Post by Peter Lewis on Sept 16, 2006 17:52:24 GMT 12
Yes, as well as being a great pic, it showed that both boats could be at Lord Howe at the same time. As I understand it, the service was run by Ansett (with Australian Govt subsidy?) from Rose Bay, Sydney, until the airstrip at the island became operational in about mid-1974. This would have been the last scheduled four-engined flying boat service in the world. The Norfolk Island airfield was built early in WW2, so I do not believe that these boats flew to Norfolk at all. (Anyone who has been to Norfolk will know that there is absolutly no sheltered anchorage at the island even for ships, yet alone fragile flying boats. All the local small boats have to be lifted out of the water and stored on land after every voyage). As a matter of interest, the US Navy officer who was in charge of sweet-talking the residents of Norfolk Island into letting the Navy bowl over a considerable number of the island's pines to make room for the airfield was James A. Michener, later famous as the author of "Tales of the South Pacific".
The Short boat that sank at Lord Howe Island was Short S.25 Tasman VH-BRE ex ZK-AMD which went to Australia in 1950. It capsized at it's moorings in a storm Lord Howe Island 3Jul63 & was scuttled. It was this loss that prompted the sale of NZ4108 to become VH-BRF, as two boats were needed to maintain the service.
Going even further back, don't forget that the first aircraft to land (sea?) at both Norfolk and Lord Howe was DH60G Moth ZK-AKK during Francis Chichester's solo New Zealand - Australia flight of 1931.
Anyone else got more photos of the Short boats to post here?
Last Edit: Sept 16, 2006 17:55:53 GMT 12 by Peter Lewis
Post by Peter Lewis on Feb 22, 2012 19:00:35 GMT 12
Some time ago I posted a history of the NZ Short flying boats online. I will now duplicate this here in the hope that others can add to what is currently known.
There have been 31 Short flying Boats active in New Zealand.
Owned by Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NZNAC) and/or the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), this activity spanned the years 1939 to 1967.
TEAL was formed in 1939 as a joint venture between Imperial Airways/BOAC, Qantas Empire Airways, Union Airways (who operated an internal New Zealand airline) and the New Zealand Government. The TEAL Sydney-Auckland service was intended to be the final link in the Empire route from England down through the Mediterranean, the Far East, Australia and finally through to New Zealand.
The initial flying equipment for the new airline was to be three Short S.30 Empire flying boats, and these aircraft formed part of a batch ordered by Imperial Airways from Shorts.
S.30 Empire c/n S.886 was registered as G-AFDA to Imperial Airways Ltd., London in May 1939, and carried out its first flight at Rochester on the 10th of that month. It entered line service with Imperial Airways as 'Cumberland' on the 13th July to cover for a shortage of other aircraft. Returning to the Rochester works, it was initially repainted with the registration ZK-AMC, but this was corrected to ZK-AMA before departure for New Zealand on the 16th August carrying the name 'Aotearoa'. (The block of NZ civil registrations ZK-AMA to ZK-AMZ had been reserved for 'marine' aircraft use).
Arriving at Auckland on 28th August, ZK-AMA then spent several months on proving flights, not just to Australia but also to various Pacific Islands. At that time, the RNZAF had little in the way of maritime patrol aircraft. The 30 Vickers Wellingtons ordered in early 1939 had been gifted to the RAF prior to delivery, and all the RNZAF could then muster were a number of second-hand Vickers Vildebeest single-engined biplanes of doubtful reliability. The TEAL Empire boats were therefore tasked with carrying out a number of military patrol flights prior to the arrival of modern American aircraft in late 1941. ZK-AMA had a Union Jack and ID stripes painted on the aircraft from 19Mar40. Although the Union Jack appears to remained on the aircraft for the rest of its life, I have never seen a photo of ZK-AMA with the ID stripes.
TEAL commercial line operations started on 30th April 1940 when ZK-AMA flew 10 passengers from Auckland to Sydney. These flights continued throughout the war years, and this was the only non-military passenger service to and from New Zealand during those years.
ZK-AMA on take-off at Auckland in pre-war colours
A low pass over the Waitemata harbour, Auckland
Landing on the Waitemata, prewar
On the water at Lauthala Bay, Fiji during a survey flight
At the conclusion of WW2 in 1945, the service continued while plans were made for a fleet replacement and upgrade.
ZK-AMA on the taxii at Auckland in postwar colours
And the take-off run
Servicing was carried out at Hobsonville.
ZK-AMA moored at the Hobsonville buoy
On the Hobsonville slipway
Heading back to Mechanics Bay
The Mechanics Bay terminal was fairly basic, just a braby and some movable barriers
ZK-AMA carried out its 442nd and last trans-Tasman flight 0n 29Oct47, WFU Mechanics Bay 29Oct47 @ 8500hrs it was stored complete with engines and avionics at Hobsonville until sold by tender closing 21Jun48.
It was then transported down the harbour to Mission Bay beach and taken up onto the waterfront for display as a museum piece.
The caption is slightly erroneous (the Walsh School was between the road and the sea) but the photo gives some idea of the fun they must have had getting the old girl into quite a tight site.
John Rankin, who lived in the area at that time writes:
"As a school boy it was great excitement when ZK-AMA arrived off the beachâ€¦ when she first came into view she was still on the step and all four engines were running (it was rumoured that she did get airborne for a short distance in the vicinity of North Head) she then came off the step and taxied slowly towards the beach before dropping an anchor â€¦â€¦.. The TEAL tender from Mechanics Bay then went out to her and a couple of engineers removed the batteries and brought them ashore. Everyone then waited around on the beach for the Beaching gear to arrive. This arrived later than expected by which time the tide had gone out quite a bit and it was decided that the beaching could not take place that day. The TEAL tender then took Aotearoa in tow (no batteries) and towed her to her old base at Mechanics Bay for the night (she had been in storage at Hobsonville) The next day I was down at the beach early to watch the beaching which all went well and AMA was pulled up on the grass between where the fountain now is and the changing shed she then spent that night on the grass. The following day she was taken across the waterfront drive having been turned 180 degrees and settled in to her final resting place. Subsequent to this various stone work was placed around the site and a sturdy set of wooden steps were put in place for boarding. Mains electricity was connected to the aircraft by the tail on the starboard side so that navigation lights and other equipment could be run presumably with 230 volt bulbs having been fitted"
John also notes:
"To the VERY best of recollections she was NEVER used as Tea rooms that certainly was the original intention thoughâ€¦â€¦â€¦you had to pay something to have a guided tour around and the charts of her last Tasman crossing were on display etc . . . the only other thing on the site was the mini golf."
The miniature golf area was alongside the Empire boat, as can be seen in these photos. The sign reads: "A unique opportunity to inspect The Pioneer Flying Boat of the Tasman Service. See the passenger accommodation. Inspect the flight deck, the engineer's room, the observer's chart room with the chart still on the table after the last Tasman crossing. Sit in the pilot's cockpit and actually handle the controls of this GIANT AIRCRAFT! You will enjoy inspecting the intricate machinery of this masterpiece of engineering. An experience you'll never forget! A chance you'll never have again!". How right they were.
However, this opportunity did not last long. A short while later the site was required for development and ZK-AMA was broken up for scrap. I believe this was in October 1950.
John also comments on the eventual scrapping of the aircraft:
"I sometime later went off to boarding school and on coming home for school holidays one time was saddened to find that ZK-AMA was no more (scrapped). I still have a scrap book that I kept in those days and in that is a photo from the NZ Herald of the aircraft in its final resting place and a write up about it."
Extract from the NZ Herald: "OLD FLYING BOATâ€™S END Aotearoa To Be Scrapped
Mission Bay Feature
The Aotearoa veteran aircraft of the Tasman service will be scrapped next week. Breakers torches will end its career which began in August 1939 and included many miles of varied flying during the war before it became in 1948 an attraction for visitors to Mission Bay Mr H.L.Carter one of the owners said yesterday that the aircraft would have to be broken up on the site as it would be too difficult to move it. All fittings would be sold and the hull and aluminium melted. The Aotearoa was the original flagship of Tasman Empire Airways and pioneered the service on April 30th 1940. Before she made her last flight in November 1947 she crossed the Tasman 442 times and covered 1,230 000 air miles. In that time the plane carried nearly 7000 passengers. During the war the Aotearoa and its sister aircraft Awarua travelled all over the Pacific and visited nearly every island in allied hands. Both planes had a name for reliability. Although they were old they had their turn of speed. Assisted by a tail wind the Awarua made a record crossing of the Tasman in 5 hours 15 minutes in 1946 which set the standard for years. The name of Aotearoa has not left the Tasman a new and faster plane Aotearoa II makes the crossing now. Sometime next week as it roars over Mission Bay gathering height for their long flight to Sydney Aotearoa II will farewell the original Aotearoa the aircraft which helped bring Australia and New Zealand closer together.â€
Today, nothing remains at that site to show that the last of the Empire boats once resided there. The site is now a hairdressers, a Starbucks coffee shop and a Thai restaurant. Only the bus stop remains in place.
So sad, I like many here i guess were born in the wrong era and wish i could have had the oppertunity to be a passenger on one of these amazing aircraft. Has anyone interior pics? I always like knowing the interior layout (still looking for pics of mech's mainspar/sail? room for catalina). I have always loved amphibious a/c even down to the canterbury aero clubs vice pres's lil ,lakelander i think it was. Anyone remember a 1980's T.V show from the states about a guy who flew a grumman goose? i can't find the name i think the name contained "monkey" but am most likley wrong
Dave, There is a lot of detailed and organised information on the Oz and NZ aircraft here. Some quite amazing historical photographs, including ZK-AMA in its initial incorrect registration and with the hyphenated AO-TEA-ROA name. www.aussieairliners.org/shortbros/s25.html Another interesting one is this with a detailed history of the Lord Howe flying boats and Ansett. Some particularly interesting historical video footage from the links down at the bottom. A couple of snippets of ZKs but mainly VHs. members.ozemail.com.au/~telica/Lord%20Howe%20Island%20flying%20boats.html
Last Edit: Feb 23, 2012 10:02:55 GMT 12 by AussieBob
Peter, I don't believe that site shown in the photo of the Ruan Thai Restaurant is the exact location of the planes display area. I came to live in St.Heliers in 1952 and there were buildings on that corner of Tamaki Drive and Patterson Ave. at the time. I believe the site was next to these buildings and slightly nearer to the west. There is a very nice block of apartments on this site now.
Post by Peter Lewis on Feb 23, 2012 18:52:55 GMT 12
There are still two unanswered questions on the last days of ZK-AMA: - the exact location of the display site at Mission Bay - exactly when was the aircraft actually scrapped.
Shamus, I based my location on comments from John Rankin. He advised me that there was a shop on the corner of Patterson Ave/Tamaki Drive at the time, Mrs Green's dairy. As a corner dairy, this would not have been a large shop. The Empire boat was on empty land next to this shop. Also, the bus stop, is evident in both the the original photos and the current photo. Unless that has been moved over the years, the location seems to be proven. The only real way we could settle any argument over the actual position would be an aerial view or a wide-angle photo of the area at the time the aircraft was there. In the meantime, I accept Rankin's location.
If, as I deduce but cannot yet prove, that the scrapping took place in October 1950 then there would have been time for the buildings that you saw in 1952 to be built on the site.
Post by Peter Lewis on Feb 23, 2012 18:58:50 GMT 12
The second of the Empire flying boats for TEAL was launched as G-AFCZ c/n S.885 for Imperial Airways. Intended to be named ‘Canterbury’ and registered ZK-AMB, it served Imperials as ‘Clare’ from April 1939. By the time arrangements had been made for this aircraft to be delivered to New Zealand, war had broken out and aircraft were scarce. G-AFCZ was never delivered to TEAL, continued in service with Imperial Airways and later BOAC, and was finally destroyed by fire in September 1942.
The third S.30 Empire boat was c/n S.884 launched as G-AFCY ‘Captain Cook’ and first flown on 20th April 1939. This aircraft also entered commercial service with Imperial Airways from July 1939, and there was a very real possibility that it would also never arrive in New Zealand. Given the impossibility of starting an airline that only had one aircraft, high level political pressure was brought to bear and this boat finally departed the UK for delivery to New Zealand on 15th March 1940 as ZK-AMC 'Awarua'.
Captain for the delivery flight was Oscar Garden, and Mary Garden, his daughter writes: "He left Hythe with ZK-AMC on the March 15 1940 and as well as refuelling stops every 800-965km, there were 10 night stops at Marseilles, Brindisi, Haifa, Basra, Karachi, Calcutta, Singapore, Darwin, Brisbane arriving in Sydney on March 28. Due to the funeral of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Savage the 1931km flight across the Tasman Sea was delayed a few days until April 3.
With Awarua’s arrival, TEAL could now be formally established. On 26 April 1940, it was registered in Wellington as a limited liability company jointly owned between the New Zealand Government (20%), Union Airways NZ (19%), BOAC (38%) and Qantas Empire Airways (23%). The deputy Chairman A.E. Rudder regarded a company run by three other airlines on behalf of three governments as an administrative nightmare."
As with ZK-AMA, ZK-AMC was painted up with wartime ID markings, and flew maritime surveillance flights during the early war years.
ZK-AMC alighting in Auckland harbour early 1940s. The wartime ID stripes under the registration can clearly be seen, but no flag has been applied to the front fuselage at this time.
At the the mooring
ZK-AMC (nearest the camera) and ZK-AMA moored out at Mechanics Bay in wartime colours
Moored at the Hobsonville buoy
As the trans-Tasman service settled down, flights were scheduled three times a week.
More comment from Mary Garden about her father’s experiences with the Empire boats on the Tasman service: "In the long run we had a lot of trouble with them—ignition trouble, oil cooler trouble – they couldn’t cope with some of the temperatures we struck there, especially at the Australian end in summer, and mostly ignition trouble, and in fact the first few years we had a lot of headaches and some pretty good frights when the engine slows down across the Tasman. This was a kind of guinea pig stuff. It took over three years to get the bugs out and the worst part of all, especially on this over-water job, for which this kind of boat was not really originally designed, was that we couldn’t turn off the propellers. So when we had to shut an engine down, halfway across the Tasman, it wasn’t a bit funny, you know, with the load we were carrying. We had very little margin. In fact, once or twice I gave up the ghost, but we were lucky enough, got out of it.
The average for both east and west crossings was 8 hours and 45 minutes. But the shortest flight was 5 hours 50. “We kept chipping it off, we got more used to conditions and perhaps striking westerly winds. I was a great one for getting above the weather if I could and catching all the tail winds. And I also had the longest flight – that was a real horror trip, 12 hours 8 minutes, because there wasn’t much petrol left.
When we started some of the conditions were a long way from what they are today. I remember there was no radio operating from Norfolk Island to get a cross radio check, and Lord Howe wasn’t up to scratch. In fact the radio operators were good, they were pin pointers, but if you were 400 miles south of Norfolk they couldn’t pinpoint you to within a hundred miles to be sure …the weather was a big factor, the worst part was these machines – you couldn’t get up above the weather if you were heading into a westerly wind. We didn’t have the range. Nine times out of ten we used to strike weather trouble about 300 miles from the Australian coast, sometimes it almost looked like line squall stuff. I’ve had the daylights frightened out of me. Get down below them and you’d find yourself in amongst some waterspouts, and all sorts of capers. And I remember one trip I was on, I told the steward to tell the passengers ‘Tell them to have a look down below at the white caps on the water and we were going like a bat out of hell, perhaps 200 miles an hour at 10,000 feet, and you’d look down, and there was a wind just about as strong going the other way on the surface. You just couldn’t believe it.
Another thing I remember the heating services were a long long way from being perfect, half the time, when you wanted them in winter the damned thing didn’t work. I know the crews didn’t get much, if there was any heat going the passenger compartments had first call on them, and, me, liking to get out of the weather, and give passengers a smooth trip if I could, maybe 10,000 feet or 12,000, but it used to get pretty damned cold, when you’d been up there a few hours. We used to leave early in the morning from Sydney, in the dark. I can remember lots of cases where I’ve said to the steward ‘Listen, you’d better go and do the usual with the passengers,’ and that was to go down and tell them that we’re flying in very comfortable conditions, you know, smooth air, at 10 or 12,000 feet or whatever it was, but it’s getting cold. ‘If we go down to get warm to 2 or 3 thousand feet you’re going to have a pretty rough trip. Which would you prefer?’ Will we stay where we are and be a bit cold or do you want to go down? Always, of course, they’d say ‘Stay up’, you see. They used to laugh at me but after about 1943 they got the heating problems straightened out, didn’t have to bother. Another thing I can remember, it used to be a real pain in the neck, every passenger in the early days of the Tasman, they had a signed certificate to say they’d flown the Tasman, and the poor old captain had to sign every one of these blessed tickets. I signed thousands of them. And there must be a lot of them around, you know, souvenirs.
I remember, one of my early trips in the first year – I was going to Sydney and had aboard three chiefs of Defence – the Navy, Army and Air Force – and we got near this awful frontal condition off Sydney and I thought ‘Oh, I’ll give these blokes a fright, I’ll see if I can carve my way through it at about 10,000 feet,’ and there were great huge cumulus clouds – they must have been up to about 40 by the look of them, and I got inside this – it was like going into a great big cabin, a cave. Ooh ...oh boy oh boy! Lightning started, sheet lightning, and then we struck hail and these blokes were up front, you see, I got them up to have a look and I think they were getting lighter by the minute. So, actually, I was getting lighter too, so I turned tail and went down, got right down near the water and we got just about as bad a fright then. That’s when we got real line squall effects stuff. And I thought afterwards, well how damn silly, the three chiefs of the defence forces, the whole lot could have been bumped off in one crack."
Lightning strikes when the flying boats flew into thunderstorms were another spectacular accompaniment to some flights. The loud explosion and blinding flash of a strike were frightening but usually did no great harm. The metal hull enclosing the crew and passengers acted as a Faraday Cage, protecting them from any ill effects. But when lightning threatened it was essential to earth everything and wind in the 200-ft-long trailing aerial or the consequences could be unpleasant, as Oscar Garden remembers:
"We were about 400 miles from Sydney and struck one of those pretty frightening fronts they get there sometimes, with lightning flashes everywhere. So I said to the radio operator, Doug Reid, behind me, ‘You’d better earth everything, Doug.’ I automatically assumed he would wind in the aerial. The next thing, we got into this cloud mass, there was an almighty flash and we were struck by lightning all right. I said to Doug, ‘Did you earth the aerial?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t wind the aerial in’. I said, ‘You do it automatically!’ He said, ‘I didn’t know’! It was a new one on him. The lightning went up the back of my seat and burnt all the hair off the back of my head. The first officer, Chris Griffiths doused ‘the boss’ with a fire extinguisher.) The back of the seat itself was scorched and, boy, Doug Reid made sure next time he was near lightning he had the aerial in. We got to Sydney all right, but it took a few weeks for my hair to grow …"
He grew to hate flying them over the Tasman Sea because they were never built for such crossings, and they had lots of hair-rising times he said. Also, long (up to 10 hours) and boring flights which he had to make sometimes two or three times a week. Ah, but they were allowed to smoke back then!"
ZK-AMC in postwar colours, mid-1940s In the braby at TEALs Mechanics Bay terminall
Moored at Mechanics Bay, with Sandringham ZK-AMB in the foreground
The final flight for ZK-AMC was Sydney – Auckland 12th June 1947, after which she had competed 8740hrs. The aircraft was then taken to Hobsonville to be stored. Unlike ZK-AMA, all engines and other equipment were removed at that time.
In storage at Hobsonville, 1947
What you might call "A Surfeit of Shorts" at Hobsonville at that time, ZK-AMC is on the left
Sold by tender closing 21Jun48. Bought by the same entrepreneurs who later bought ZK-AMA, ZK-AMC was towed down the Auckland harbor to the mudflats at the industrial area of Panmure, beached there, and broken up for scrap by Dermott and Linn scrapmerchants of Onehunga later in 1948.