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Qantas Empire Airways
Built by Consolidated in San Diego as Model 28-5MA. Constructors Number 342. Purchased by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA). Ferried across the Pacific as part of flight "R". On October 21, 1942 arrived at Rose Bay Seaplane Base. On October 22, 1941 registered in Australia with call sign VH-AFR and flown to Rathmines.
Assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as PBY-5 Catalina serial number A24-17. On January 3, 1942 assigned to No. 20 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art. During May 1942 operated from Tulagi Seaplane Base (Gavutu).
On January 13, 1942 at 5:04am took off from Tulagi Seaplane Base (Gavutu) piloted by P/O F. A. D. Diercks on a flight to Faisi Island in the Shortland Islands and landed at 8:00am to evacuate an Australian Lt. Gordon H. C. Train who needed medical assistance. At 8:30pm took off again and returning to Tulagi Seaplane Base landing at 12:49am on January 14, 1942.
On February 3, 1942 at night took off from Fairfax Harbor as one of five Catalinas on a night raid against Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. The formation included Catalina A24-3, Catalina A24-5, Catalina A24-18, Catalina A24-14 and this aircraft. Over the target, this Catalina was attacked by A5M4 Claudes of the Chitose Kōkūtai (operating in tandem with the searchlight crews) over the target, and damaged, possibly by FPO/1C Hiroyoshi Nishizawa and claimed a Catalina that night. All bombs were jettisoned and the aircraft attempted to gain cover of clouds. Both port and starboard fuel tanks were holed and a burst was received in the oil tank which severed an oil line. The aircraft escaped and proceeded to Salamaua where a forced landing was made at 1700Z/3. Repairs were attempted and the aircraft then departed on on one engine at 2341Z/3 and landed at Fairfax Harbor at 0700Z/4 the next day.
On February 24, 1942 took off from Port Moresby Flying Boat Base on a bombing mission against Rabaul with Catalina A24-2 and Catalina A24-13 (MIA).
On June 27, 1942 took off piloted by FO Robert M. Seymour while returning to Havannah Harbor Seaplane Base spotted by a U.S. Navy (USN) F4F Wildcat that mistook the RAAF roundel with a red center on the top of the wing as a Japanese Hinomaru (rising sun) and attacked mistakenly believing it was an enemy seaplane. This Catalina was damaged by gunfire, but no casualties were inflicted to the crew. After landing safely, emergency repairs were made at Havannah Harbor Seaplane Base and then flown to Nouméa Harbor and hoisted aboard USS Curtiss AV-4 for additional repairs. After this incident of mistaken identity, the RAAF roundel red center was removed and replaced by a white roundel.
During August 1942 at Lake Boga Flying Boat Base for an overhaul by No. 1 RAAF Flying Boat Repair Depot and was the first first flying serviced at Lake Boga.
On July 9, 1942 assigned to No. 11 Squadron. On March 29, 1943 to 3 Operational Training Unit (3 OTU) with fuselage code J. This Catalina survived the Pacific War. On December 4, 1945 converted to components and scrapped.
20 Squadron Operations Record Book (ORB) January 13-14, 1942
"A flight by A24-17 (20 Sqn) Captain P/O A. L. Norman of 20 Sqn, second pilot P/O F. A. D. Diercks of 11 Sqn from Tulagi to Faisi and return to evacuate an AIF needing medical assistance. The aircraft was airborne 0504 and waterborne FAISI 0800. Making a night stop at FAISI the aircraft was airborne 2030 and waterborne TULAGI 0049/14. There were nil sightings."
ADF Serials - Catalina A24-17
WW2 Nominal Roll - Allan Leslie Norman
WW2 Nominal Roll - Frederick Arthur Donald Diercks
WW2 Nominal Roll - Robert Michael Seymour
WW2 Nominal Roll - Gordon Henry Charles Train
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