Post by Peter Lewis on Jun 14, 2007 23:30:02 GMT 12
At Dave's request I have scanned an ancient article on these aircraft that was published in the December 1963 Aviation Historical Society of NZ Journal (Vol.6 No.11) written by Dave Moran. As you read this, remember that it was written 44 years ago (the Sunderlands were still our front-line sub hunters) and more info has come to light since then.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 15, 2007 0:16:10 GMT 12
Thanks very much indeed Peter.
Not a lot of this is new to my research, but a little is. I never knew that the Catalinas used a float off one as a target.
I was also unaware that there was an article in the Volume 6 of Contact, I have all the volumes now but have not gotten that far in my reading them. On pulling it off the shelf, I have just read it. It is remarkable how similar it is to this very article above, and I would hope it too was written by Mr Moran of Timaru or there is a good case for plaguerism there. Only Moran can't have written it as he misread it's intro which states the Catalinas were involved in "hunter-killer" sub missions and had done over 50 Dumbos. Moran mistook this as referring to the Singapores, which is quite wrong. The Singapore III's did General Reconnaissance work, shipping escorts and I am aware of just two cases of Air Sea Rescue missions, one of them successful, the other not finding the lost Hudson. There may be more than these two, but I've not yet discovered details of them.
I guess the earlier mentioned AHSNZ articles may also take their info from Contact.
I have interviewed the Fitter mentioned who had to make the new nut, Fred Taylor told an amazing story. I have also interviewed a Fitter on the second batch to be ferried out to Suva, only after being thrust into action against the Japs first. He was blown out of his bed by a bomb in the initial attack. I have spoken also to an Observer (Navigator) aboard them in Fiji, and two pilots who flew them - one operationally, the other as an OTU aircraft before moving onto Catalinas. So far I think these five men, and a Rigger I also spoke to but alas has suffered badly from several strokes and his memory is gone, may be the last six Singapore III crewmen alive from the RNZAF, and possibly the world. Most are in their 90's. Really neat privilege to speak with them all.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 15, 2007 0:20:55 GMT 12
I forgot to mention that the Contact article has three photos - one of the Sinapore in flight showing little detail, the second is the usual beaching photo seen in all articles, but the third I'd never seen before. It has a Singapore poking out of the Lauthala Bay hangar, taken from the port side at the nose. Lots of activity as RNZAF engineers and native Fijians clamber all around it. There's a nice clear shot of the beaching gear too.
Post by USSGOLDSTAR on Jan 6, 2008 16:02:32 GMT 12
The data above on the Singapore Mk III in NZ service is great, but just borders on what I am seeking about No. 205 Squadron operations from Seletar in December 1941. Does the record identify the Singapore making the scouting flight to the area of the battleships sinking on 10 December? The second pair of Singapore IIIs departed Seletar 13 December... should we conclude that these two became OT-C and OT-D? One can presume that the transfer from No. 205 RAF to No. 5 RNZAF may have occured at Seletar... and thus the Singapore III making the scouting flight on 10 Dec was a RNZAF bird, wearing No. 5 Sdn codes... true or false.
The operations of No. 205 during the early war months in the Far East are really scant, and working up an operational history alongside the Dutch and USN flying boats in the ABDA campaign very difficult. Any sources at your fingertips?
As far as I could tell when researching my model of the Singapore, the scouting flight on the 10th December was an RNZAF flight, (although operated on behalf of 205sqn who were not yet fully operational with the Catalina), with kiwi crews working up for the ferry flight of the last two Singapores. During this flight the Walrus amphibian from HMS repulse was spotted floating in the sea out of fuel (it was airborne when the ship was sunk) and naval vessels were directed to assist the crew. A good description of the RNZAF flying boat activities in this era is found in "Golden Age of NZ flying Boats" (Paul Harrison, Brian Lockstone Andy Anderson, Random House Publishing 1997, ISBN1 86941 299 0)
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 7, 2008 8:26:49 GMT 12
Welcome to the forum Lou,
The flight on the 10th of December was certainly RNZAF, not RAF. No. 205 Squadron had ceased to operate Singapores many months before that and were operating Catalinas.
The aircraft was captained by Don Baird.
There was no unit known at Seletar as No. 5 Squadron RNZAF. Whilst in Singapore, the RNZAF were attached to No. 161 Maintenance Unit, RAF. They conducted a few emergency patrols on behalf of No. 205 Squadron but were not strictly part of them. No. 5 (General Reconnaissance) Squadron RNZAF formed in Fiji and the aircraft still in Singapore were not part of it till they arrived at Suva and joined the rest of the squadron. Whilst the RNZAF groundstaff were part of 161 MU, the aircrew were their own unit called the Singapore Ferry Flight.
As for which aircraft became which code, this is very debatable and every book seems to ahve a different opinion. Even the crew members I've spokenm to are unsure as they never used the letter codes in their logbooks, only the numbers. They referred to them in conversation as "One-Two" or "One-Eight" (K7912 or K7918) etc. The aircraft did not wear the OT- codes till after they arrived at Fiji as far as I can find out.
After the second Ferry Flight left Seletar the remaining RNZAF airmen were attached to No. 205 Squadron for a short time. They carried out maintenance on all types of aircraft from Hudsons to Hurricanes before having to escape from the approaching Japs.
I have a lot more info on this squadron which will be in my forthcoming book when it is finally published, someday in the future. It's more detailed and hopefully more accurate than anything published previously. There have been several myths published in the past. I have enjoyed the grand assistance of well known researcher David Duxbury in sorting out the fact from fiction.
Short Singapore flying boat proved surprisingly tough; after the type was retired by the RNZAF the "Kiwis" attempted to crush one with a bulldozer only to see the dozer drive the length of the lower wing without making an impression.
Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 18, 2008 14:30:43 GMT 12
I doubt there would be much worth saving. Actually I just remembered that there may have only been one boat scuttled later rather than the two because one of the crew members told me the Americans smashed one of the Singapores up, much to their annoyance. They needed something fixed and flew it to a US flying boat workshop tender for repairs, which was berthed near an island. The crew went ashore and when they came back they found that the yanks didn't have the right material for the specific alloys used in the Singapore, and the crew chief deemed it beyond repair. He said they'd begun smashing it up by the time they returned. I need to check this story and see whether it's accurate and if so if it was wholly scrapped or if the Kiwis repaired it! He said they were very angry at the American's attitude of throw it away and buy a new one, a theme well known in the Pacific.
I remember my friends telling me while in Suva that there was an major earthquake around 1967 and it damaged the seawall- so hopefully it didnft bury what remain of the Singapore.
Does anyone know what part of the breakwater they were scuttled.
It could have been K6916 that was smashed up my the (seabee) yanks repair team., As it was damaged on Suva Harbour just after been delivered to Fiji, and that most of the engineering support was still in Singapore getting the other two boats ready.
Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 19, 2008 10:02:22 GMT 12
No it wasn't '16 that the yanks broke up, it was an operational one, it may have even been 17 and that could be how the hull became sold as a houseboat. '16 was used as a spares source for the other three after its accident, and the one that was broken up by the yanks was not done at Suva, but on an island (I have the name in my research but haven't got it to hand).