20 Feb 2016


This 1944 Canadian Vickers built Canso CV375 Catalina is being lovingly restored at New Plymouth. It is due to fly shortly to be at Warbirds at Wanaka.
It served in the Royal Canadian Airforce for anti submarine duties but spent its last years (1988 - 1993) in Africa flying the Nile between Egypt and Zimbabwe with African Safari Tours (16 passengers + four crew) and was bought from the French owner. In 1955 it was in Costa Rica then back to Canada for stevadoring and with Austin Airways of Ontario
Two 1200hp engines power the beast, and it lands in the water at 140kph - all 12 tonnes of it.  It's 32m wing span looks huge. My dad was in the RNZAF in the Pacific Islands including Bouganville during WWII as a fitter armourer, and flew in Catalinas. He flew home lying by his kit bag in the nose of a Catalina as it was crowded. He described they overnighted in New Caledonia and when they attempted to take off the next morning the waves were too big so thank goodness the pilot eventually gave up, the single skin under the hull where he was lying seemed pretty thin.
56 Catalinas operated in the RNZAF, used for shipping escort, anti submarine, air sea rescue (downed pilots) and transport roles.
It has been repainted in RNZAF wartime plumage.

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