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Thread: Scottish Aviation Ltd Largs Seaplane Terminal

  1. #1
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    Scottish Aviation Ltd Largs Seaplane Terminal

    Hi,

    I have just joined and was hoping some of your members could help me out with some research I am carrying out. I know that during world war 2 No 231 squadron's Coronado Flying boats operated between North America, West Africa and Largs Scotland as their British Terminal. I also know that a Seaplane Maintenance terminal was set up in Largs by scottish aviation ltd as a "feeder" to their larger factory in Greenock which worked on Sunderlands as well as Catalinas. I have the squadron records for 231 when they reformed as No.45 group Communications Squadron (from the national archives) They mention the Coronados, in fact they give their serial numbers but apart from that details are sketchy. I have tried the local library, the reference library for this area, ( from which I have gleaned a bit more information including the fact that some of the 27 martin mariners given to the RAF under the lend/lease program flew from here for example JX110 which flew from Largs to Stranraer on the 2/2/44) the Aeronatical Society Prestwick Branch, Barrfields Pavilion in largs (this was the seaplane workshop). I just find it amazing that this small Scottish seaside town was such an international Air Hub during world war 2 and its as if it never happened.
    I understand the need for secrecy during world war 2 but would I be wrong in assuming that surely some records would have had to been kept as to the positioning of this base.
    Basically I am just looking for any pointers or suggestions from you gents as to where I might look in the future as I am sure there is still info out there.

    thanks

  2. #2
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    Googling ‘coronado largs’ came up with this one which may be of interest:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/s...a7546962.shtml

    ‘Lucky for Some’ by ‘ferryman43’
    “..... I was finally posted to 231 Long Range Communications Squadron using Coronado flying boats from Montreal to Largs (Scotland) via Botwood (Newfoundland) carrying mostly VIP’s and mail and urgent supplies to and fro across the Atlantic.”

    Which at least gives a Unit - which may give a lead.

    I know Sunderlands were involved but haven't brought anything to light as yet.

  3. #3
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    ...have you noticed this links '..four Martin Coronado..'
    http://www.clydeaviation.org.uk/avia...ndex.htm#largs
    http://www.clydeaviation.org.uk/gall...-1coronado.jpg
    and particular this
    http://forum.keypublishing.co.uk/showthread.php?t=53396

    edit: 'Ten of the aircraft, designated PB2Y-3B, were supplied to the RAF and based initially at Beaumaris, Anglesey, intended for service with Coastal Command. Their stay there was only brief, for they were transferred to No. 231 Squadron of Transport Command and Used from June 1944 to operate freight services.'
    http://www.century-of-flight.freeola...20Coronado.htm
    Last edited by wieesso; 8th April 2008 at 05:45.

  4. #4
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    leads

    Thanks wieesso and sunderlandnut a couple of leads here I will look at and hopefully take my search on!

  5. #5
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    Hi Garry,

    That's an interesting project - good luck with it. It looks like you are doing most of the right things already.

    I've just completed a research project that similarly had no easy to access records. The way I found around it was through oral history - find the people who were there and record their story (ideally with a digital recorder or at least some good note taking) The downside is that for this period of history, it really is last chance for oral history.

    An alternative is to chase around with the likes of the Imperial War Museum oral history archive and see what is already there. Sunderlandnut has already found one good one.

    The poor records for 231 may be down to the person who filled in the forms. Some units recorded much more detail than others. 4 (C) OTU is one of the worst I've seen - and one I would have really liked good information from!

    Do you have any idea of where the Scottish Aviation archive is held? Presumably it was merged into the BAE archives when the companies were merged?

    Allan
    Last edited by Pondskater; 8th April 2008 at 14:36.
    "Writing is easy - all you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds." - Douglas Adams

  6. #6
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    Did you try The Mitchell Reference Library in Glasgow ? This is Scotland and Europe's largest reference library and I'm 99% certain has a vast section on all things Scottish aviation, at least according to my auntie Jan who worked there for years.

    Dumbarton library may be of use as well, particularly for any info regarding (sunderland) flying boats which were built locally on the Clyde, wartime.
    Go n-ithe an cat thú, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat !

  7. #7
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    To provide additional mooring and servicing space, Scottish Aviation opened a facility at Largs Bay for the servicing of Catalinas. A slipway was completed in September 1942 (and remains today) and the Esplanade in front of the Barrfields Theater (now Vikingar) was used as the base. By the summer of 1944, as many as eighteen Catalina's, two Coronados and two Mariners could be seen moored in the bay. During September, sixty Catalina's were in transit through Largs, en route fron San Diego, California, to Murmansk, Russia. A further fifteen followed in August and September 1945. By the end of the war, Largs had serviced more than 300 PBY Catalina's for the RAF.

    From August 1943 twenty-seven twin engine Martin Mariner flying boats were delivered to Largs. Six on these were flown by No.524 Squadron, RAF from Oban, but they were not a success and were returned to the US in 1944. During the summers of 1944 and 1945, regular four-engine Consolidated PB2Y-3B Coronado flying-boat services, carrying passengers and mail were flown by No.231 Squadron RAF, from Montreal / Boucherville, via Gander Lake, terminating their transatlantic crossing at Largs. West bound services were routed via Iceland, for a re-fueling stop. Twenty-three return flights were made in 1944 and from May 1945 two return flights were made each week to the end of September, for a total of 169 crossings. In March 1946, at least four Coronado's were scuttled off the island of Little Cumbrae.

    'Prestwick Airport & Scottish Aviation' - Peter Berry MRaes.

  8. #8
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    help

    Hi Pondskater,

    I think I will try the Imperial war Museum oral history archive next. I have really just skimmed my Squadron records for 231/no.45 group but I have found some "gems" for further investigation including a list of the VIP crews for 231 squadron which includes S/L T.M. Bulloch DSO and BAR who did 3 tours in Costal Command as a U-Boat hunter. (I am sure I am not the only person who finds themselves going in completely the opposite direction when coming across a unexpected nugget of info!) anyway as to the Scottish Aviation archive I contacted the company who bought them over Spirit Aerosystems but got no reply, I may try them again.

    Ren Frew I must admit the Mitchell Library was one I did not think of trying I will give both them and Dumbarton a call.

    Thanks for the info on the book Peter, do you know if it has any photographs?


    I have also been checking the Scottish Screen Archive and found and ordered a 10 minute silent movie from the early 40s called "flying above the clouds" it was an educational film showing 2 boys boarding a De havilland Rapide (G-AGUP) at Renfrew Airport and flying down to the island of Little Cumbrae before flying back along the coast over Largs then Greenock then Dumbarton Rock. Of Course the camera stops just before the Seaplane terminal in Largs (most likely wartime censorship) still it is an interesting little movie and I would recommend others check out the Scottish Screen Archive as a reference source.

    I will continue to research and when I find anything I will post it here, thanks again folks

    garry

  9. #9
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    Just another thought that worked for me.

    The RAF Museum have a large collection of log books. They are catalogued and can be searched by unit or aircraft type. You might find a couple of relevant ones. Of course the information in them is a basic but it can answer a number of questions.

    Good luck
    "Writing is easy - all you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds." - Douglas Adams

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