Sunday February 22 was my twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. Where I live, that’s not such a big deal. We have people living here who have been married for longer than I have been on this planet, and that’s getting to be longer than I am altogether comfortable with. Nevertheless, twenty-nine years is a personal best for me, not that I am altogether sure that is how marriages are measured either :-) . . . Anywho . . . moving right along . . .
Although I rush to assure readers that we spent a happy day engrossed in each other’s company, there was a moment when I logged on to the computer, and my goodness-golly-gosh, what a surprise was waiting there. My email box was inundated with ‘likes’ and new ‘followers’ thanks to US based fellow blogger, GP Cox – who writes about the Pacific War and other military history at https://pacificparatrooper.wordpress.com – having re-blogged two articles I had written on the Catalina flying boat. What a thrill that gave me. His blog has a very wide reach, and I was amazed to receive feedback from more than sixty people. That’s a first for me. I have done my best to thank each individually, but if I missed you, let me just say I was delighted to receive such a positive response.
My fascination with Catalinas first began in 1974. I had moved to the eastern suburbs of Sydney, near to the Rose Bay flying base which ran a commuter service to Lord Howe Island. How I longed to take an island holiday by travelling there in one of those flying birds! Unfortunately the service was withdrawn in September 1974 before I had saved enough pennies. It was a sad day for me, let me tell you. There is still a restaurant on the water at Rose Bay called The Catalina, but its website only gives a scant nod to the original history.
So I never achieved that ambition, but from time to time in my travels I stumble across Catalinas. So it was that hubbie and I chanced upon the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum in Victoria (Aust), which is the post Pacific Paratrooper re-blogged. He also included a link to a follow up story on the Black Cats and Double Sunrise Service, featuring the Catalina of our local Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Albion Park, south of Wollongong, New South Wales (Aust).
There is obviously such a love of this craft that I decided to re-feature that particular Catalina. It is about to appear at the Australian International Airshow to be held at Avalon Airport, Victoria. The Catalina will leave Albion Park tomorrow morning with two pilots, an engineer and around half dozen other support people. The flight will take four hours and fifteen minutes, and the Catalina will perform flypast and handling demonstrations on three days of the show. Below is the media release, taken from the Airshow website http://www.airshow.com.au/airshow2015.
At the end of this post, I am including the photographs provided to me last year by HARS. However, I rang my buddy as I was drafting this post, and they were right in the middle of preparing the Catalina for tomorrow’s flight. He promptly took A LOT of photos for me. I am going to include them all here in a slide show, ‘cos I guess there are some enthusiasts out there who will love to see the details of how it is currently fitted i.e. military style. You will note that it was raining here today, but not too bad. The photos include the pilot ( in blue) Gordon Glynn, and flight engineer, Jim Marshall.
For good measure, I will also throw in a few photographs of the author with a Catalina taken last September at the Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England. You will notice it is not black :-)
MEDIA RELEASE Black Cat on the Prowl
A classic World War Two workhorse, the famous PBY Catalina flying boat, will be among the many historic warbirds soaring skyward at Airshow 2015. Catalinas were used extensively by the RAAF during the War and were dubbed Black Cats because they often flew night time missions behind enemy lines. (In fact PBYs were often painted black as a night camouflage). From bases in northern Australia they would probe deep into Japanese-held territory on assignments that often involved 30 hours or more continuous flying. Catalina crews mined many harbours including Hong Kong and Manila, inserted commandos into enemy areas and rescued many downed Allied aircrew. These long range seaplanes were slow, even by the standards of the day, with a cruising speed of 200 kilometres an hour however they boasted a highly impressive range of 5,700 kilometres. They were armed with 2 x 50 caliber machine guns in blisters port and starboard and 303 machine guns in turrets fore and aft. They could also carry 1,800 kilograms of mines or bombs hung from beneath the wings. It was the same bomb load as the B-17 Flying Fortress. Catalinas were fitted with the same Pratt and Whitney engines used on the Dakota DC3, power units famed for their reliability. The Black Cat appearing at Avalon is owned by the Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) and is painted to represent RAAF A94-362 as flown by HARS member Rees Hughes. It is fitted with wheels rather than floats. The society maintains the aircraft as a flying memorial to all Australian airmen who flew these hardy, durable and versatile machines during the War. The Australian International Airshow and Aerospace and Defence Exposition will be staged at Avalon Airport 24 February to 1 March.