Post by corsair67 on Sept 25, 2006 18:35:27 GMT 12
I don't know too much about these Boeings, except that they were rumoured to be stored in tunnels at North Head, Auckland Harbour for years. Some people still believe they are hidden away there somewhere in an unknown space!
Most aviation historians agree that they were burnt sometime after WWII.
Yes indeed, the Walsh Bros flying school based at Kohimarama (Mission Bay) on Auckland's waterfront received the first two Boeings ever built. identified by thier fleet codes as "F" and G" they were used for a number of NZ aviation firsts. George Bolt (who went on to do some amazing things in his career) flew "F" to Dargaville (on the Kaipara Harbour, a 320km round trip) in December 1919 with NZ's first official airmail. One has to appreciate the quality of Northland roads (even until recent times) to realise the significance of getting mail on the same day it was posted!. Bishop Cleary, a Catholic minister from the Mission at Kohimarama flew with Bolt all to visit his parishes all around the upper north island, using the two Boeings. They were found to be quite reliable for the time, despite one or two episodes which were normal for the era. When the assets of NZFS were purchased by the government the Boeings (and several other aircraft) spent some time in storage at North Head before being burnt on the Devonport waterfront. Bill Boeing and Conrad Westerfelt went thier separate ways shortly after the two B&Ws were made, and Boeing had some more advanced designs on the way even before these wre completed, so in the big picture, maybe we didnt make much difference, but NZ at least started theball rolling!
If it was supposed to be easy. everyone would be doing it...
My 2 cents worth (in case it's any help) by way of a quote from Classic Aircraft of New Zealand .....
"Boeing aircraft production began in June 1916 with the flight of the first of two Boeing B & Ws, named after the initials of Boeing and the aircraft’s designer George Westervelt. After failing to sell the B & W aircraft to the US Navy, they were sold to the Walsh Brothers New Zealand Flying School in Auckland. These same aircraft later went on to set a New Zealand altitude record of 6,500 feet and make the country’s first official airmail flight in 1919."
Post by Peter Lewis on Sept 26, 2006 23:02:30 GMT 12
There were two Boeing & Westervelt floatplanes that came in to NZ in 1918. Obviously, the Walsh Brothers & Dexter Flying School was operating well before that time, so they were only here for their post-war operations. I could - and probably will - write a fairly comprehensive analysis on the disposal of the aircraft from this school, but in the meantime if you can get hold of a copy of E F Harvie's 1974 book "GEORGE BOLT: Pioneer Aviator" this will give you an almost day-by-day coverage of the operational history of these aircraft plus many great photos. Well worth a read.
Retirement is something for the young. Once you are old you never seem to have the time.
Post by Peter Lewis on Oct 12, 2006 19:38:43 GMT 12
I could - and probably will - write a fairly comprehensive analysis on the disposal of the aircraft from this school
The Walsh Bros & Dexter/New Zealand Flying School aircraft.
Following the successful construction of the Howard Wright biplane in 1911, Leo and Vivian Walsh fell out with the other members of the 'Manurewa' syndicate. The aircraft was removed from their control and finally crashed at Avondale in 1913. The brothers then came up with the idea of a flying boat as their next project. With the financial backing of car importer Reuben Dexter they built their first boat, and successfully flew it in January 1915.
With the advent of World War 1, and the subsequent demand for trained aviators, they then established a flying school at Kohimarama on the Auckland waterfront and operated from there until 1923. Their early aircraft were a Caudron F (on floats), a damaged Hamilton biplane (never repaired), one imported Curtiss two-seater flying boat and five single and two-seat flying boats of their own construction. The Walsh boats, although based on Curtiss design principles, were not particularly successful. Some of the two-seaters were unable to climb out of ground effect (water effect?) with two persons on board.
Aware of the limitations of these locally built aircraft, the partnership was reformed as the New Zealand Flying School Ltd. in 1917, and with the additional capital they sought to import more efficient machines. The two Boeing & Westervelt floatplanes had been constructed in 1916, but two years later were apparently available for export as they were then perceived as outdated machines. They arrived in Auckland on the ship 'Niagara' on the 12th October 1918 (just in time for the Armistice that ended WW1 on the 11th November) and took to the air early in 1919. Now that the demand for pilot training had ended with the Armistice, the school utilized these two aircraft for a number of pioneering cross-country flights at that time. A single Supermarine AD9 Channel was imported directly from the manufacturers in the UK, and was operational from March 1921.
Further aircraft arrived when the New Zealand Government, unable to operate many of the 33 ex-RAF aircraft presented to New Zealand by the British Government in 1920, decided to loan most of these aircraft to civilian operators. The Auckland school received six Avros and three DH9s under this arrangement. With the arrival of all of these efficient and proven machines, most of the surviving Walsh boats were withdrawn from service and stored at Kohimarama.
During this time there was no aircraft registration system in New Zealand, so from October 1917 the School had identified their individual aircraft by means of a code letter. There does not seem to be any definitive list of these codes, but I have attempted to create such a list from some known codes and a little inspired guesswork. Not all of the codes were actually used – the Avros seem to have been known by their RAF serials, and the DH9s were never flown. I believe that this is the first time such a list has been published:
Code Type Serial Fate A Walsh 1916 Flying Boat WFU & stored Kohimarama Oct18. B Curtiss 1916 Pusher Flying Boat WFU & stored Kohimarama 1920 C Walsh/Curtiss Pusher Flying Boat replica 1917 WFU Kohimarama 1920. D Walsh 1918 Flying Boat WFU Kohimarama1923 E Walsh 1918 Solo Flying Boat WFU Jan19 after in-flight engine damage, stored Kohimarama F Boeing & Westervelt No.1 "Bluebill" WFU Kohimarama 1923. Sold NZ Government 30Aug24. G Boeing & Westervelt No.2 "Mallard" WFU Kohimarama 1923. Sold NZ Government 30Aug24. H Airco DH6 DBR in gale Hutt Park, Wellington, 25/26Aug20. Stored at Kohimarama. Sold NZ Government 30Aug24 I Not used J Avro 504K H2988 Inverted on landing at Onerahi 16May21, Pilot Bob Going, WFU Kohimarama. K Avro 504K H2989 Damaged & sunk by steamer 'Alexander' Nelson 1922. WFU Kohimarama. L Avro 504L H2990 WFU Kohimarama 1923. Restored NZ Government 30Aug24. M Avro 504K H2986 Capsized on t/off Kohimarama 21Feb23, WFU. Restored NZ Government 30Aug24 N Avro 504K H5240 DBR in gale at Waihi 26May24 O Supermarine AD9 Channel c/n 1142 WFU Kohimarama 1923, sold NZ Government 30Aug24. P Airco DH9 F1252 Not used. Stored in crate. Restored NZ Government 30Aug24 Q Airco DH9 H5641 Not used. Stored in crate. Restored NZ Government 30Aug24
Notes on the above: One Avro ‘L’ was delivered as a factory 504L floatplane variant. The remainder were 504K. After the fatal crash of 504K F9745 at New Plymouth on 20th November 1920, the others were converted to floatplane operations for at least part of their operational life. 504K F9745 was apparently never allocated a letter code in its three months of activity. The Channel had its original 160hp Beardmore motor replaced with a 240hp Puma in February 1922. This replacement motor almost certainly came from the third DH9, H5546. As this action would render that DH9 unflyable, no letter code was allocated to it.
Despite strenuous attempts at establishing a commercial basis, the School operated at a financial loss in the years after the end of the war. Operational activity was steadily reduced, and finally the School ceased operations in October 1923. All surviving aircraft were then stored at Kohimarama with the exception of 504K H5240 ‘N’ which had been passed on to the NZ Aerial Transport Co. Ltd. of Longlands, Hastings, in 1921. At this time the only serviceable aircraft were reported to be the two B&W floatplanes, the Channel flying boat, and one Avro (probably H2990 ‘L’). Following further negotiations, the New Zealand Government bought the assets of the now inactive Company in August 1924.
We now need to consider the position of the NZ Permanent Air Force in 1924. This force had one operational base (Wigram) at Christchurch, nine full time personnel, and more aircraft than it knew what to do with. Auckland was a long way away and apparently equipped with aircraft that were either obsolescent or American. Neither would appeal to airmen and maintenance staff trained on the latest RAF technology and who had no prior experience with the Auckland operation. As the Auckland school had already been closed for some time, those personnel who could maintain and operate such equipment had already been dispersed. Why would anyone wish to take the trouble and expense to transport all this unwanted and nonstandard equipment all the way to Christchurch? Decisions were made. Aircraft that were potentially useful were to be taken across the harbour and stored at the navy depot at North Head, the rest of the aircraft and equipment would be burnt on-site at Kohimarama. In January 1925 the move was made. Aircraft shipped to the North Head store included the DH9s, the one complete Avro and possibly up to three damaged ones, and strangely enough, the Supermarine Channel. The remainder were classed as so much useless junk and rubbish. The stored Walsh boats, the damaged DH6, and I believe the two Boeing & Westervelt floatplanes were all burnt at the Kohimarama foreshore and the engines sold as scrap.
By 1925, the surviving WW1-era aircraft operating from Wigram were becoming worn out, and the first replacement aircraft – six new Avro 504Ks – arrived. Those aircraft stored at North Head were obviously becoming surplus to requirements. In mid-1926, they were taken out on to the beach at Torpedo Bay and burnt. The only survivor was the hull of the Supermarine Channel. Although its wings and floats were burnt at Torpedo Bay on the 22nd April 1926, the hull survived to be sold to V Findlay of Devonport in 1932 for £1 and used as boat. This was eventually burnt in 1945.
This article represents my own conclusions given the available records and much analysis. I am aware that others have also studied these events and, in some cases, reached different conclusions. Unless and until more hard data comes to light, the fate of these early aircraft will still be something of a matter of conjecture.
Sources: George Bolt, Pioneer Aviator, by E F Harvie The History of New Zealand Aviation, by Ross Ewing & Ross Macpherson Wingspread, by Leo White AHSNZ Journals, various issues 1958 – 2005 Various newspapers, 1911 - 2006