Aeroplane Monthly 1989-07
J.McHard - Far East assignment
Regular air/sea rescue patrols were mounted by Boeing B-17s, which used Kai Tak for overnight stops. This one was photographed on July 2, 1949. The lifeboat, wingtips, centre-section panels and fuselage bands were yellow, as were the ASR panels. All these areas were outlined with dark blue. The rest of the aircraft was in natural alloy finish - no armament was visible.
Diplomatic aircraft belonging to the Air Attache at the American Embassy in China used Kai Tak as a staging post during the Chinese revolution. C-47s and this B-17 were visitors. On June 29, 1949 this B-17 cut a corner when turning onto the taxy track and sank its starboard wheel into the soft ground.
Chinese Nationalist military aircraft were strictly forbidden to land at Kai Tak - but, in the desperate panic to get away from the advancing communists, this B-25 Mitchell with 13 aboard (including women and children) put down, apparently out of fuel, at 1500hr on December 12, 1949. It was in a dilapidated condition and it had obviously seen considerable recent action, to judge by the extensive blast scorching around the side guns. The engines, however, were very new and still showed signs of storage inhibitor. The Mitchell was hastened on its way very quickly, but its visit was a major talking point for several days.
A CAT C-46 landing at Kai Tak in October 1949 - one of the last communications flights from Canton before all China flights were suspended. The aircraft carries the fin emblem and the Nationalist flag.
In October 1949 a Chinese Nationalist military Curtiss C-46 Commando packed with refugees from Canton - believed to be government officials and families - slipped over the Colony's border and dropped into Kai Tak to refuel, causing much consternation. It left a few hours later for Hainan. The fin emblem was interesting - a yellow camel on a red disc outlined in white and with a small white cloud. The Camel carried two white pannier bags between its humps. Overall colour of the C-46 was drab green with grey undersides, white lettering and two red bands across the fin and rudder. During its short stay the passengers were not permitted to leave the vicinity of the aircraft.
In an effort to prevent the CAT aircraft from falling into Communist hands, the company was wholly re-registered in the USA. All Nationalist flags were overpainted with the Stars and Stripes and the Chinese XT numbers were replaced with N----C registrations.
On July 12, 1949 the Dakota, inbound from Canton, suffered brake failure. The pilot ran the Dak into the sea in order to avoid aircraft parked at the end of the runway. No-one was seriously injured.
Hong Kong Airways Dakota VR-HDQ being stripped in February 1950 following its ducking.
This timeworn Catalina belonged to Amphibian Airways and awaited restoration by PAMASCO. Its registration letters were painted out but it is believed that the aircraft was originally from the Philippines. The fuselage and engine cowlings were a very sun-bleached mid-blue. The wings and all tail surfaces were silver, the logo being a white crossed anchor with the letters AA in the centre. Two months after this picture was taken the Catalina was a casualty when a typhoon struck the colony.
A major servicing facility was provided by the Pacific Air Maintenance & Supply Company Ltd (PAMASCO). Their almost completed new servicing hangar can be seen behind this Catalina belonging to Macao Air Transport Company undergoing an engine change. Note the "protective" Union Jack on the fin. The aircraft was in natural alloy finish with red registration letters and company name, and had a black bottom to the hull. The picture was taken on June 23, 1949.
A Trans-Asiatic Airlines Catalina in for a service by PAMASCO on February 4, 1950. Nothing is known about this aircraft other than that it was in natural alloy with black trim.
US Naval aircraft were regular visitors and the arrival of a Martin Mariner was always a sight to savour. The photograph shows the enormous amphibian on Kai Tak’s tarmac. It presented a majestic sight as it curved into the restricted approach pattern, almost like a dirigible; floating onto Kai Tak’s runway and just about scraping its keel on the tarmac
Sea Otter RD918 on a visit from HMS Triumph, probably in November 1949. Note the lengths of iron girder serving as tie-downs.
Nothing is known about this engineless Noorduyn Norseman. It carried no owner’s identification and was presumably awaiting a replacement engine. It was silver overall with black lettering and was photographed in February 1950.
The Communists became quite agitated if armed "foreign"aircraft were allowed into Kai Tak, but this Privateer appeared with 0-5in machine-guns bristling from every turret in November 1949. Everyone felt safer after it flew out again.
Saigon on May 11, 1949, during a stopover at what was the main military base in French Indo-China at the time. The French military police became quite animated at the author's use of his camera. He had just changed a film at the time and on demand handed over an unexposed roll which the police promptly exposed to the light amidst much arm waving. In the author’s pocket, however, the exposed film contained photographs of this French Navy Siebel Si 204.