Rathmines Catalina: 'Our Girl'
In April 2013, after a seven year worldwide search, a Catalina Flying boat (PBY-5A) was located at San Juan Airport, Puerto Rico. The aircraft, which has become known as ‘Our Girl’, was built in late 1943 for the US Navy. Post war she was sold into private hands and the RCMPA purchased her from the Orinoco Mining Co.
In poor condition after years of exposure to the weather, Association volunteers made numerous trips to San Juan to work on the logistics of dismantling and shipping the aircraft to Sydney. Prior to shipping, there was many hours spent in cleaning (ready for Australian quarantine inspection) and finally the aircraft was in five manageable sections and shipped over several months to Sydney.
Restoration commenced in May 2014, with three volunteers, to date over 25,000 hours of volunteer hours have been logged and volunteer numbers have grown to seventeen. It is anticipated that another 10,000 hours will be required to bring the aircraft to static display standards.
The aircraft will be brought back to WWII specifications, with the addition of side waist blisters, bow turret and the tunnel gun hatch. Wartime radio equipment, navigation and pilot instruments will be on display. Painting of the exterior fuselage and upper wing surfaces will be in a camouflage pattern, dark sea grey and a dark insignia blue. The underside wings and lower fuselage will be matt black.
The LINK below is a video (courtesy of John Sharples - an RCA member) of the Puerto Rico dismantling, transport to Australia and the beginning of the restoration of the Catalina.
Rathmines Catalina Association partners with other organisations to support the establishment of an interpretive community centre to showcase 'Our Girl' as well as a vast memoriablea collection.
‘Our Girl’ manufacture data and registration history courtesy of David Legg at The Catalina Society:
BuNo 48412 (US Navy)
Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Trust, Rathmines, NSW and located at Kilaben
Under restoration to static exhibit
BuNo 48412 (US Navy)/N10024/ N96R/YV-P-EPX/ YV-P-EPZ/ YV-O-CFO-4/YV-56CP/ YV-585CP/YV-485C