In many reference books and on websites VH-BRI, a PBY-5A Catalina flying boat c/n 1735), is listed as a converted houseboat and located at Shute Harbour,QLD. But the last sighting seemed to date from 1996.|
So I did not find it surprising that upon my visit it had long gone. When I asked around I was given the telephone number of the former owners, the O'Hara family. When I talked to them on the phone I was told it had been sold and had moved north, to Home Hill/Bowling Green (QLD). By that time I still had no idea what to look for and did not have the time to backtrack up north. So I was glad Terry Magee made this photo available to me: taken at Cannonvale on 25Oct75: one can hardly recognize in a plane in this houseboat !
Further updates about its present condition and location would be welcomed.
Here is a map, look for Airlie Beach which is only a few miles from Shute Harbour. Home Hill is on the map too, look north.
Lee Morgan wrote me (Mar.2006) with: "48373 (c/n 1735) to N10018 then N95R, now VH-BRI in Australia as a houseboat. Was DBR (=damaged beyond -economic- repair) 08Jul1962."
Updates will be welcomed,
This article is from the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf ("De Vaarkrant"), date unknown; it was reproduced on a Dutch-language forum about maritime vessels in Dec.2006, by Rob B.
James Fogg of Adelaide,Australia wrote me in Feb.2007 and also sent me this photo:
|Fred Niven wrote me the following history on VH-BRI:
Consolidated 28-5ACF(PBY-5A) VH-BRI.
Ex U.S. Navy PBY-5A Bu 48373. Transferred from its Litchfield Park, AZ, storage (used for many ex-U.S. Navy Catalinas). To Remmert Werner, St. Louis, MO, USA, which then specialised in converting Catalinas to executive interiors, for conversion, initially without change to its nose. Its nose turret was later removed.
Initially registered as N10018. By 1958, it was with the Beldex Corp., MO, as N95R; featuring an executive interior.
It was purchased by A.T.I. and converted by Remmert Werner, St. Louis,MO to an airline passenger configuration (23 passengers), with conversion being completed Sep59.
Registered VH-BRI to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. 10/10/59, for use by ANSETT-ANA - 22 passengers. It departed St. Louis 10/10/59 and was ferried El Paso-San Francisco-Honolulu-Canton Is.-Nadi-Tontouta-Sydney; arriving 19Oct59, as VH-BRI (Captains Stewart Middlemiss, Lloyd Maundrell and E.W.P. `Pat' Adams & Engineer R. Bush). It was met at Sydney by R.M. Ansett.
VH-BRI was already painted in a special color-scheme and 'ANSETT'-titles, including the words 'Consolidated Super 28' on the central wing support and had a faired nose plus a rear Convair CV-240-type 'airstair' for landside passenger use; passengers used the front- starboard door when on water.
It was delivered to Rose Bay, for pre-service checks. Its 1st service, Proserpine-Hayman Is., was 12Nov59. It was based at Proserpine. Operated Proserpine-Hayman Island-Proserpine five times per day, 4 days per week. It was re-engined with more powerful (DC-4) engines, with conversion starting 27Jan60.
Registered to Ansett Flying Boat Services Pty. Ltd. 28Oct60.
Relaunched 03Nov60 and officially named `The Golden Islander' by singer June Bronhill at Rose Bay, Sydney on 03Nov60. At various times it appeared with large 'ANSETT' above small 'FLYING BOAT SERVICES', 'ANSETT F.B.S.' & 'ANSETT-ANA' titles - otherwise the color-scheme remained unchanged.
It was sunk at Hayman Island overnight 08Jul62, after a heavy landing had, unknown to the pilot, loosened several rivets. The next morning it was laying with its wing on the surface of the water...
It was struck off the Register the same date (3,241 hours). Its remains were sold to Vic O'Hara, Proserpine, for £5, converted & used as a houseboat.
As far as I'm aware, it's still in the Proserpine area.
Thanks Fred !
Whilst on the subject of Catalina-turned-houseboats, Allan Lebaron sent me this photo of the Paddle Cat, photo by the owner, Jim Vale. |
Allan wrote me the following information: "I have following information on BuAer 1216; it was of interest to me because it was from the original PW10 squadrons in the Philippines when the war began for the U.S. and my brother's squadron (VP-22) was sent out from Pearl with early-model PBY-5s as reinforcement. They lost almost all their a/c - I think two of the 4s survived, one or two of the -5s they had received from the Dutch, and one from VP-22, which was sent back to the U.S. and used as a trainer in Florida. I believe the -4s turned over to the Aussies were also used as trainers but were surplused after the war.
Roderick Smith wrote me in Jan.2006:|
"I can tell you that the Paddle Cat is being restored at Nangiloc; this information is 4 years old anyhow (I know the supplier).
1. Paddle Cat at Mildura is a Catalina
2. name unknown at Picnic Point is another PBY Catalina"
Rod supplied the following photos:
Top is PV 'Paddle Cat' at Mildura 25Apr99 (by Roderick Smith) and above: at Picnic Point (upriver of Barmah), a houseboat of former Catalina flying boat in 1970 (by Neil Smith).
The image above can be enlarged by clicking on it.
Click on the photo for a larger image
Gol Gol: PV Paddle Cat, ex a Catalina. 2006. (by Peter Allen, R&RH&PS)
Rod wrote me in Feb.2007 with an update:
|In Nov.2015 I read on Facebook / WIX forum a nice update which touches my subject:
"... a Dornier Do.24 survived, although not in a complete state. The nose section of an unidentified Dornier was converted to a houseboat and used as such on the Murray river in Australia.
When it was retired it lay unused for a couple of years in a town called Echuca, Victoria.
It was re-discovered around 2008-2009 and after negotiations, it was acquired by the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, which is located at he shore of Lake Boga, also in Victoria.
The nose section is restored and is on display in the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, along with the PBY Catalina which is on display there.
The identity of the Dornier is not (yet) stablished as all identifying plates and numbers were removed during the scrapping. "
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My Australia trip in 2005: Cairns to Sydney and Sydney to Melbourne