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Double Sunrise Service


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In 1943, Royal Australian Air Force personnel were seconded to operate Catalinas under the banner of Qantas. The plan called for flights between Perth, Western Australia, and RAF Base Koggala in southern Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). The flights were the longest non-stop air route of any airline, over 3,500 nautical miles (6,480 km) across the Indian Ocean. Navigating without the aid of radio, the crews relied solely on rudimentary navigation by compass and stars during the trip.




Only Catalinas had that kind of range, so five PBY-5 flying boats were converted to make them suitable for the trip.

They received camouflage paint, extra fuel tanks, and a RAAF roundel on the fuselage, but also a civilian registration, since they were officialy operated by Qantas, and they were named after the stars they would be using for navigation:

Vega Star (G-AGFL/FP221 - tail code 1)

Altair Star (G-AGFM/FP244 - tail code 2)

Rigel Star (G-AGID/JX575 - tail code 3)

Antares Star (G-AGIE/JX577 - tail code 4)

Spica Star (G-AGKS/JX287 - tail code 5)

They carried no guns.




Taking between 27 and 33 hours, with departure timed so that the flight crossed Japanese occupied territory during darkness, the crews would observe the sunrise twice, which led to the service being known as "The Double Sunrise". The flight route flown was along the coast from Perth to Exmouth then setting out towards Cocos (Keeling) Island or Christmas Island (though neither was actually sighted during the flight) and onto Kogalla, a journey of approximately 3,580 nautical miles (6,630 km). After the success of the initial flights, it was decided to run a weekly service, with some services flying over Rottnest Island and then taking a direct line to Kogalla. As part of the Australia-England air route there was a surface component from Kogalla to Karachi that added considerable time to the service. This was later replaced by the Double Sunrise service, with Karachi to England flown by BOAC. Air crews would change in Kogalla taking the next plane in either direction minimising the time taken to complete the journey.




Though stripped of all non-essential equipment, including de-icing equipment and insulation, the average takeoff weight was 15,900 to 16,000 kg; this included 9,040 liters of fuel, which gave the Catalina a range of 3,600 nautical miles (6,700 km).





The service made 271 crossings, delivered over 4,500 kg of mail and carried 860 passengers, including among them British MP Edith Summerskill and the journalist Keith Murdoch. 'The Secret Order of The Double Sunrise' was an illustrated certificate given to passengers aboard the flying boats of the Australia-England air link, to attest they had been airborne for more than 24 hours.




After the war the five modified Catalinas were scuttled, so the original aircraft have gone. Recently however, a Catalina was flown to Australia, and can now be seen in the Qantas museum in Longreach, painted in the colors of one of the Double Sunrise Service aircraft.



Slapping paint on flightsim models

you'll find all my FSX/P3D repaints here and all my MSFS repaints here.

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Slapping paint on flightsim models

you'll find all my FSX/P3D repaints here and all my MSFS repaints here.

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Interesting story and a great airplane. The Aerosoft Catalina seems to be a little bit underrated- IMHO it looks to be a very good addon, but not many people have/fly it.
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