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  PBY Catalina Serial Number A24-3  
11 Squadron

Former Assignments
Qantas Empire Airways
STF (Seaplane Training Flight)

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IJN February 28, 1942

Aircraft History
Built by Consolidated at San Diego. Purchased by Qantas Empire Airways (QEA) and flown across the Pacific to Australia. Registered in Australia as VH-AFD.

Wartime History
On February 27, 1941 assigned to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as Catalina A24-3 at Rose Bay. On May 30, 1941 assigned to 11 Squadron. On May 14, 1941 assigned to 20 Squadron. On January 8, 1942 allotted to Seaplane Training Flight (STF). On January 19, 1942 reassigned to 11 Squadron. No known nickname or nose art.

Wartime History
During the night of February 3, 1942, this Catalina took off from Fairfax Harbor near Port Moresby piloted by Captain P/O B H Higgins, 400620 and co-pilot P/O T Duigan, 400082 night raid against Japanese shipping in Simpson Harbor off Rabaul. The formation included five Catalinas: this aircraft, A24-5, A24-18, A24-14, A24-17) that participated in a Over the target, this Catalina was attacked by A5M4 Claudes from the Chitose Kōkūtai (operating in tandem with the searchlight crews) and was damaged by several bullet holes in the hull and the radio operator was wounded in both ankles. This Catalina escaped further attacks by diving into cloud cover at 4,000' and returned to Fairfax Harbor at 20:10Z/3.

Wartime History
On February 28, 1942 moored off Napa Napa in Fairfax Harbor near Port Moresby. Six A6M2 Zeros from the A6M2 Zeros from the 4th Kokutai led by Harutoshi Okamoto strafed this flying boat, setting it on fire and set it adrift and sank. Electrician LAC Roderick John Nancarrow, 27601 working on one of the aircraft, believed to be Cataliana A24-3 was killed and missing during the attack. Also sunk was Catalina A24-6.

The presence of a wreck at this location has been known since the war on harbor survey maps. In early 2003, a PBY Catalina sunk off Napa Napa was rediscovered by the POMSAC (Port Moresby Sub-Aqua Club) during the construction of the InterOil Refinery and dock.

PBY Catalina sunk off Napa Napa has never been positively identified, but is either A24-3 or A24-6, one of the two Catalinas sunk on February 28, 1942. Aboard the wreck were twelve 250kg bombs. MilSearch was contracted to remove the ordnance.  The bombs were taken 10 miles out to sea and dumped. Also, wreck's machine guns were removed, angering the local dive community.

In addition, divers also located fragments of another wreck, probably the other Catalina near where the InterOil dock was constructed. According to staff of the company, during the construction of the dock, this wreck was covered with fill, and was not further investigated.

Nancarrow was officially declared dead the day of the attack. His body was never recovered and he is memorialized on the Port Moresby Memorial, panel 10 at Bomana War Cemetery.

11 Squadron diary for February 3, 1942
WW2 Nominal Roll - Roderick John Nancarrow
CWGC - Roderick John Nancarrow
Consolidated PBY Catalina by Michael McFadden

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Last Updated
September 25, 2018


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