ON 12 APRIL 1943


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A Catalina at Mackay Airport - 1961

A Catalina at Mackay airport - 1961

On 12 April 1943, while taking off at Port Moresby, RAAF Catalina, A24-24 of 20 Squadron RAAF, struck something in the water, and was forced to abandon its recce task and flew to Bowen where it had to be immediately beached at 1230 hours to prevent it sinking from hull damage. 

The Aircraft Accident Data report reads as follows:-

Aircraft was being beached at Bowen. Tide was out and the aircraft was being taxied from sand bank on to slipway with excessive engine. The airman on the tail wheel slipped and aircraft, getting out of control, ran off slipway with resultant damage set out on E/E24. (There was no need for this aircraft to be beached at low tide. This was done by the Pilot's instructions).

The crew consisted of:-

F/Lt. P. J. Shields (pilot)
P/O E. Ham (2nd pilot)
Sgt. A. Rapp (401832)
P/O Buzzard
plus five other crew

As a result of this early incident in its history, A24-24 became the first Catalina to come into Bowen, about ten days before 11 Squadron and 20 Squadron formally relocated their operational activities into Bowen from Port Moresby, which was no longer safe from Japanese attack.

Catalina A24-24 was involved in a much more serious accident off Bowen on 17 August 1943 with the loss of 14 lives. It is ironic that today, 58 years on, A24-24 is also the last Catalina remaining in Bowen, albeit sunk offshore, approximately six miles out from the mouth of the Don River.


I'd like to thank LeRoy Edson Billings of Bowen, QLD for his assistance with this home page.


Can anyone help me with more information on this crash?


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 Peter Dunn 2015


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This page first produced 28 March 2002

This page last updated 02 February 2020