With the tropical-rainforested mountains rising in the background, Kawanishi H6K2-L J-BFOY, named Sazanami, of Dai Nippon Koku KK (Imperial Japanese Airways), bobs in Dili harbour during the third Japanese proving flight to Portuguese Timor in January 1941. At right in the distance is the tender Neishi Maru, sent from Palau in support.
Short S.23 Empire VH-ABD, named Corio, in service with Qantas Empire Airways at Karumba, Queensland, circa 1938. The brainchild of Arthur Gouge, the Empire represented a quantum leap in flying-boat design, offering previously unheard-of levels of comfort for passengers and crew alike.
When Qantas-operated Short S.23 Empire Flying Boat G-AEUH Corio, formerly VH-ABD (as seen here at Karumba, Queensland), was shot down by Japanese fighters off the southern coast of Dutch Timor on January 30, 1942, DCA ordered Qantas to cease operating through Timor and move operations westward.
In the 1940s Dili was a small and rather down-at-heel town. The largest building was the cathedral, visible in the centre of the picture directly below the “step” of the flying-boat’s float. DCA airport engineer Bill Bradfield took this photo as Empire Flying Boat Castor arrived over Dili harbour on December 29, 1940.