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  S.23 "Centaurus" Registration G-ADUT Serial Number A18-10
RAAF
33 Squadron

Former Assignments
20 Squadron
11 Squadron
Imperial Airways

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Gill circa 1930s

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AWM Feb 17, 1940

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February 28, 1940

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Mirkovic c1940

Aircraft History
Built by Short in Rochester, Kent United Kingdom. Constructors Number S.811 Assigned the British registration G-ADUT. Operated by Imperial Airways London (IAL). Nicknamed "Centaurus" painted on the right side of the cockpit. On the right side of the hull was painted "Imperial Airways London" and registration "G-ADUT". Fitted with long range fuel and oil tanks. Prewar, this flying boat flew the Sydney to London route.

Wartime History
On September 25, 1939 impressed into service with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with serial number A18-10.

On September 21, 1939 assigned to 11 Squadron operated from Walter Bay off Ela Beach and Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby. During 1940, used as part of a RAAF survey flight operating in New Guinea with S23 "Calypso" A18-11.

On November 20, 1939 took off from Port Moresby piloted by Charles R. Gurney on a flight to Tulagi Seaplane Base and made the first seaplane landing at that location.

On February 28, 1940 this aircraft transported the body of Sir Hubert Murry from Samarai Island to Port Moresby.

Between May 1940 until the start of the Pacific to investigated suspicious movements, defend trade and conduct periodic reconnaissance over Port Moresby, Rabaul, Tulagi and Port Vila, organize a radio network, establish Advance Operational Bases (AOBs) and defend Port Moresby.

Armed with two scarff rings on the top of the fuselage with 7.7mm Lewis guns and swivel brackets in windows cut into each side of the fuselage for 7.7mm machine guns.

During late 1940, unsuccessfully searched for German surface raiders in the area.

On November 18, 1940 assigned to No. 20 Squadron as part of a transportation flight.

On February 12, 1942 assigned to No. 33 Squadron at Townsville.

Additional armament was added including a single 50 caliber machine gun in the mooring compartment hatch, twin .30 caliber machine guns above the navigator's hatch and a .50 caliber machine gun shared between mounts on each side of the flight deck. The windows cut into each side of the fuselage were upgraded with .50 caliber machine guns.

On March 1, 1942 flown to Roebuck Bay off Broome by Flt Lt Keith Caldwell with intentions to use the flying boat to evacuate personnel from Tjilatjap on Java.

Sinking History
On March 3, 1942 while moored in Roebuck Bay off Broome destroyed during an air raid by Japanese A6M2 Zeros and sunk. This flying boat was the first strafed and destroyed. Officially written off on April 16, 1942.

At the time, both pilots were ashore and only the flight crew was aboard. Fueled with 1,400 gallons, the flying boat caught fire immediately. Crew member Sgt Andrew Ireland launched the life raft and helped to pickup other survivors before they were picked up by a larger rescue boat. Later he earned the British Empire Medal for bravery.

References
Air Enthusiast "C-Class 'Boats at War" by David Vincent page 33-37
AWM "Len Henderson, Dudley Thrift, William 'Billy' Griffin, Frederick Darmody, Harold Howes and Stanley Williams interviewed by Louise Darmody regarding the events of 8 August 1942 when RAAF Short S23 Empire Flying Boat A18-11 crashed and sank whilst attempting to rescue survivors of a Japanese submarine attack on the MV Mamutu" (AWM S05254)
ADF Serials - S23 A18-10
ADF Serials - S23 A18-10 Photo Gallery
Thanks for Daniel Leahy for additional information

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Last Updated
February 11, 2021

 

Tech Info
S.23

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