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Thread: BOAC Liberator II Landing At Prestwick

  1. #181
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    I don't know if the above article (post # 177) contained any photographs (it was less common in the magazine back then) but I have located an image of the cover (not the best quality, I'm afraid):
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 23rd May 2017 at 13:04.

  2. #182
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    This is a post-war BOAC advertisement. It's not about the North Atlantic service but it is interesting because it refers to the end of the Government restrictions on air travel that applied in WWII:
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  3. #183
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    There was discussion, a while back, about whether BOAC Liberators bore civil registration numbers or military serial numbers. Here's a Catalina wearing both:
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  4. #184
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    Don't look at the Catalinas for examples of 'correct' markings. BOAC aircraft, operated by (mostly) QANTAS crew, with a lot of organisational (and probably engineering) help from 413 Sqn RCAF. That aircraft was certainly 'borrowed' by 413 to help get the service running, as there were initially insufficient BOAC/QEA/QANTAS crews to operate the flights, which may explain the retention of the military serial. Others may have had equally confused ownership.

  5. #185
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    Thank you, lazy8, for your contribution. I wasn't really suggesting that there was a 'correct' style, only that here was an example of both forms of 'identification' on the one aircraft. Your postng prompted me to do a little more digging.

    As I understand it, all five of the Catalinas owned by BOAC but operated by QEA across the Indian Ocean, carried both civilian registrations and military serial numbers, in addition to being numbered '1' to '5' (the example in the photograph being '2', the second Catalina allocated to the BOAC/QEA service). Furthermore, in recognition of the need for radio silence and thus reliance on astro-navigation, they were each named after southern hemisphere stars.

    I was aware that their flights across the Indian Ocean took more than 24 hours; I was not aware that,in extremis, they could be airborne for up to 36 hours, The longest flight duration was just over 31.5 hours.

    The Catalina in the photo (No.'2') made the first 'commercial' crossing in July 1943, but it was apparently No.'1' that undertook the proving flights. These had started in late-1942, using military crews; were these crews from 413 Squadron?

  6. #186
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    This post is a touch tangential but it does mention Catalinas in Western Australia, so I hope you will allow me a little leeway. I’ll start with a bit of background.

    Some years ago, I found myself in the company of Mickey Jones, who is a rock(‘n’roll) drummer. In his career, he played behind Trini Lopez, Johnny Rivers and Kenny Rogers, amongst others. Mickey was Trini Lopez’s drummer when they were on the same bill as The Beatles during a three-week stand at L’Olympia in Paris in early 1964 - two or three shows per day! For a few months in 1966, Mickey was on tour again, drumming behind Bob Dylan. The Australian leg of that tour ended in Perth, Western Australia, and the European leg was due to start in Stockholm a few days later but the Australian government had requisitioned QANTAS’s aircraft to ferry their troops to Viet Nam. The touring party found themselves hanging around Perth for a few days waiting for a BOAC flight to Europe.

    Mickey used the spare time to follow up a family matter. His father had flown PBYs in WWII, based just north of Perth. After making a few enquiries, Mickey not only visited the site but also managed to get some WWII photographs taken there from a local newspaper. On his return to the United States, he was able to pass these photographs on to his father.

    If there is a moral of this tale, it’s probably that similar photographs may be out there, still to be found in slightly unexpected places.

    To end on an aviation matter, the touring party left Perth on BA715 at 3 pm on 26 April 1966, stopping at Singapore, Rangoon, Delhi, Beirut and Zurich - 45 minutes on the ground being scheduled at each stopover. At Zurich, however, they got off the 707 and waited for an SAS flight (via Copenhagen?) to Stockholm, where they arrived, by Caravelle, at 4 pm on 27 April 1966
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 1st June 2017 at 09:42.

  7. #187
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    Click image for larger version. 

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    The first two of the five named and numbered Catalinas used on the Double Sunrise route, G-AGFL Vega Star and AGFM Altair Star were delivered to Ceylon by BOAC crews in the latter half of April 1943, so would not have been on trial flights in 1942. Quite why they and their sisters retained their military identities as well is not clear, although I can't help wondering if it is in some way connected with the the biggest puzzle about the service, that while all others who flew and flew in the Cats were covered by the Geneva Convention, the QANTAS crews were not. Much good it might have done them in reality, but it is curious that there was a distinction. I don't have sight of those records, but I'm told that AGFM is the only BOAC Catalina to appear on 413's record books as being 'theirs' for a while, with the note that is was a borrowed aircraft to help set up air transport routes between Ceylon and Australia - however, BOAC's records regard the aircraft as being under QANTAS control for the duration of their time in Ceylon...

    As to which military units flew the trials before the BOAC aircraft arrived, if it was at Squadron level it would appear to be a toss-up between 205 Sqn RAF and 413 Sqn RCAF. Both were on site at the right time with the right aircraft. 205 had recent experience of evacuating people from Singapore and the Dutch East Indies, which I suppose might have been thought relevant. Given 413's later involvement though, I would expect it was them, although I know of no documentary proof.

    The photo, scanned from inside the back cover of Volume 2 of Larry Milberry's Canada's Air Force at War and Peace, shows Catalina G-AGIE at Koggala. It is captioned simply "a 413 Catalina at base in Ceylon", although as I said there does not appear to be any documentary proof that 413 officially took the aircraft on strength. I can't make out whether the military serial is on the base of the fin or not. The aircraft does still appear to have the red portion of the underlining to the registration, and perhaps the fin flash, and there's no tail number and no name on the nose (AGIE was Antares Star), so I wonder if she's only just been delivered in this picture.

  8. #188
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    This is getting a long way from Prestwick Liberators but Catalinas 1, 2 and 3 (G-AGFL, G-AGFM and G-AGID) operated intensively between Poole, Foynes, Lisbon and West Africa between November 1942 and January 1943 before their transfer to Ceylon. Source, Peter Berry's Foynes and Botwood logs.'4' G-AGIE does a few trips between Poole, Foynes and Lisbon in August 1942 before transfer to Ceylon. No mention of '5'/ G-AGKS
    Last edited by longshot; 1st June 2017 at 12:42.

  9. #189
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    G-AGID wasn't on the civil register or delivered to BOAC at Hythe until mid-July 1943, so it wasn't on any winter 42-43 service. AGFL and AGFM flew seven and six services respectively to Lagos before being withdrawn for preparation for deployment to Ceylon.

  10. #190
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    Yes, I was wrong about G-AGID. Peter Berry's log for Foynes refers to Catalina's 1, 2 and 3 in November and December 1942 but by January1943 he identifies them as G-AGDA (1), G-AGFL (2) and G-AGFM (3).(I wrongly assumed the Foynes 3 was G-AGID) When they transferred to Ceylon I believe G-AGFL was marked 1 and G-AGFM marked 2. See attached Foynes log extract (EDIT, different extract)Click image for larger version. 

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  11. #191
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    Let me start by owning up; ‘twas I who span this thread off on to Catalinas in the Far East. I plead that it was inadvertent in that I only intended to draw attention to the simultaneous bearing of both civil registration and Air Ministry serial numbers on these BOAC/QEA Catalinas.

    Moving on, I just love it when I find out about things I didn't know before and especially when it prompts me to examine why I had particular thoughts in my mind.

    In respect of the proving flights, AJ Jackson wrote (in 1959), “….‘FL made the first of a number of proving flights to Swan River, Perth, Western Australia, with an R.A.F. crew on 3 November 1942”. Peter Moss (in 1975) said the same and in very similar words, “From Ceylon, G-AGFL (not then named) made the first of several proving flights to Swan River, Perth, on November 3, with an RAF crew”. It is quite possible that one drew on the other or both drew on the same source - whichever, I drew on both and, if both were wrong, then subsequent research has presumably overtaken their assertions.

    HMSO’s “Merchant Airmen” refers to, “ … some Catalina flying boats, seconded from military duties with the R.A.F., …… flown from Britain by crews of British Overseas Airways and handed into the charge of an R.A.F. squadron at the flying-boat station of Kegalla, in Ceylon”, followed by a lengthy description about how idyllic “Kegalla” (sic) was: “everything is sunshine and the southern seas”. It then goes on, “The R.A.F. squadron flew the first seven experimental flights in the Catalinas between Ceylon and Perth, Western Australia”. Since "Merchant Airmen" was prepared by the Ministry of Information, it may not be regarded as an historically authoritative source but it reads as though the RAF used the BOAC Catalinas for the "experimental flights".

    As regards the photo of G-AGIE, that certainly looks like an RAF fin flash to me but it looks a touch smaller than the fin flash on the Catalinas when they became 'numbered'; maybe that's just my imagination. I cannot see a military serial number there, either.

    G-AGKS arrived quite late on the scene and, after half-a-dozen flights, suffered fuel leaks. By the time this problem was resolved, Liberators had taken over the route.

    There we are; I've got us back to Liberators again.

  12. #192
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    Having spun this thread off in other directions in the past, I was in a quandary as to where to place the following but thought it might be more relevant to this thread. I hope it may be new to you.

    It is entitled, "History of the Air Transport Command in Central Africa and the Middle East" and largely consists of microfilm copies of original U.S. documents.

    There is a lot here; Part II is very long - 1742 pages. It was John Wilson, a name that has popped up here before, who undertook the task of restoring these documents and making them available for study by others. To him should go any credit.


    http://www.wasc.org.uk/WASC_addl_pubs_ATC_history.html

    Scroll down and click each of the links at the bottom

    WARNING: Part II is a huge file (almost 573 MB) - slow and not always easy to download.
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 6th June 2017 at 15:18.

  13. #193
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    An overdue bump for this Liberator/LB-30 thread....there are a few interesting SDASM/flickr pics of LB-30s about to be converted to transports in 1944 here... EDIT 19July https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...-posted/page7/ mostly went to Consairways I think
    Last edited by longshot; 19th July 2017 at 20:34.

  14. #194
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    Couldn't access 'flickr' but found the images through the SDASM site. I assume that, as they are on the San Diego site, the conversions were done at the Consolidated plant there.

    If Consolidated photographed these particular Liberators before conversion, did they photograph them all, I wonder?

    I assume that the RAF serial numbers were applied on arrival at San Diego for conversion. Does anyone know for sure?

    And Matt, if you should see these two posts, it would be great if you could post the histories of these aircraft. I haven't checked back on your previous postings but the SDASM photos show the following aircraft prior to conversion:

    AL594
    AL628
    AL631
    AL637
    AL639
    AL640
    AL641

    It's a big ask, I know, but it would be very interesting to see their histories here.

  15. #195
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    Those LB-30s served with the USAAF with the RAF serials having been diverted from the British production I believe...sorry the link I posted becomes obsolete as more photos are added to the SDASM/flickr site , they're currently here https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...-posted/page7/ and here's a sample https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...118681/sizes/l
    Last edited by longshot; 19th July 2017 at 20:33.

  16. #196
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    When I go in directly through the 'flickr' links, I only get an invitation to sign up for YAHOO. which I don't want to do. However, when I went through the SDASM Archives page and clicked the 'flickr' link, I had not such problem. This is the page I got and I then had to click the highlighted '[I]flickr[I]' link, click on the first image and then go quickly through the images until I got to the Liberators in question - more laborious for sure

    http://sandiegoairandspace.org/colle...age-collection

    This may get you straight through to the first image in the image collection. If so, just right-click until you come upon the first of the Liberators:

    https://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasma...n/photostream/



    Also, looking back through this thread, I notice that the 'photobucket' images are no longer available.
    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th July 2017 at 11:05.

  17. #197
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    This may be easier way:
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    Last edited by ianwoodward9; 17th July 2017 at 11:15.

  18. #198
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    Oops! Missed one.

    Clicking on the above images should make them the size of this one:
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  19. #199
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    Hi, Ian,

    Not a big ask! Here are the histories:

    AL594 c/n 92; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; intended for
    UK but to Consolidated Aircraft 16.5.42; modified to transport C-87
    configuration; used by Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific route
    (Consairway Airline) under contract to Ferrying Command (later
    ATC); ATC Pacific Wing 1.5.43; dumped at Kingman, AZ, by 2.47
    and scrapped there.

    AL628 c/n 126; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; accepted
    20.12.41; TOC by USAAC 29.12.41; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at
    Fairfield Air Depot, OH; US 397 BS, 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama,
    Blonde Blitz; retd to USA 5.44; conv to C-87 at Nashville; used by
    Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific route (Consairway Airline) under
    contract to Ferrying Command (later ATC); returned to US 7.1.46; to
    RFC Walnut Ridge, AR 1.2.46 and scrapped.

    AL631 c/n 129; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; accepted
    20.12.41; TOC by USAAC 29.12.41; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at
    Fairfield Air Depot, OH; US 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama; wrecked in
    forced landing on beach at Buenaventura, Colombia, 14.4.42; SOC
    10.6.42.

    AL637 c/n 135; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; TOC by
    USAAC 31.12.41; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at Fairfield Air Depot,
    OH; US 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama; Southern Cross Airways,
    Seventh Heaven; retd to USA 5.44; conv to C-87 at Nashville; used
    by Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific route (Consairway Airline) under
    contract to Ferrying Command (later ATC) Miss Behavin'; returned to
    US 7.1.46 to RFC Cincinnati 31.1.46; scrapped.


    AL639 c/n 137; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; TOC by
    USAAC 5.12.42; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at Fairfield Air Depot,
    OH; 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama, Princess Sheila; retd to USA 5.44;
    conv to C-87 at Nashville; used by Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific
    route (Consairway Airline) under contract to Ferrying Command
    (later ATC); returned to US 10.1.46; to RFC Cincinnati, OH 15.1.46
    and scrapped.

    AL640 c/n 138; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; TOC by
    USAAC 6.1.42; accepted 4.2.42; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at
    Fairfield Air Depot, OH; US 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama, Jungle
    Queen
    ; retd to USA 5.44; conv to C-87 at Nashville; used by
    Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific route (Consairway Airline) under
    contract to Ferrying Command (later ATC); out of fuel, ditched 450
    mls (725 km) NE of Hickam Field 3.11.45.

    AL641 c/n 139; retained in USA after Pearl Harbor; TOC by
    USAAC 6.1.42; fitted with ASV Mk.II radar at Fairfield Air Depot, OH;
    US 397 BS, 6th BG, Rio Hato, Panama, Tiger Lady; retd to USA
    5.44; conv to C-87 at Nashville; Pacific Wing ATC, used by
    Consolidated to fly trans-Pacific route (Consairway Airline) under
    contract to Ferrying Command (later ATC); to RFC Walnut Ridge
    AR.7.1.46.

    Cheers,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 17th July 2017 at 14:54. Reason: Tidying up
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

  20. #200
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    Thanks, Matt.

    The photo of AL594 is different from the others and, as per Matt's histories, these others were all converted at Nashville. Does this mean that the photographs were taken at Nashville. Since they were in the SDASM archive, I had assumed that the photos were taken in San Diego. I now wonder whether the aircarft went to San Diego before crossing to Nashville for conversion. Does anybody know?

  21. #201
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    This is given as AL547, which became G-AGKU. It is flying over farmland and, in the background, there is a coastline and, beyond that, across the water, another line of coast. Could this be near Prestwick, with the Firth of Clyde behind AL547 and the Isle of Arran beyond that?
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  22. #202
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    Ian,

    I've darked up the photo and played with contrast, in the hope that the background detail would reveal something distinct. No luck, so I'm clueless as to its location. Hold on while I scour the world in Google Earth to try to find it, though. See you in 2027...

    Matt
    Attached Images Attached Images  
    "The RAF Museum show has been forensically examined and was deeply unimpressive. I knew that their whale of a story was loaded with baloney".

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