Question was posed to me just recently from a Finnish gent involved with Air Britain Books/Magazine.
The question posed, "Were the RNZAF MR5's ever designated MR5A's"?
To my knowledge NO.
None of my books written in New Zealand and by New Zealanders especially the "The Golden Age of New Zealand Flying Boats", mentions anything of the sort.
I have never seen it in any "Official" RNZAF litrature.
I don't ever recall my father referring to the Sunderlands as MR5A' either.
My personal thoughts are, that it was some person(s) at some point in time overseas somewhere, decided that due to the difference in radio system (Marconi) and naviagtional/radar modified to New Zealand standards, the RNZAF MR5's were now MR5A's.
Interestingly none of my books/magazines written by overseas authors make no mention of the designation MR5A
Any thoughts from the Excellent Forum Brain Trust?
A new one on me too! It has also been pointed out (by Brian Lockstone I think it was) that the RNZAF did not normally use the "MR" prefix to the local Sunderland mark number, and generally referred to them simply as Sunderland Mk. 5s, in contradiction to RAF practice, and despite the fact that RNZAF had adopted the "MR" designation for the squadron's role in the unit title. Incidentally the "FB" (Fighter Bomber) prefix used on Vampire FB. 5s in RNZAF service likewise seemed to be not applied to our earlier MK. 52, despite the obvious similarity of the two types. The definitive "bible" on the RNZAF's Sunderland MK. 5s would be the special RNZAF engineering supplement to AP 1566 (which describes all the non-standard items fitted to our aircraft as compared to standard RAF model), but to best of my knowledge no strange designation such as "Mk.5A" appears in this volume either - I would guess that this new designation is a latter day invention, and unless any authorative source for this can be quoted it is best ignored for all practical purposes. Dave H's explantion sounds pretty good to me! David D
An interesting turn of events, I received an E-mail from a gent in the UK who visited MOTAT here in Auckland earlier this year. During his visit he saw what he described as an "Official" looking piece of paper with the term MR5A on it, in reference to the changes in the equipment (ie radio equipment etc). He asked one of the volunteers who (apparently was ex RNZAF - Hobby) who said it may be due to the afore mentioned changes?
On this I have sent an E-mail to the RNZAF museum, (Barf/Nathan) to see if they can shed any light on it.