Rathmines Catalina: 'Our Girl' restoration updates

February 2021

A flying start to 2021

 Following on from the October Restoration Update, we finished the year extremely well with volunteer numbers increased and productivity hours exceeding 2019 figures by nearly 10%, even though we were out of action from the 23 March for two months when the site was closed due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

 The Centre Wing Spar has visibly progressed with numerous angle and web corrosion eliminated and replaced, the first underside sheet is ready to be riveted into place and preparation is underway for subsequent sheets to be prepared and fitted.

The main landing wheels and accessories are fitted and stored to the side, to allow the wheel well accessories to be fitted and personnel access along the deck.

The hull repair is well underway, with selected sheeting removed and corroded stringer “z” sections replaced and preparation prior to sheet replacement is well advanced.

Preparation of the external fuselage from the tail to the rear of the blisters has just commenced, ready for the final coats of paint in our preferred camouflage pattern. This is a huge undertaking and will take many months to prepare and paint.

The deck canopy is also undergoing a complete makeover, with new uprights and rails, arches and battens along with new replacement tarpaulins. We have already seen a big improvement on the previous “temporary structure” which has withstood the battering of high winds and rain for the past five or so years.

2021 will be an exciting year as “Our Girl” starts to receive many of the finishing touches, particularly to the fuselage and most of all the interior as the finished coats of paint allow the many and varied internal components to be installed. 

Terry Fahey

Restoration Coordinator

February to July 2020 Report 

Progress slowed by COVID

We are nearly halfway through the year and work on “Our Girl” was progressing very well and then a little bug came along and stopped us (and the rest of the world) in our tracks, forcing us to suspend restoration work on 23rd March.

It is timely to reflect on the tough times that businesses are experiencing at the moment and in particular, the many and varied Supporters and Festival Sponsors that contribute immensely to the success of the Catalina restoration and the effective running of the Catalina Festival.  it is important we support the local businesses in our local area in any way we can.

With the “COVID-19” rules staring to be relaxed, hopefully we will be back restoring the Catalina sooner rather than later and as outlined to volunteers on the 23rd March, we will have the modified hygiene rules in place to protect everyone as best we can.

Our goal at the beginning of the year was to have the fuselage largely repaired enough by the end of 2020, to allow the inside of “Our Girl” to be painted, enabling us to commence re-assembly of the internals.

This is still a possibility and would be a huge morale booster for the volunteers after the many years of hard work, replacing and repairing the corroded aluminium sheets.

A big thank you to the volunteers for their efforts to date and please stay safe.

December 2019/January 2020 Report

2019 has seen great progress in the restoration of ‘Our Girl’

Progress update summary

  • The restoration progress over the last 3 months has continued strongly, achieving excellent progress on both the fuselage and centre wing, visible in the form of shiny new sheets of aluminium.
  • The front landing wheel bay has been painted and looks excellent, installation of the mechanical components has commenced. The main landing gear wheel wells will follow and we estimate these will be painted and assembled by mid-year.
  • We should be very close to having the fixed blisters manufactured and the fuselage/hull repaired by the end of 2020 and ready to paint the inside of the aircraft. At a guess, the top half of the Centre Wing spar should also be close to being repaired and ready to turn the Centre Wing over and start work on the underside by early 2021.
  • The restoration team has taken some time off over January for rest and relaxation.  The intense heat has also reduced some operational time.

As an association, our immediate concentration is to be as organised and advanced with the restoration as possible, to allow us to participate as best we can in the RAAF’s Centenary celebrations in 2021.

Equipment donations

  • We have received donations from several unrelated sources in the form of general and specialised tools, purpose-built scaffolding, benches, etc., and RCA purchases of much needed cutting and folding metalworking machinery.
  • A local private collector has also gifted the Rathmines Catalina Association with numerous genuine radios and associated equipment as used on the Catalina aircraft and at the Radio Transmitting Rooms on the Rathmines Air Base during WWII.
  • RAAF Heritage have also been proactive, assisting the RCA to acquire two Pratt & Whitney R-1830-92 engines which were surplus to their requirements.
    ... For all of these we are very grateful !

Onsite safety

With the growing number of volunteers attending each workday we have identified for some time a requirement for a defibrillator (AED) to be kept on site. With the assistance of a NSW Government Grant, the RCA recently purchased an AED which complements our trained First Aid representatives and gives us the confidence and an assurance that we are as well prepared as we can be, for most medical conditions on site.

In the same vein, we have commenced an automatic re-ordering system for our volunteer Personal Protective Equipment, with a standard max/min order replenishment each month, ensuring a regular supply of safety equipment at all times.

Terry Fahey
Restoration Coordinator


We are constantly looking for volunteers to help with the Catalina restoration and effective running of the Rathmines Catalina Association. 

Whether ‘hands-on’ working on the Catalina or assisting with the Association’s many other tasks, whatever your skillset we have a role for you! 

For information and to discuss how your skills and experience can fit in, please contact

Bill Anderson (President)  0418 770 400
Terry Woolard (Volunteer Coordinator) 0437 170 343 
Terry Fahey (Restoration Coordinator) 0490 487 985

Rathmines Catalina Memorial Park Association Incorporated is a non-profit organisation, trading as RATHMINES CATALINA Association
ADDRESS: PO Box 59, Toronto NSW 2283 AUSTRALIA

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