Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum

The centrepiece of the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum in Lake Boga, Victoria is a restored Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat. The Catalina was restored and the museum was established, by the Lions Club of Lake Boga to commemorate the service men and women who served at the RAAF No. 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot, which was based at the lake from 1941 to 1947. I have visited the museum in 2006, 2013 and now again in 2017, and I am pleased to say the excellent collection and displays continue to grow and be updated. The big Cat looks good too!

RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat A24-30 at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum in Lake Boga, Victoria (March 2017)
RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boat A24-30 at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum in Lake Boga, Victoria (March 2017)
The Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina is a great restoration by the Lions Club of Lake Boga
The Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina is a great restoration by the Lions Club of Lake Boga (March 2017)
Catalina A24-30 at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
Catalina A24-30 at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina A24-30 in profile - Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina A24-30 in profile – Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF Consolidated PBY Catalina A24-69 of No. 11 Squadron being serviced at Lake Boga 31/08/1944
RAAF Consolidated PBY Catalina A24-69 of No. 11 Squadron being serviced at Lake Boga 31/08/1944 (Photo Source: Australian War Memorial – P00448.039)

The Catalina was one of the main types of flying boats operated by the RAAF, US Navy and Netherlands East Indies that was often at Lake Boga during World War Two (please see my earlier post for more info on war-time operations at the lake). The big cat at Lake Boga is presented as RAAF example A24-30 but is actually a composite of multiple airframes and parts scoured from all over, with the fuselage said to be the Dutch example used on the original A24-30.

PBY-5 A24-30 History

The original PBY-5 A24-30 was also a composite aircraft being made up of US Navy wings and engines from PBY-5 BuNo 2305, c/n 22 which was broken up for spares in Java in February 1942 due to being no longer flyable and a Dutch fuselage from MLD PBY-5 Model 28-5MN (Military Netherlands) coded Y-72 which was forced down in Java, suffering wing and engine damage which were replaced from the US Navy example (both aircraft were built in San Diego in 1941). The composite PBY-5 then joined USN Patrol Wing 10 and following the US withdrawal from the Philippines and the Netherlands East Indies in March 1942 relocated to operate out of Perth, Western Australia.

Flown to Rathmines, NSW the composite PBY-5 was accepted into RAAF service in July 1942, and allocated to Number 20 Squadron in October 1942 flying out of Cairns in North Queensland for Pacific operations over New Guinea. A24-30 was finally transferred to Number 3 Operational Training Unit (OTU) in February 1943 where it was eventually deemed unsuitable for continued operations. The aircraft was sold to Kingsford-Smith Aviation Service Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW in October 1946 and used for spare parts with the fuselage being sent to Lake Boga for scrapping.

Luckily the fuselage was saved when a local farmer from Nyah purchased it for parts to use on his property. It then sat under a tree on the farm for 40 years until it was donated to the Lake Boga Lions Club. What a history!

Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum The PBY-5 is fitted with a bow gun turret armed with a 0.30 caliber machine gun
The PBY-5 is fitted with a bow gun turret armed with a 0.30 caliber machine gun – the Perspex bomb sight window in the nose has a venetian blind type sliding cover to protect it against seawater (March 2017)
Inside the PBY-5 Catalina nose section and cockpit at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
Inside the PBY-5 Catalina nose section and cockpit at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum – the inside cockpit view photo was taken through the nose bomb sight window (March 2017)
Inside the rear section of the PBY-5 Catalina fuselage at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
Inside the rear section of the PBY-5 Catalina fuselage at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina lowered port wingtip float, starboard gun blister, removable beaching wheels and tailplane - Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
RAAF Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina lowered retractable port wingtip float, starboard gun blister, removable beaching wheels and Catalina tailplane – Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
Retracted starboard wing tip float, lowered port wing tip float and closed starboard gun blister on the Lake Boga Flyingboat Museum Catalina
Retracted starboard wing tip float, lowered port wing tip float and closed starboard gun blister on the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum Catalina (March 2017)

The new building of the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum was officially opened on April 21st, 2012 but the Catalina was on display in the open air from 1988 to 2010 next to the original secret underground communications bunker which was opened as the original museum in 1997 (the bunker remains a part of the museum today and is presented in a wartime like state. The new museum hangar was literally built around the Catalina). After many years of outdoor exposure the Catalina was restored again in 2011 to the standard you see today.

Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum - Lake Boga Victoria Australia
Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum – outside are memorials that include the 2 tonne concrete blocks that were used to tie down flying boats on the lake (March 2017)
Catalina at Lake Boga in 2006
The Catalina at Lake Boga in 2006. Exposed to the elements it was starting to look worse for wear back then
Lake Boga Catalina and the secret underground communications bunker that acted as the museum back in 2006
Lake Boga Catalina and the secret underground communications bunker that acted as the museum back in 2006
Lake Boga Welcome Sign
The Lake Boga Welcome Sign in 2013
The secret underground communications bunker at Lake Boga in 2013
The secret underground communications bunker at Lake Boga in 2013
Inside the secret underground communications bunker at Lake Boga in 2013 - it is set up to represent the way it would have looked in World War Two
Inside the secret underground communications bunker at Lake Boga in 2013 – it is set up to represent the way it would have looked in World War Two

The museum also houses numerous artefacts from the RAAF No. 1 Flying Boat Repair Depot days, plus vehicles, models and aircraft parts including the nose of a former Royal Netherlands Naval Air Service – Marine Luchtvaartdienst (MLD) Dornier Do 24K flying boat (of unknown identity in regards to a serial number – Dutch units that were operating in the East Indies when Japan invaded in 1942 were relocated to continue the fight from Australia in February 1942 as part of the RAAF and from April 1942 six Do 24’s were given RAAF serial numbers A49-1 to A49-6) that has been restored after years of being used as a houseboat on the Murray River (it was powered by an internal engine and the steering wheel was operated from the pilot’s seat)! I remember seeing the houseboat on the river as a kid but by the late 1990’s it was apparently stored on dry land in a pretty bad state in Moama until it was acquired by the museum in 2010.

The unidentified nose section of the ex-Dutch Dornier Do 24K flying boat at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
The unidentified nose section of the ex-Dutch Dornier Do 24K flying boat at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF Dornier Do 24K A49-4 with No.41 Squadron code "DQ-G".  Three 750hp Wright R18300-F52 Cyclones            Photo: The Collection p1717-0007
Ex-Dutch RAAF Dornier Do 24K A49-4 with No. 41 Squadron at Lake Boga post 1942 (Photo Source: The Collection p1717-0007 via goodall.com.au)
Artefacts, photos and Catalina parts at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
Artefacts, photos and Catalina parts at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017) – Imagine buying a Catalina for £1,000!
Models, engines, aircraft parts and an old tractor used for moving aicraft at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
Models, engines, aircraft parts including from an RAAF Martin PBM Mariner tail and an old Caterpillar tractor used for moving aircraft at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
A restored Willy's Jeep, models and RAAF artifacts at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum
A restored Willy’s Jeep, models and RAAF artifacts at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF artifacts and Lake Boga photos at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)
RAAF artifacts and Lake Boga photos at the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum (March 2017)

 

References:

ADF Serials – RAAF Catalina’s

ADF Serials – Saga of Catalina A24-30

Dornier Do 24 in Australia by Geoff Goodall

Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum

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4 thoughts on “Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum

  1. Very cool post – thanks for sharing! Those Catalinas, especially, were wonderful aircraft. There is ONE flying example in New Zealand – restored in the US and brought out here by enthusiasts. I was hoping to see it in the air in February at Napier’s annual Art Deco weekend, but its visit was cancelled because there weren’t enough pilots – as you can imagine, they handle the thing like it’s made of eggshells and don’t let just anybody take it aloft. And then bad weather cancelled ALL flying, including planned displays by a P-40, P-51 and Spitfire X 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks Matthew. I really like the look of the Catalina – a classic flying boat design. The weather has caused myself and oh so many of us a lot of grief at air shows over the years! I would like to see the one in NZ fly someday!

    Like

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