The registration history of S.876 'Carpentaria' seems to be.......S.876 was assigned the Australian reg. VH-ABA in 1937 for QANTAS but Imperial Airways delayed its delivery and used it commercially themselves between January and June 1938 as G-AFBJ (hence the photo postcard believed sent in 1938). Whilst serving with QANTAS as VH-ABA it got cut off west of Singapore by the Japanese invasion in December 1941 and was restored to BOAC as G-AFBJ never returning to QANTAS
There has been an argument over the years about Empire flying boats colours with some claiming they had a whitish or buff finish all over, some favouring bare metal. In 1940 a New South Wales road building team taken to Darwin by ship caught 3 Empires arriving in a 16mm Kodacolor documentary* and it's possible to see how their anodised bare metal surfaces could look white in certain lights. * around 7min10sec into www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieX9UvzVORQ
What has not helped the discussion of C-Class fuselage colour is that on many of the bare-metal finish aircraft the white of the tricolour stripe below the letters was omitted. If you're looking for a red-white-blue stripe on a monochrome photo, and what is actually there to see is red-silver-blue, that's an invitation to misinterpret. The quality of the few available colour photos generally doesn't help too much.
Hi Adrian...It hadn't occurred to me that they might sometimes have omitted the white bar in the red-white-blue stripes but to me the Darwin photos are evidence that the bare anodised aluminium could vary in appearance from metallic grey to white depending on the angle of illumination. In the photos of CLARE at La Guardia (see earlier in this stream), the camouflage paint stops a couple of feet short of the waterline..although it looks white in the photo (but not as white as the painted stripe) I think the lower hull is unpainted oxidised/anodised bare metal Mick
I think you're right about Clare, Mick, but to be honest I'd believe other things too. Clare was extensively prepared for the flight to New York immediately before the flight - the intention being to get as much publicity as possible, to show that Britain was still "open for business" despite hostilities. She would likely have taken off with the paint only just dry, so it would be small wonder if it all looked fresh and even, even on the underside. However, I do agree that it is more likely they left it unpainted. Adrian
Adrian...Do your files on the preparation of G-AFCZ include discussion of why it was renamed'Clare' ? I've always assumed it was to curry favour with the influential Clare Luce-Boothe , wife of the founder of LIFE magazine ( and as the superb colour photos LIFE took of G-AFCZ at La Guardia weren't used, perhaps the renaming didn't work ) Mick
Maybe so, Mick. It seems that the aircraft was "renamed Clare after repair of damage caused at Basra." She ran aground at Basra on 8 August 1939 and was repaired on site, being serviceable again on 17 February 1940. As to why she was renamed, I have yet to find anything. I would suggest that Australia wasn't a good name for a C-Class, as it didn't begin with "C", and was open to confusion when services with these aircraft were flying to that country. Imperial Airways originally chose their aircraft names at least in part to be phonetically unique and difficult to misinterpret over long-range radio, and while radio had improved by 1940, BOAC more-or-less continued the practice (although there would seem to be obvious exceptions, including C-Class boats Cooee and Coogee!) The flight numbers for Clare and Clyde's trans-Atlantic flights follow on from the pre-war flight-refuelled services. BOAC Newsletter of July 1942 records that the airline originally intended, unsurprisingly, to us Cabot and Caribou for the trans-Atlantic services, but these aircraft had by this time been lost - the reclaiming of the three tanker Harrows by the military won't have been helpful even if the refuelable boats had survived. It implies that the decision to use Clare and Clyde had been rather "last minute".
The application of the tricolour stripes to Imperial/BOAC flying boats was brought about by the interception of several of the boats by French fighters as they crossed France in the early days of the war. The original scheme was suggested by Capt Birouard, Commandant, Marseilles. His bosses in the French Air Ministry initially backed him up, but when British authorities got sniffy that Birouard was "a subordinate official" and thus not fit to decide what should be painted on British aircraft, it all degenerated into a diplomatic farce which lasted for days, if not weeks. Finally, in mid-October 1939, someone in the higher echelons of British government got wind of this and told everyone to stop messing about and adopt the suggestion immediately (full instructions were apparently contained in something I've only ever seen described as "The Red Book"...) For all that, few aircraft were painted in precisely that scheme, and fewer were photographed wearing it, for all that it was theoretically "in force" for quite a long time. With the tricolour stripes on the elevators as well as the rudder, this photo of Clare shows Birouard's scheme - for completeness, there should be a large Union Jack under each wingtip, but I don't think I've ever seen that in a photo of any aircraft. The outlining of the letters and the stripes below the fuselage letters are a British innovation that came later.
Linn's overview isn't that handy if they think there were no BOAC trans-Atlantic flights between October 1940 and the start of Constellation ops in 1946! No LB.30s? No Boeing 314s?
Adrian...l was just pointing out the lack of stripes on Clare compared to its state in the colour NY LIFE photos. Shorts put Union Jacks and camouflage on Cathay, Clifton and Golden Horn prior to their launching around April 1940 ( but no colour bands)... then BOACs Captain James report seems to have been the driver behind the application of Union Jacks to BOACs camouflaged flying boats around October 1940. Was it perhaps deliberate there were no Union flags on Clare or Clyde in New York? Mick P.S Did the Liberators and Boeing 314s carry much mail to the USA?9
Mick, Re: mail. That depends on the definition of "much". They certainly carried some, but I can't recall having seen a table of what/when. It wasn't the primary purpose of the Liberators, arguable for the 314s, and I expect mail carriage by either might best be described as subload or ad hoc, particularly given how the 314s changed routes quite often. I do know that Canadian dissatisfaction with the mail "service" on the northern, Liberator, route was a factor in their acquiring their B-17s and starting the "MailCan" service to give a reliable mail pathway between Canadian troops in Europe and their families back home.