Closely watched planes 6: flying boats

Now that the photo blog has taken over most of my own output, I return to an earlier series, dormant since May 8th, 2008. Having just watched a DVD of a 1974 Australian documentary The Ships that Flew, I thought it good to highlight the flying boats, especially the Short Sandringham, a civilian version of the World War II Sunderland, which was such a feature of our Sydney – and Sydney Harbour – skies in the first half of my life. I allude to them here.


qantas-ebx sandr qantas-flying-boat-wreck

Poster by Walter Jardine 1939 from Josef Lebovic Gallery

Left: Qantas Flying Boat VH-EBX Right: VH-BRE (an Ansett plane) that was
blown ashore at Lord Howe Island – both from Qantas Short S25 Sandringham Flying Boat VH-EBW

Centre: Short S.25/V Sandringham 4 – VH-BRC Beachcomber

Closely watched planes 5 — Tiger Moth

You read about it here:

I do remember sitting on my dinkie on the gravel drive, near the Dorothy Perkins climbing rose which I called Mrs Perkins and confused with the lady next door who I thought was also Mrs Perkins. A yellow biplane flew over very low and the pilot leaned out and waved to me. My mother later told me that must have been the end of World War II.


Yes, the once ubiquitous Tiger Moth, or DH82A. Read about it there on the Temora Air Show site.

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Closely watched planes 4 — “Faithful Annie”

Jim Belshaw having mentioned the Avro Anson here and here, I decided to do my own post on this amazing wooden aircraft of the 1930s onwards. On the Anson a few facts from “Digger History” (linked to the aircraft name):

The Anson was the RAAF’s first retractable undercarriage, low wing monoplane, and served in great numbers (1,028 aircraft) following 1935 orders, when the RAAF set out to modernise its equipment. 

It stayed in service until 1955, when the few remaining examples of this faithful machine were terribly outmoded…

A number of Ansons continued to fly in civil roles with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, various regional operators, police, scientific research bodies, and private owners, including former Queensland Premier Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, who used one for agricultural work. In the 1960s a series of accidents involving aircraft of similar construction to the Anson led to restrictions, and ultimately to withdrawal of Certificates of Airworthiness. The last pure-bred Anson to fly, VH-BEL / W2121, had its certification extended until September 1962 to complete a survey contract in Western Australia.

First pic comes from Jim’s second mention:


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Closely watched planes 3

In Towns I’ve stayed in 2 — Dorrigo I mentioned the Fokker Friendship, and in the late 60s and 70s I certainly did fly in these winged buses on a number of occasions. The most interesting flight was from Dubbo in 1975 when the plane made it back to Sydney on one engine, the port engine having given up the ghost somewhere around Lithgow.

I see there is one of these still in service in Australia, doing special things for the Navy:


F27 Friendship (1976 model) formerly of East-West Airlines. More info on picture link.

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Closely watched planes 2

More that I remember seeing in the 1940s and early 1950s. All the pictures are linked to more information.


De Havilland Dragon

“British production of the DH.84 ended at the 115th aircraft… However, during World War II the DH.84 was put back into production at Bankstown, Australia as a navigational trainer for the RAAF, being preferred to the Rapide because its smaller engines were then being manufactured locally for De Havilland Tiger Moth production. A further 87 were built. Following the end of the War, surviving DH.84s were released into commercial service and a number are still flying today.”

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Closely watched planes 1

Perhaps it was inevitable given the fact I was born during World War II, the child of a serving RAAF ground crew member and the nephew of a very young signalman in the RAAF who served in some of the war’s worst actions in the New Guinea campaign, after whom I was named. Flying and aircraft did tend to be mentioned. That little boy in 1945 in the side bar now over sixty years later recalls the sight of RAAF uniforms, and the planes that sometimes appeared in the sky over Auburn Street Sutherland. As for the uniforms: I apparently addressed anyone wearing one as “Daddy”, which I am told led to at least one embarrassing moment for a young RAAF man in the city in the company of a young woman.

My father worked on these in Port Moresby:


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