Aviation Historian 17
-
P.Vabre - Paper Trails in the Sky
The CAB’s UK representative, Senior Inspector of Aircraft T.E. "Tommy" Johnson (right), confers with Charles Kingsford Smith while standing on a strut of the latter’s Fokker trimotor Southern Cross.
The Short Bros factory at Rochester, Kent, photographed in November 1937 by Australian Civil Aviation Branch (CAB) aeronautical engineer R.S. "Russell" Robinson. Having its final touches applied in the centre of the photo is Qantas Empire Flying Boat VH-ABB Coolangatta, with an early production Sunderland Mk I to the left.
The mail is brought ashore from an Empire Air Mail Scheme Short Empire Flying Boat in 1938.
In homage to the popular hand-coloured postcards of the era, the author has coloured this 1938 shot of IAL Short S.23 G-AEUD Cordelia at Bima in the Dutch East Indies.
An original hand-coloured postcard of the first S.23 to be delivered to QEA, VH-ABB Coolangatta, possibly on its delivery flight, at Townsville, Queensland, in March 1938. The aircraft was delivered with its Australian registration despite not being officially registered there; at this stage it was still technically G-AFBK.
Following Britain’s isolation in 1940, Qantas began to develop its own overhaul capability, although most were performed by BOAC in Durban until that, too, was cut off in 1942. Seen here is G-AFPZ Clifton, operated by BOAC (formed in November 1939 with the merger of IAL and British Airways), in the hangar at Rose Bay circa 1941.
The Short Bros factory at Rochester, Kent, photographed in November 1937 by Australian Civil Aviation Branch (CAB) aeronautical engineer R.S. "Russell" Robinson. Having its final touches applied in the centre of the photo is Qantas Empire Flying Boat VH-ABB Coolangatta, with an early production Sunderland Mk I to the left.
The first two Empire 'boat deliveries for QEA - VH-ABA Carpentaria and VH-ABB Coolangatta - had their Australian registrations applied at the factory and were probably never repainted with their British registrations. However, the third delivery, G-AEUG Coogee, seen here at moorings on the Shaft al-Arab at Basra during this period, is clearly marked with its British registration.
A surprisingly small crowd watches the first Short Empire Flying Boat to be beached at Rose Bay as G-AEUE Cameronian is towed up the newly-completed slipway in the eastern suburb of Sydney on January 25, 1939. With its opening, Rose Bay became the only slipway suitable for beaching Empire ’boats east of Singapore.
Qantas Empire Airways’ VH-ABF Cooee is hauled ashore at the Singapore land and marine airport at Kallang in the early days of the war. Although the slipway at Rose Bay was completed in January 1939, there was still no other location to beach an Empire ’boat along the 4,692 miles (7,550km) between Singapore and Sydney.
Although most of the heavy maintenance on the Empire ’boats, including the Australian examples, was initially completed in England, it was sometimes necessary to undertake work in Australia. Here the port outer Pegasus of an Empire 'boat is changed at Rose Bay in late 1938. The new engine has been floated out to the flying-boat on a raft and the aircraft’s own derrick has been rigged to lift it into the nacelle.
When the hangar at Rose Bay was completed in late 1939, maintenance could at last be performed indoors out of the weather. Here the starboard inner Pegasus of one of the six original Qantas-owned ’boats is changed at Rose Bay. Note the work platform slung from fold-out sections of the wing leading edge; “health and safety” was rather different in those days!