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  S.23C "Coriolanus" Empire Flying Boat Call Sign VH-ABG  
Qantas Empire Airways
Former Assignments
Imperial Airways

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O. Howard Davidsmeyer

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Qantas via Barr
January 6, 1943

Aircraft History
Built by Short in Rochester, Kent United Kingdom. Constructors Number S.838. Ordered by Imperial Airways on September 2, 1935. Completed as a S.23 Empire Class Boat, the 15th Empire flying boat built with 920hp Bristol Pegasus Xc engines with a fuel capacity of 650 gallons, weighing 40,500lbs, later increased to 53,000lbs, cruising speed of 164mph with a range of 760 miles.

On March 1, 1937 registered in England as G-AETV (CofR 7670). First flight on June 17, 1937 and a Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) issued. Nicknamed "Coriolanus". On the left and right side of the nose was painted in black "CORIOLANUS" above "QANTAS AIRWAYS". The rear fuselage had the registration VH-ABG. The tail had the tricolor markings.

Wartime History
On January 16, 1941 took off piloted by Captain B. Hussey on Imperial Airways inaugural Sydney to Dili service. After the start of the Pacific War, this flying boat was pressed into service.

On February 28, 1942 took off from Tjilatjap on Java piloted by Captain O. Denny on a flight to evacuate personnel to Roebuck Bay off Broome.

During August 1942, ownership transferred to Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) in exchange for VH-ABF. On August 12, 1942 registered as VH-ABG (CofR 783) in Australia.

During September 1942 began daily service flying from Townsville via Cairns to Fairfax Harbor off Port Moresby.

On January 6, 1943 took off piloted by Captain B. Hussey to rescue survivors of B-17F 41-24538 from Urasi Island.

On April 22, 1943 took off piloted by Captian Ambrose on a flight form Port Moresby to Australia.

On October 8, 1945 this flying boat was the first Qantas aircraft to land at Singapore. On November 19, 1945 began daily service from Sydney, Brisbane, Noumea and Fiji.

On December 20, 1947 last flight Sydney to Noumea. On December 23, 1947 withdrawn from service at Rose Bay.

On January 8, 1948 Australian registration canceled. This was the last Empire flying boat in service anywhere in the world with over 18,500 hours and 2,500,000 miles flown. During 1948 this flying boat was scrapped at Rose Bay.

Front-Line Airline The war story of Qantas Empire Airways Limited pages 155-157
"Finally Captain Hussey found that General Kenney was in [Port] Moresby and made an appointment with him. The General said that the aircraft was a B-17 and the circumstances justified special efforts. Its location was stated and General Kenney wished Captain Hussey to offload the wounded and proceed as quickly as possible. This was done and a doctor and medical attendant were included in the personnel.
On the way to the island, an escort of Allied fighters picked up the flying boat and gave top cover in the event of running into Japanese aircraft. This was the first time a lone Qantas aircraft had had protection.
The locality indicated was searched without result, but after circling for some minutes over Urasi Island, the party was quickly located. Setting the flying down on the open sea was not easiest task but it was safely done, and the flying boat taxied close inshore.
Hardly had the flying boat touched the water than one of the castaways crew came out in a rubber boat. He reported that the whole crew ere there, 9 in all. The co-pilot of the B-17F 41-24538 was Lieutenant Durbeck who told the story of their adventure."
Challenging Horizons: Qantas 1939-1945 page 91
"On 6 and 7 January, Captain Hussey, under instructions from General Kenney, flew Coriiolanus to Wamea Island to search for the crew of a B-17. Fighter cover of three aircraft was provided because of Japanese air presence. This crew was not found, but Hussey sighted and brought back another party of stranded airmen from Goodenough Island."
News "An Air Rescue Captain Herbert Hussey"
The Queensland Book of Memories: Herbert Bindley Hussey
Pictures of WWII Airplanes in the Pacific photos O. Howard Davidsmeyer via Jo Davidsmeyer
AussieAirliners VH-ABG Short S-23 Empire Flying Boat
Wrecks & Reefs pages 143 mentions Apirl 22, 1943 flight from Port Moresby to Australia
Thanks to Steve Birdsall for additional information

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019


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