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imperceptibly that a widening view was the only indication,
the pilot turned with a grin of satisfaction to his second,
joining first finger and thumb together in the now-so-familiar
sign which has become the dumb-show for “It’s OK.”
Sadly, the ten minutes “were gone in a flash of sea and
suburb.” Turning back towards Crawley, Max Mainprize
banked the flying boat “so gently that, even when standing, it
was not necessary to hold on to keep one’s balance”:
Rapidly the river rose to meet the onrushing plane which,
with its engines still throbbing, seemed to simply fly on to
the waiting surface, gradually lose speed as it sped along
until, with engines throttled back, it came to rest at its
On April 17, A26-1 flew to Adelaide for a brief stay, before
returning to Lake Boga for more fund-raising flights.
In Melbourne, the weather was fine and warm for the
Sunderland’s re-scheduled visit. Several flights were made on
the weekend of April 21-22, with more than 60,000
spectators gathering on the Sunday to watch from the St.
Kilda promenade and foreshore. While the 500 subscribers
contributed approximately £75,000 to the loan, with one
Sunday passenger investing £1000, the Argus claimed that
“more people would have been carried on the two days had
For potential subscribers who missed out, the following
weekend brought the opportunity to board the Lancaster G for
George which was based in a “Special Reserve at the South
End of the Essendon Aerodrome”. Even for those who did not
subscribe £100 for a flight or £10 for an inspection, this was
an opportunity to stand close to the famous 460 Squadron
bomber. With its enormous wings and massive undercarriage,
and its cockpit and front turret standing high above the
ground, the Lancaster was an unforgettable sight that, in at
least one very young imagination, sparked a lifelong interest in
Meanwhile, A26-1 was battling “bad weather” in Sydney as it
concluded its Third Victory Loan activities with flights from the
Rose Bay flying boat base. According to the Sydney Morning
Herald, the Sunderland’s four-week tour had raised more than
Three weeks after the loan closed, Flight Lieutenant Max
Mainprize was discharged from the RAAF. In December, A26-1
was ferried to No.2 Flying Boat Repair Depot at Rathmines.
On March 14, 1946, a week after 40 Squadron arrived at the
Depot, A26-1 was withdrawn from service and placed in
storage. With the other four remaining Sunderlands, it was
advertised for sale on June 12, a few days before 40
Squadron was disbanded.
When former flying boat pilot Squadron Leader Bryan Monkton
was discharged on September 24, 1945, he was anxious to
“do something about my family’s future.” With a friend, he
considered buying some retired Catalinas to start a flying boat
service in Queensland, but while inspecting these aircraft at
Rathmines, his attention was diverted to the five Sunderlands
awaiting disposal. When he boarded one of them, he quickly
concluded that no other flying boat had the same “mysterious
ship like quality” and “indefinable aura” of the Sunderland. As
he moved through the lower deck, he “was continually
impressed by the nautical appearance and great strength of
Though he did not need five flying boats, Monkton’s wife
encouraged him to buy them if they were available cheaply.
He successfully tendered £6000 for the Sunderlands and a
supply of spares, and formed Trans Ocean Airways to operate
in the south-west Pacific. On April 28, 1947, A26-1 was
ferried from Rathmines to Rose Bay. Despite being allocated
the serial VH-ARQ, and later VH-BKO, it was not converted for
civil use. Instead, it was used as a source of spare parts.
What was left of the aircraft was sold for scrap in 1953.21
It was a sad end for a magnificent machine that had once
captured the attention of so many Australians.
Once again, I am deeply indebted to Monica Walsh for her
generous efforts to assist my research. AJB
1. McKernan, Michael: All In! Australia During The Second World War, Melbourne, 1983,
p.147; Day, David: John Curtin, Sydney, 1999, p.554; The Geraldton Guardian and
Express, April 11, 1945, p.5 .
2. The Camperdown Chronicle, January 9, 1945, p.1; The Argus, March 17, 1945, p.6S.
3. The Argus, March 8, 1945, p.3 .
4. The Argus, September 20, 1943, p.4; http://www.uboat.net/allies/aircraft/raaf.htm;
Supplement to the London Gazette, September 10, 1943, p.4012; Baff, K.C .: Maritime is
Number 10, Traralgon, 2005 edition, pp.203-204; pp.219-220; pp.286-288; pp.418-423.
5. Wilson, Stewart: The Anson, Hudson & Sunderland in Australian Service, Sydney, 1992,
p.145; Freeman, Brett: Lake Boga at War, Swan Hill, 1995, p.19.
6. Wilson, Stewart: op.cit., p.145.
7. ibid., pp.166-167; The West Australian, April 12, 1945, p.4 .
8. Wilson, Stewart: op.cit., 1992, p.201.
9. The Hobart Mercury, April 4, 1945, p.5
10. The Hobart Mercury, April 6, 1945, p.6 .
11. The Argus, April 6, 1945, p.6; April 30, 1945, p.3; Bolt, Andrew (ed.): Our Home Front
1939-45, Melbourne, 1995, p.260.
12. The Argus, April 6, 1945, p.6; April 7, 1945, p.6; Bolt, Andrew (ed.): op.cit., p.259.
13. The Argus, April 9, 1945, pp.6, 8.
14. Freeman, Brett: op.cit., pp.228-229
15. The West Australian, April 16, 1945, p.7 .
16. The Hobart Mercury, April 6, 1945, p.3 .
17. The West Australian, April 17, 1945, p.4
18. The Argus, April 23, 1945, p.3.
19. The Sydney Morning Herald, April 26, 1945, p.4 .
20. Monkton, Bryan: The Boats I Flew, Panania, 2005, pp.68 -74 .
21. Aussie Airliners Website: http://www.aussieairliners.org/shortfb/vh-arq/vharq.html.
A26-1 over Rose Bay, Sydney
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