A LOW AS thread may be an idea as there are a surprising number of shots of NZ pilots/aircraft that feature on line , so there will be plenty of others lurking in the Forum. But back to the thread , the last lot of Sunderland shots will be up soon.
Post by Dave Homewood on Dec 22, 2015 7:42:57 GMT 12
Some great shots there! I am trying to workout if Q-Queenie is flying low over Wigram in that third shot (is that No. 2 Hangar,and the Clothing Store to the left? If so those barracks seem out of place and were not there when I lived there). I don't think it is Hobsonville, is it?
The very low airshow display shot of XX-A of No. 6 Squadron taken from the roof looks to also be Wigram?
I would almost be sure and confirm that is Wigram, the cover of Bee Dawson's book 'Wigram' has a row off long barracks between, this photo taken from almost the tower looking towards the back off No.4 hangar and the two building to the left are also in the correct place.
Some great piccies above, particularly liked the view taken inside the (factory?), note that the aircraft in background already has the early ASV aerials on the fuselage. Would have thought they would have been fitted somewhat later, but there you are! Also excellent view of some mainplanes taking shape in the foreground, and the head on flying shot is a beauty. David D
The photo of XX-A passing by very low at Wigram almost certainly taken on 10th March 1956 at the open day held on this date (officially "Operation North Wester"). The Sunderland was flown by F/L E J E Tompkins, from Hobsonville. However this identification needs confirmation. I remember seeing a Sunderland flying fairly low over Wigram in about 1965/66 - had never seen one in life before, but not too difficult to identify! The Wigram diary recorded the types of aircraft that were on display this day (including an RAAF Neptune and Canberra, and an RAF Canberra and Valletta), plus much support from the local air force (including a brace of Vampires and three Bristol Freighters). There were 26 photographs in the Wigram history (they went crazy!), so I will check if that Sunderland shot was one of them. The weather that day looked pretty good - clear, sunny, and probably quite hot. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Jan 25, 2016 14:49:55 GMT 12
Would I be correct in thinking that by 1965/66 the XX codes would have been dropped, as they'd reduced Sunderland usage to just No. 5 Squadron by then, and no squadron codes were worn any more, ruling out that it might be when you sighted your one David? Or am I wrong?
Yes Dave, you are right, the two-letter codes were long-gone by then. I put in the bit about me seeing a Sunderland in the same vicinity about ten years later for purely gratuitous reasons. I think the XX and KN codes disappeared in about mid-1959. David D
Dave, Hope the following helps set the scene, and is almost self-explanatory; the final flight of 3/9/57 would seem to be tying up the loose ends - couldn't leave these boys languishing in the tropics!
2/8/57; Authorization of the disbandment of the four Territorial F/GA Squadrons (Nos. 1 to 4) and No. 6 (Maritime) Territorial Squadron, all “to be disbanded w.e.f. 1/8/57.” ( “The White Paper ‘Review of Defence Policy’ states that to be effective the operational element of the Air Force must be equipped, organized and trained in peacetime for immediate action in war. This concept requires a change from the pattern of a peace time nucleus upon which to expand in war, to that of a force in being composed mainly of regulars. Territorial Air Force squadrons cannot be fitted into this new pattern” (etc., 1¼ pages notes) (Ref. AI 34/1957, cancels AI 42/1955; as amended by AI 45/1957; cancelled by AI 19/1958).
3/9/57; Final flight by a 6 Squadron crew (captain F/O McGrath), in Sunderland NZ4120, Lauthala Bay (Fiji) to Hobsonville. This flight mentioned in 5 Squadron unit history, with no further comment!
Needless to say, 6 Sqdn and the MOCU at Hobsonville both used the same aircraft, which were effectively "pooled". With disbandment of 6 Squadron, the MOCU became the sole operating unit, although it changed its name to Maritime Reconnaissance & Support Unit (MR&SU) as from 1st April 1962.
After reading Peter's post (below) I can see that NZ4118 was transferred to long term storage at Hobsonville as from 11/10/57, so likely never flew again. In the light of this, and all other facts being equal, it is probable that this is the aircraft in the photo. However a quick check of the MOCU/6 Sqdn history should sort it out completely.
Post by Peter Lewis on Jan 25, 2016 17:26:19 GMT 12
XX-A was carried bt two Sunderlands - NZ4118 and NZ4114,
NZ4118 was one of the first RNZAF Sunderlands to be withdrawn from use and held in stored reserve in the Number 3 hangar at Hobsonville, it was never assigned a single code letter.
NZ4114 was intially XX-C and became XX-A presumably after NZ4118 was withdrawn. Became 'P' in later life. NZ4114 was one of the last operational Sunderlands with the RNZAF, being withdrawn from use in January 1967.
The XX-A photo was probably at the same event as these Don Noble photos, and thus would have been NZ4118:
The ORB of MOCU confirms that the Sunderland which made the flypast over Wigram on 10/3/56 was definitely NZ4118, and flown by F/L E J E Tompkins. I checked the 24-odd photographs in the Wigram ORB of this date as a double check, but would you believe it, no photos of the Sunderland appeared; regardless of this, there is absolutely no doubt that it was the one present. Incidentally the four photos posted by Peter immediately above also appear to have all been taken on this same occasion.
On a similar theme, and harking back to a photo of another Sunderland pictured at Lyttelton (and posted on this thread on 30th November), the MOCU at Hobsonville also got involved in a couple of interesting deployment in September and October 1957. This was Operation Proving Ground, although the exact reasons for mounting these flights are not explained in the unit history - perhaps the routine nature of many of their normal activities was becoming a little boring. It is thought that all of these locations had been visited previously by Sunderlands or Catalinas, so none of this could be called "pioneering" activity, but perhaps the "Proving" aspect involved these crews in checking that not too much had changed in the intervening years, and notes could be taken to update the RNZAF's records on conditions in the harbours or lakes for possible future use.
The South Island section of this adventure took place between 20th and approximately 26th September, with our friend F/L E J E Tompkins again as captain, aboard NZ4113 with his crew, and visiting Nelson, Picton Lyttelton, Akaroa, Port Chalmers, Bluff, and then Lakes Wakatipu, Wanaka and Te Anau. It was definitely at Lyttelton on the 21st, as this was recorded in Wigram's ORB, having arrived here from Picton.
The North Island section was flown between 4th and 10th October by F/L B J Dwyer & crew aboard NZ4113, calling at Russell (Bay of Islands), Whitianga, Tauranga, Taupo, Rotorua, and Evans Bay. All in all this must have been a very pleasant cruise for both of these crews, and something interesting for the locals too.