNZAF as NZ4118.

Arriving at Hobsonville on 13May1954, NZ4118 served as a 6Sdn aircraft from that date carrying the code XX-A.

NZ4118 carrying out a low-level pass at an airshow during the mid-1950s. Judging by the hills in the background, this could be at Omaka. Note the gent in the doorway.

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Two more views of NZ4118 airborne

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One of the first RNZAF Sunderlands to be withdrawn from use and held in stored reserve in the Number 3 hangar at Hobsonville, it was never assigned a single code letter.

In reserve storage, Hobsonville 13May1964

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Stored from the late 1950s, NZ4118 was then taken outside early in 1965 and stripped of any useful components

Hobsonville, April 1965

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At Hobsonville 22Nov1965

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Finally NZ4118 was dragged to the non-operational side of the Hobsonville field and broken up for scrap in 1966.
Sale price was reported as 15 pounds!

Awaiting scrapping, 8Jan1966

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Next: NZ4119
Last edited by flyernzl on Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Sun Jun 26, 2011 12:38 am

Sunderland PP143 was built by Blackburn at Dumbarton as Mk.III and after serving with the RAF from November 1944 was returned to the Short factory at Belfast on 15Jan1954 to be renovated for the RNZAF as NZ4119.

Arriving at Hobsonville on 22April1954, NZ4119 served as a 6Sdn aircraft from 27th April carrying the code XX-B.
NZ4119 seems to have been only infrequently used, the only specific flights I can trace are that on 7Nov1955 NZ4119 flew from Hobsonville to Evans Bay, Wellington, where passengers and mail were taken on board. It then flew to Bluff where it was delayed for four days by bad weather at its planned destination, Campbell Island. The Sunderland arrived at Campbell Island on the 11th at 9.00am. Mail was also carried on the return flight made the same day back to Wellington (and then presumably back to Hobsonville in the next day or two).
On the 25Nov1955 NZ4119 was taken on strength with the MOCU, but again seems to have been little used. No photographs seem to exist of its active life.

One of the first RNZAF Sunderlands to be withdrawn from use (in August 1957) and held in stored reserve in the Number 3 hangar at Hobsonville along with NZ4108, NZ4109 and NZ4118, it was never assigned a single code letter.

By early 1962 it had been declared surplus. It was then stripped of parts and taken to the non-operational side of Hobsonville to be scrapped.

NZ4119 awaiting the scrapman October 1962. The derelict Sunderland in the background would be NZ4106

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Next: NZ4120
Last edited by flyernzl on Sat Sep 12, 2015 6:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Tue Jun 28, 2011 10:41 am

Sunderland RN291 was built by Blackburn at Dumbarton as Mk.V, and after serving with the RAF from May 1945 was returned to the Short factory at Belfast on 15Feb1954 to be renovated for the RNZAF as NZ4120.

Arriving at Hobsonville on 6May1954, NZ4120 served as a 6Sdn aircraft from that date carrying the codes XX-C

NZ4120 seaborne at Hobsonville with 6Sdn

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This aircraft then went to 5Sdn and served at Lauthala Bay as KN-Z

NZ4120 at Lauthala Bay

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Seaborne refueling in the Islands

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When the Sunderland fleet was merged, NZ4120 adopted the code Z

Maintenance at Mechanics Bay


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NZ4120 airborne over the Hauraki Gulf 1959

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Withdrawn from service in 1965, NZ4120 was then parked in 'rotten row' in the weather at Hobsonville

Hobsonville April 1965

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Closeup details

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Hobsonville 6Jun1966


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By late 1966, the airframe had been moved to the scrapping area along with NZ4105

Hobsonville 29Nov1966

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29Jan1967

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NZ4120 was then scrapped within a few weeks.

Next: wrap up
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:16 am

That folks is the tale of the Kiwi-based Short flying boats, from A to Z

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There are still some details to be sorted out, particularly the date sequence of the Mk.5 Sunderlands.
Here is a listing of these aircraft in order of delivery. If anyone can add to or correct any of these dates I'd be glad to hear from them at pvlewisnz@gmail.com

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F = delivery flight ended at Fiji
H = delivery flight ended at Hobsonville
* = NZ4110 was converted to INST183 as at that date, INST183 SOC 14Apr1964
# = NZ serials gives dd for NZ4117 as 9May1953, Harrisons "Golden Age' book gives dd as 9May1955. 1954 appears more logical.

Its been a bit of a mission getting here. There are a few minor amendments that have come to hand since this project started in February, but that will have to wait as I'm away for a while.
Thanks are due to the late Leo White, Marcus Bridle, Alan (Sunderlandmr5), the late Bill Pennaligan, Don Noble, Nev Mines, John Rankin, Mary Garden, Peter Layne, Peter Wheeler, Bruce, the mysterious Whatakraka, Robin Klitscher and Richard Cornwall. I also acknowledge additional data from adfserials and "The Golden Age of New Zealand Flying Boats" by Harrison/Lockstone/Anderson.

It's a pity we will not see sights like this again, but I'm glad to have seen a very small part of it.

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In the meantime - that's all I know!

Ends
Last edited by flyernzl on Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby MrWidgeon » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:40 am

STUNNING !
A stellar piece of work Peter, Well Done !

Cheers,
Bill
In water flying attitude is everything
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby AlexNortonesq » Thu Jun 30, 2011 12:58 pm

Well done. Thank you.

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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby GUMMIPUFFER » Sun Jul 10, 2011 5:14 am

HI PETER - THANX FOR MANY GREAT SHOTS - AM MYSTIFIED ON THAT P+W 1830 OVERHEATING - AS THE SANDRINGHAM IS SAME AS THE SUNDERLAND MK V IN REGARD TO ITS ENGINE INSTALLATION AND I DON'T RECALL THE R.N.Z.A.F. COMPLAINING ABOUT THAT OVERHEATING WHEN WE MODDED THE MK V s FOR THEM - THANX J.C.
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