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 sunderlandmr5 » Sun Feb 27, 2011 5:56 am

Hi Peter

Thank you for posting those awesome photos, and
the commentary that goes with it.

New Zealand certainly has a rich Flying Boat history, and
certainly one we Kiwi's can be proud of :D :D :D

Regards

Alan
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:00 am

As you say, Alan.

Interesting to note that, in the 1920s, the original air services to New Zealand were planned to use airships. Thus Ohakea was originally selected as the ideal international airship terminal. The R100/R101 and later Hindenberg events put paid to that idea.

So then flying boats became seen as the ideal solution, until the development of paved airfields and long-range land-based aircraft during WW2 supersceded them.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Thu Mar 03, 2011 11:54 am

The third Short S.25 Sandringham 'Tasman' class Sunderland conversion for TEAL had been built by Shorts at Belfast as a Sunderland Mk.III and was taken on charge by the RAF as NJ179 on 12Jun1944.

After a period of operational service the aircraft was returned to Shorts for conversion to civil status at Belfast in 1946, and emerged as a 30-passenger P&W engined Sandringham with the new c/n SH.33C for the UK Ministry of Supply. Leased to TEAL, the aircraft was registered ZK-AME on 25Jul1946, and bore the name 'New Zealand'. Arriving in New Zealand at the end of the delivery flight on 4Sep1946, it entered commercial service on the 17th.

ZK-AME on the Waitemata Harbour 24Oct1946 in early livery. Note the absence of 'RMA' above the name 'New Zealand'

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ZK-AME departed Rose Bay, Sydney, on a regular scheduled flight to Auckland at 5.25am on 3Dec1947. She carried 29 passengers (one short of a full load) and six crew, Captain Ian Patterson commanding.
Two and a half hours into the flight, the aircraft descended to 1000ft ASL due to bad weather avoidance. Shortly afterwards, the number 3 engine began to vibrate and was shut down. The aircraft was now only at 500ft. Patterson decided to return to Sydney. The other three engines were running at full power, and began to overheat. Reducing power resulted in a further height loss, and the baggage and freight was thrown overboard in order to reduce weight.
By this means, ZK-AME was able to maintain 1000ft and return to Rose Bay on three engines.

This event caused widespread concern, and a three-man commission was set up by the New Zealand Government to investigate cause. It was found that there were many deviations from proper procedures in the type certificates, the operating manuals, and in the performance data under tropical conditions. Paddle-bladed propellers from Ventura bombers had been fitted with no reference to Shorts or the British Civil Aviation authorities.
The Sandringhams were deemed to be unsafe in their present condition, and the four aircraft were withdrawn from use on 23rd February 1948 until the faults could be rectified and additional engine cooling installed.

This work was completed and the aircraft re-entered service in June.
In its later years with TEAL. ZK-AME carried the flag on its rudder and became an 'RMA' (Royal Mail Aircraft).

At the Hobsonville buoy

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On the hard at Hobsonville

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ZK-AME, ZK-AMD and Catalina ZK-AMP at Hobsonville

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At the Mechanics Bay braby

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Following ZK-AME completing the final TEAL Sandringham service Sydney - Auckland on 19Dec1949 (Captain P.J. Le Couteur and Captain LH. Parry), ZK-AME was stored at Hobsonville from 19Jan1950 until sold to Barrier Reef Airways of Australia and registered as VH-BRD on 12Mar1951. Flown from Auckland to Brisbane on the 27th April, it operated with Barrier Reef as 'Capricorn' until sold to Ansett Flying Boat Services in May 1952 and was renamed 'Princess of Cairns'.

The end came when it partially sank at its moorings in the Brisbane River during the night of 31Oct1952 after it was struck by an unidentified boat. Refloated, it was declared unrepairable and was sold to an entrepreneur who intended to convert it into a floating restaurant. While under tow to the Gold Coast 1Feb1954, it was swamped by waves and sank at sea. The wreckage was never located.

Next: NZ4101
Last edited by flyernzl on Fri Mar 02, 2012 8:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Fri Mar 04, 2011 8:32 am

Peter

WOW!! those photos are awesome thanks again for posting them. :D :D

I am really enjoying seeing Hobby (at least the main hangar/hard) in all it's glory,
plus the little bits of technical detail in some of those photos such as the
maintenance stands under the wing of ZK-AME (bow first in the hangar).
They are really neat to study and get a better understanding of the work
going into keeping those flying boats operational.

Look forward to your next post :D :D

Thanks

Alan
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Sat Mar 05, 2011 10:46 am

As the end of the Pacific War approached, the British looked at reasserting their influence in the area. Conscious of American dominance of the wartime long range air routes, they sought to establish a foothold that could be leveraged into post-war commercial aviation.

The RNZAF martime operations in the Pacific were based on lend-lease PBY Catalina flying boats. In theory, these aircraft were to be handed back to the US Navy on the conclusion of hostilities. This would leave a massive gap in RNZAF operational capability. Therefore a deal was struck where the New Zealand Government bought four new Sunderland III flying boats from the British, and would therefore be able to operate these aircraft in a transport role as and where they wished. Fitted out as military transports from new, these four Sunderlands were delivered to Oban in Scotland where New Zealand crews took over the aircraft and prepared for the delivery flight.

Short S.25 Sunderland III ML792 had been built by Shorts at Rochester, shop order no.SB4665 and was bought on charge with the Air Council on 20Aug1944. This aircraft departed RAF Mount Batten (located on Plymouth Sound, Devon) in the late afternoon of 21Oct1944 with Flt Lt Brian Layne as Captain to travel via Bathurst, Belem, Port of Spain, Banana River NAS in Florida, Corpus Christi in Texas, San Diego, San Francisco, Hawaii, Canton Island, Lauthala Bay in Fiji, and finally Auckland on 2Dec1944. This trip took ML792 124hrs 45mins flying hours.

ML792 over North Auckland on arrival, 2Dec1944

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At Mechanics Bay, still wearing the RAF colours as ML792

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Upon arrival at Hobsonville, ML792 was bought on charge as NZ4101, had the ferry equipment removed and was fitted out for military freight and passenger transport operations. The Flying Boat Transport Flight was formed, with maintenance and traing facilities at Hobsonville and operational terminal at Mechanics Bay. The name 'Tainui' was applied to NZ4101, the name of one of the original Maori migration canoes from early New Zealand settlement. These were the first four-engined monoplane aircraft to be operated by the RNZAF.

NZ4101 at Auckland in RNZAF markings prior to the name 'Tainui' being applied. Note the US-style bar markings have been added to the roundels to deter trigger-happy American gunners

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NZ4101 running number 2 engine on the hard at Lauthala Bay. The serial NZ4101 has been crudely applied over the blocked-out ML792

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NZ4101 in Pacific Area markings, unknown Island locations.

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The Sunderlands of the Flying Boat Transport Flight were mainly used on Auckland-Fiji and Auckland -Noumea-Espiritu Santo routes from February 1945 until laid up at Hobsonville in October 1945 with engine/propellor problems. NZ4101 saw some use in early 1946 training TEAL crews for the about-to-arrive Sandringhams. By June that year, with camouflage removed but still carrying military markings, it was operating on the Auckland-Fiji run mostly carrying civilian fare-paying passengers.

On the water

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NZ4101 over the Auckland Harbour in July 1946

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This service was legitimized in in 1947 when two of the Sunderlands adopted civil identities with the Government-owned National Airways Corporation, and NZ4101 was also transfered to NAC on 16Dec1947 as a spares source. The registration ZK-AMJ was reserved for use by NZ4101, but this was never adopted and ZK-AMJ was reallocated to another aircraft at a later time. NZ4101 stayed in reserve at Hobsonville until released back to the RNZAF in October 1949.

In storage at Hobsonville

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The Air Force had no use for this aircraft, and it was sold by tender dated 10Oct1949 and was scrapped at Hobsonville in December 1949. The paperwork limped much further behind, with NZ4101 being officially taken back on charge from NAC on 14Sep1952 and struck off charge on 16Dec1957!

The scrapping process was not a pretty sight. Hobsonville 29Dec1949

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The Catalina on the left is NZ4039

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The wing of ex-TEAL PB2B-1 Catalina NZ4035/ZK-AMI makes an appearance in this photo

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Next: NZ4102 / ZK-AMF
Last edited by flyernzl on Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:34 am, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Mon Mar 07, 2011 8:14 am

Hi Peter

Thanks again for those awesome photos/commentary

Have to agree the scrapping is not a pretty sight....... :cry:

Having said that studying the photos, reveals a number of things one would not
normally see with say the wings attached....

In looking at those photos of NZ4101 in natural metal,
prompts me to think of building a model in natural metal
with RNZAF markings. Now that would look really sharp :D

Thanks again

Alan
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:16 am

Short S.25 Sunderland III ML793 had been built by Shorts at Rochester, shop order no.SB46656 and was bought on charge with the Air Council on 18Sep1944. This aircraft departed RAF Mount Batten on 28Oct1944 with Flt Lt Keith Patience as Captain to travel on the same delivery route as ML792 to Lauthala Bay in Fiji, met up there with its fellows, and finally flew to Auckland on 2Dec1944. This trip took ML793 116hrs 50mins flying hours.

Upon arrival at Hobsonville, ML793 was bought on charge as NZ4102 4Dec1944, had the ferry equipment removed and was fitted out for military freight and passenger transport operations. As part of the Flying Boat Transport Flight, the name 'Tokomaru' was applied to NZ4102, the name of one of the original Maori migration canoes from early New Zealand
settlement.

ML793 in the process of becoming NZ4102 at Mechanics Bay December 1944. Note the ladder for scaling the fin!

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NZ4102 was employed on the Auckland - Suva and Auckland - Noumea - Espirutu Santo routes from February to October 1945.

NZ4102 during servicing at Hobsonville prior to the war's end

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Takeoff on the Auckland harbour

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Photo taken at Mechanics Bay, said to be January 1946 but this must be an error as the aircraft still carries full camouflage colours

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In postwar service, natural metal and RAF-type roundels

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NZ4102 was then laid up at Hobsonville awaiting resolution of the engine/propeller problems that had surfaced during Pacific Service.

NZ4102 stored on the hard at Hobsonville late 1945

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Cockpit view of one of the RNZAF MkIII Sunderlands

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Along with NZ4101, NZ4102 was reactivated to carry out training flights for TEAL aircrew in readiness for the arrival of the Sandringham boats later that year. By June 1946, it was in use for the RNZAF joint civil/military service on the Auckland - Fiji route, making its first trip on 6Jun1946. In order to regualrise this service, NZ4102 was transferred, along with NZ4103, to the Government-owned New Zealand National Airways Corporation on 16May1947. NZ4103 had already been converted to full civilian passenger layout, and worked commenced on NZ4102 at Hobsonville for its proposed passenger role as ZK-AMF.

At this point things become a little fuzzy. NZ4102 was transferred back to the RNZAF and the registration ZK-AMF cancelled on 22Dec1947. Work then proceeded on converting NZ4104 to civilian layout as ZK-AMK.
I do not believe NZ4102 ever entered service as ZK-AMF, and photographs of this aircraft in later years show it still painted up in military marks as NZ4102. I have never seen a photo of it as ZK-AMF. Other flying boats that were returned to the RNZAF after civilian use were not repainted back into military colours. I assume that some problems were found with NZ4102 early in the conversion process, and it was easier to convert NZ4104 than to fix these problems on NZ4102.

In any event, NZ4102 stayed at Hobsonville in reserve, and was later moved up into 'rotten row' on the grass airfield parked among the retired Catalinas.
In July or early August 1949, there was a major storm in Auckland, and several of the stored aircraft were blown off their pickets and smashed into each other. As can be seen from these photos taken on 2Aug1949, NZ4102 suffered damage to the rudder, fin, elevators, tail cone and port wing

The RNZAF Catalina just beyond NZ4102 is NZ4017 XX-T, while the one behind is NZ4052

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By the 29Dec1949, when this photo was taken, the aircraft had been re-fastened to its tiedowns, but the damage is still evident. It lingered in this state for several years.

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NZ4102 resting at Hobsonville, alongside various Catalinas and a C-47

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Eventually, NZ4102 was sold to the scrap merchant and cut up on site during 1955.

Next: NZ4103 / ZK-AMG
Last edited by flyernzl on Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:35 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:38 am

Short S.25 Sunderland III ML794 had been built by Shorts at Rochester, shop order no.SB46667 and was bought on charge with the Air Council on 12Sep1944. This aircraft departed RAF Mount Batten on 21Oct1944 with Flt Lt Joe Shephard as Captain to travel alongside ML792 to Lauthala Bay in Fiji, but suffered an engine failure after leaving San Francisco and thus arrived at Hawaii on three engines. After delivery and fitting of a replacement engine, it was the last of the four Sunderlands to arrive at Lauthala Bay in Fiji where it met up with its fellows. ML794 finally flew to Auckland on 2Dec1944 where it suffered a midair collision with RNZAF Lodestar NZ3514 which had been despatched from Whenuapai with a cameraman on board to film the four Sunderlands arrival. ML794 was forced into a sea landing and the indignity of a tow by a handy fishing boat to Whangarei Heads, where repairs were carried out and the aircraft finally arrived at Hobsonville on 5Dec1944. This trip took ML794 124hrs 45mins flying hours.

ML794 overhead Northland 2Dec1944, moments before the mid-air incident

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ML794 after arrival at Hobsonville. Presumably the weight-testers are the delivery crews of the four Sunderland aircraft

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Upon arrival at Hobsonville, ML794 was bought on charge as NZ4103 4Dec1944, had the ferry equipment removed and was fitted out for military freight and passenger transport operations. As part of the Flying Boat Transport Flight, the name 'Mataatua' was applied to NZ4103, the name of one of the original Maori migration canoes from early New Zealand settlement.

NZ4103 was employed on the Auckland - Suva and Auckland - Noumea - Espirutu Santo routes from February to October 1945, losing its wartime camouflage in favour of a natural metal finish after VJ day.

Moored out at Auckland

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NZ4103 on the step, Auckland harbour

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NZ4103 was then laid up at Hobsonville in October 1945 awaiting resolution of the engine/propeller problems that had surfaced during Pacific Service.

At Hobsonville late 1945

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By January 1946, civilian use for the Sunderland fleet had been identified, and conversion of NZ4103 to a 26 passenger civilian standard had started at Hobsonville. This work must have proceeded slowly, as it did not participate in the Auckland - Fiji service that operated in mid-1946 NZ4103 undertook its post-conversion test flight over Auckland on 26 Oct1946 and few days later flew to Evans Bay to operate a proving flight from Wellington to the Chatham Islands.
The pilots conducting the test flights on 26 October 1946 of 1 hour 30 min and 3 hours 45 min were Flt Lt Layne and Sqdn Ldr Mackgill.
Following this test, NZ4103 then re-entered service with the Flying Boat Transport Flight on their quasi-civil transport operations.

NZ4103 at the Mechanics Bay terminal 1947

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On 30Sep1947, NZ4103 was transferred to the National Airways corporation, along with NZ4102, and became ZK-AMG. Already converted to full civilian standard, it was able to enter NZNAC service immediately on the Auckland - Suva - Labasa route and continued reliably in service until 30Mar1949.

ZK-AMG under maintenance at Hobsonville

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Moored out at Hobsonville

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At the conclusion of NZNAC service in March 1949. ZK-AMG was returned to the RNZAF and taken back on charge as NZ4103 on 9Feb1951 - most likely a book entry in preparation for an offer of sale by tender in May 1951. In any event the aircraft remained in outside storage at Hobsonville and was re-offered for sale in late 1953 and broken up for scrap in 1954.

ZK-AMG stored at Hobsonville after the RNZAF resumed ownership

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Next: ZK-AMH
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Tue Mar 22, 2011 11:22 am

The fourth and final Short S.25 Sandringham 'Tasman' class Sunderland conversion for TEAL had been built by Shorts at Rochester as a Sunderland Mk.III c/n SB2018 and was taken on charge by the RAF as JM715 on 8Jul1943.

This aircraft saw no operational service, being held in reserve, and was converted to a Mk.V with P&W engines in mid-1945. The aircraft was returned to Shorts for conversion to civil status at Belfast in 1947, and emerged as a 30-passenger Sandringham for the UK Ministry of Supply. Leased to TEAL after demand had shown that three operational aircraft were insufficient, the aircraft was registered ZK-AMH on 29May1947, and bore the name 'Auckland'. The delivery flight from Poole to Auckland took from 15th to 29th October 1947 and it entered commercial service on 7Nov1947.

It seems that, unlike the other three TEAL Sandringhams, ZK-AMH was delivered to New Zealand with the Union Jack painted on the fin. The following photos were taken soon after the delivery flight, in late 1947.

ZK-AMH moored out, off Hobsonville, presumably during some sort of engine refit

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Under tow at Hobsonville

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Taxiing on Waitemata Harbour

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Moored on the Mechanics Bay buoy

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Following the revelation of the Sandringham engine problems, ZK-AMH was withdrawn from airline service on 22Feb1948, but following modification work re-entered service in June of that year.

By now, the Union Jack had been replaced by the more appropriate New Zealand ensign.

ZK-AMH taxiing at Mechanics Bay

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Passing one of the DSFCo steam vehicular ferries that were in regular service prior to the construction of the Auckland harbour bridge

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Moored on the Mechanics Bay buoy

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Moored on the Hobsonville buoy

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At the TEAL Mechanics Bay braby

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ZK-AMH alighting on the harbour. Note the chase boats that were an essential feature of flying boat operations.

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ZK-AMH flew its final TEAL service in December 1949, and was then stored at Hobsonville awaiting a sale.
Barrier Reef Airways Pty.Ltd., Brisbane bought the aircraft, and it was flown from Auckland to Brisbane on 27Apr1950. At Brisbane it was converted to 41 pax seating and operated as VH-BRC 'Coral Clipper' from 28Sep1950 on the Hayman Island service.
It was withdrawn from use in early 1951, but following the loss of sister ship VH-BRD it was sold to Ansett Flying Boat Services, overhauled and re-entered service in late 1952 under the new name 'Beachcomber'.
Used on the Rose Bay - Lord Howe Island service from early 1953, it continued operating on this run until the conclusion of flying boat services in this area in 1974.

ZK-AMH as VH-BRC in Ansett colours at Rose Bay

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A documentary film was made on the Ansett Island service in the 1970s featuring this aircraft. Clips from this film have appeared on youtube and are well worth watching

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j0Gqvz5Vbxs

Following the end of Australian activity, this Sandringhan was sold to Antilles Air Boats, Virgin Islands where it became N158C on 10Sep1974, leaving Sydney on the delivery flight 28Nov1974.
Registration was changed to VP-LVE in March 1976, still with Antilles, and finally back to N158C 9May1980.
Following the cessation of Antilles operations, the Sandringham was flown to the UK and bought by the Science Museum there in 1982 for display at the R.J. Mitchell Museum, Southampton, England from Jun83 as VH-BRC.

Interesting to note that all four TEAL Sandringhams are still more or less in existence - ZK-AMB underwater at Vila and apparently able to be visited by scuba divers, ZK-AMD underwater at Lord Howe, ZK-AME underwater off the Queensland coast, and ZK-AMH at the museum in Southampton.

Next: ZK-AMK
Last edited by flyernzl on Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Short Flying Boats in New Zealand

Postby flyernzl » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:11 am

ZK-AMI was not a Short product, so we won't be covering that aircraft here

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ZK-AMJ was not a Short product, so we won't be covering that aircraft here

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