I wonder if any of our members have information, or know where I can obtain information, about motor launches used by the RNZAF at Auckland (presumably Hobsonville) during the early part of the war.
A friend of mine currently owns a launch called "Tasman" which was built in 1932 and was used by the RNZN during 1943 as a NAPS (Naval Auxiliary Patrol Service) launch based in Auckland. Interestingly, the naval records show that "Tasman" was "..transferred from the RNZAF in December 1942..." and then re-fitted before taking up its naval service. We presume that it was based at Hobsonville during its RNZAF service, but we have been unable to find any information about its time with the RNZAF.
"Tasman" was one of many civilian vessels loaned by their then owners to the RNZN and RNZAF? for war service. For any one interested there is quite a lot of detail about the RNZN NAPS launches in the book "New Zealand Naval Vessels"by R.J. McDougall published in 1989.
There most certainly were RNZAF motorboats. A good account is "RNZAF marine craft; a brief survey 1929-1967" by D J Duxbury in the Journal of the Aviation Historical Society of New Zealand 38(2): 20-26 (1995). I have a copy if I can figure how to upload it, if that doesn't breach copyright.
My late father Roy Matheson was in the marine section in WW2, and in later years was active in the marine section association. He was one of the prime movers in restoring W88, which is now in the RNZAF museum at Wigram. The attached photo is from 2006 and shows that timber movement has opened up a few cracks.
Colin Armiger was a chief conspirator with Dad in the W88 restoration; nice to know he's still around, thanks Dave H.
Hi Apteryx, Many thanks for the information re the article in the AHS Journal. It would be great if you are able to post it here. I have sent an email to Colin Armiger but no reply as yet. I will also check with the Wigram Museum to see what they have in the way of photos. Great to see that W88 has been preserved and that your late Dad played a part in its restoration. As a teenager living at Westmere in the late 1950's I remember spending hours watching the Sunderlands practising take-offs and landings on the Waitemata Harbour between Chelsea and Kauri Point when the wind was from the west or east, with patrol launches like W88 in attendance. Occasionally there would be night flying in the same area with a long flare path laid out. Thanks again and I'll let you know how I get on. Thanks also Dave H. for the contact John
Those Air Force boats were very powerful. They regularly commuted between Hobby and Beach Haven and one of our favourite pastimes as kids was to leap into the water immediately behind them as they left the wharf. Great fun and probably quite dangerous. We were allowed to do such things in those days!
Hi, My Dad (Harry Duncan) was in the Marine Section 1944 - 1945, in the Pacific. I have been researching the boats with a view to drawing them up and making models of them. Anyone with any information they wish to share would be most welcome to contact me and/or post on the forum. Visited W88 last year, and have a few photos, as well as a tiny plan of the 37'-6" original, from which I'm drawing up a full set of plans. Hope to be able to do similar with some of the other boats, especially the ones which still exist. cheers vnkiwi (HarryD)
A message to Dave Homewood in regards the final closure to NZ 4117 flying boat that was damaged in Tarawa and returned to Laucala Bay were my dad tendered for scrap metal, cut it up, melted down and sold the ingots to Comalco in Australia. Great to read the story , thak you. Cheers Peter Hawthorne
Given the interest here in RNZAF motorboats I thought it would be helpful if David Duxbury's article could be made available to a wider audience.
Thanks to David Duxbury (and the AHSNZ) for being agreeable to this, and the RNZAF Museum for allowing further dissemination of the photographs. According to the museum the references for the photos in the order they appear in the article are: RNZAF Official, PR1595 RNZAF Official, LbG490~52 RNZAF Official, PR337 RNZAF Official, LbG482~52 Air Force Museum collection, MUS931562T
Many thanks apteryx for your efforts in getting approval to post David Duxbury's article on RNZAF Marine Craft and the accompanying photographs. I certainly had no idea that there were so many vessels involved with the RNZAF during the period. While there is no specific mention of my friend's launch "Tasman", I know that he will be very interested to read David's fascinating article. It is great that our forum has such a diverse range of interests amongst its membership and is able to find information on just about any subject!!
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 1, 2011 12:25:19 GMT 12
Thanks for posting this article Andrew, like anything that David writes, it was well worth reading.
Have you seen The WAAF Book by Bathia Mackenzie? There's a two page piece in there on the 'Mermaids', the WAAF's who worked on the motorboats at Hobsonville under Flt Lt 'Popeye' Thorne. Two photos of their motorboats too, one has 197 on the side.
Thanks for the feedback on the article. I haven't seen the WAAF book, Dave.
I remembered that I had this article from my father's papers about the shipwrights who worked on the boats, of whom he was one (and is mentioned in the article). Sorry it's undated (and a rather poor copy).
I can remember working on a number of the survivors when I was at Whenuapai 1966-69. Whenever a servicing was due or a repair neccessary, I would trudge over to Hobby and do the work. There were the high speed launches, a refueller, a couple of general purpose boats (that also did the Beachaven run) and the bomb launch. Great fun going out on post servicing test trips on the HSL's. When I returned to Whenuapai in 1970, they were still operating the GP boats at least as I used to get to work from North Shore on them during 1972.
I have in my possession a manuscript which I believe is unpublished and which I thought I had lost. It is an autobiographical account of one man's time in the Marine Section during WW2 and it is a darned good read. Almost 100 fully packed foolscap pages plus photos. Unfortunately I don't know the authors name because it was almost certainly only written for family and he understandingly refers to himself as "me" in photos. Because it is a copy of a copy the photos are poor but interesting.
I was talking to Larry about it at Cambridge and he had not heard of it so I started seriously looking and upgraded my search again in view of this thread.
Today I found it! I will give some information when I have had a chance to re reread it as my first read was long ago. In relation to David's article I don't think it mentions my author's favourite command, a 50 foot seine net fishing boat named "Zuyder Zee" or a 40 foot bridge deck cabin craft called "Teresa May".
I will also write to Colin Armiger to see if he can help identify the author.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 2, 2011 15:58:33 GMT 12
When I was at Hobsonville in 1990-1991 there were two ex-wartime ex-RNZAF launches moored there all the time, opposite the wharf. I was told they had been sold to private owners who from memory were RNZAF personnel, and were now pleasure boats. They were still in RNZAF style colours. I wonder where they are now, and how many other survivors there are around the place.
I am at present building a scale (as near as possible given the rarity of information on the type) British Power Boat 64 HSL as mentioned in the article by D.J.Duxbury. I was fortunate to have a first hand look at the NZ craft when it was on a private slip above the Panmure bridge in Auckland during the late 60s after being disposed of. As teenagers a friend and I sneaked on board to have a look as we were both mad keen on PT boats and the like. It was still in its service condition and even had a picture of a number of 100 series in line off the stbd rear quarter riding over each others wakes on the wall of the stairs going down to the ward room from the wheelhouse. I was impressed by the alloy stair treads which had "British Power Boat" cast into them in the company advertising lettering style. I remember mahogany louvered doors to both the wheelhouse and engine room access next to it and the large stainless or chromed wheel with the twin throttles (it had been fitted with twin Greys diesels by the Airforce (presumably, as they had stiff well painted canvas covers over each engine and looked to have been in place for a while.) I did not notice any evidence of another engine having been in the center rear position (origionally run forward through a v-drive) recently as there was a clear passage through the engine room to the bunk room aft. I would say it had been in that configuration for some time. The boat had from the bow aft (from memory) a chain locker, head, bunk room, (2doubles), mess or ward room with lockers, up to the wheelhouse, out the rear stb side and right to access engine room through small covered access and down a vertical ladder, through engine room to second bunk room (again 2 double bunks) and finally another head. This was a magic experience for us, as keen as we were on this type of craft and I can still remember it today quite clearly as it made quite an impression on me at the time. The boats' owner had a few attempts to construct cabins on the deck in the early 70s but due to the very fine stern section she didn't like too much weight aft. He finally settled on a modern tall Vindex style set-up which she still has today. She was named Carroma and used I believe as a dive- fishing charter boat and was recently moored at Bayswater marina. I had a wander past her and she still looks in good nick for her 71 years! As I recall when we originally went on board she was white with a varnished mahogany wheelhouse and varnished lazeretts (skylights) She is still white today. I will try and upload a photo I took of her (modified) in the early 70s I also have a photo of "Jaguar" a seaplane tender which was moored at Bucklands Beach around the same time and was in beautiful condition. I think she was owned by the Hanson family of Hansen Engineering?, (one named "Greyhound" also belonged to a member of the Subritzsky family, either Basil or Bert) I spent a week in the marine section in 1970 whilst in the RNZAF and the seaplane tenders were still being used for target towing and transport. From memory they were powered by twin GM 2 stroke diesels at that time. I'm still attempting to find a picture of the NZ 64 footer as I have an idea the wheelhouse was different from the British boats so if anyone has a picture I would be keen to see it.
Hi, As far as I am aware, W1 was the same as its sisters back in the UK. I have been researching W1 for the past 12 months, and have visited her on 3 occasions over this time. I am in the process of drawing up plans of how she was, and how she was modified when first sold into private hands. Also how she will be when she enters the water again after her present extensive refit. I will be visiting her again early next week, to measure up the deck and superstructure, the hull I already have drawn. Let me know if you still require drawings, and at what scale. regards vnkiwi