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Amphibious biplane A9-6 wrecked on HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

Date: 25 August 1934
Overall: 125 x 92 mm
Medium: Silver gelatin print
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Philip Stafford Jay
Object Name: Photograph
Object No: 00029058
Related Place:Leeuwin, Cape,

User Terms

    This photograph shows crew attending to the upturned amphibious biplane Seagull III A9-6 on HMAS AUSTRALIA.

    On the reverse of the photograph is typed: "As we rounded Cape Leeuwin in '34 we caught a terrific gust of wind, which blew the plane off its mount wrecking it. As its flying time had only some 16 hours to go, it was decided to destroy it on Dirk Har-tog [sic] Island."
    SignificanceThis photograph records the wrecking of the Seagull III A9-6 aboard HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) in August 1934.
    HistorySix Seagull III amphibious biplanes joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in 1926, and undertook surveying duties of the Great Barrier Reef and New Guinea based from a shore station at Point Cook, Victoria and later Richmond, New South Wales. Additional Seagull IIIs joined the RAAF, and with the introduction of aircraft carrier HMAS ALBATROSS to the Royal Australian Navy in 1929, six were hoisted on board. Once ALBATROSS was laid up in 1932, the remaining Seagull IIIs were transferred to the cruisers HMA Ships CANBERRA and AUSTRALIA.

    During a voyage of HMAS AUSTRALIA from Devonport, Tasmania to Bunbury, Western Australia in 1934, gale force winds tore the eyebolt which was anchoring the Seagull III A9-6 plane to the ship. It was overturned onto one of the ship's a 4-inch guns, and was wrecked. The plane was taken to Dirk Hartog Island, Western Australia, and destroyed on a beach at Shark Bay.

    HMAS AUSTRALIA (II) was a County class heavy cruiser built by John Brown & Co Ltd of Clydebank, Scotland and launched in March 1927. AUSTRALIA was commissioned into the Royal Australian Navy on 24 April 1928, and four months later departed Portsmouth arriving in Sydney on 23 October. The vessel spent six years with the Australia Station, and in December 1934 sailed for England. AUSTRALIA served with the British forces until July 1936, and returned to Australia arriving in Sydney on 11 August 1936. The ship remained in Australian waters, with the exception of cruises to New Zealand and New Guinea between April and July 1937. On 24 April 1938, AUSTRALIA was paid off into Reserve, but was recommissioned in August 1939.

    During World War II, the ship's complement increased from 679 to 848, and AUSTRALIA conducted operations in the Indian and South Atlantic Oceans acting as a convoy escort and protecting shipping routes. The ship also served in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Guadalcanal invasion, the Battle of Leyte Gulf and allied landings at Lingayen Gulf.

    On 21 October 1944 AUSTRALIA was damaged when a Japanese fighter plane collided with the ship, killing the commanding officer Captain E F V Dechaineux and several others. Whether or not it was a kamikaze attack has been the subject of much speculation. After attacks in January 1945, AUSTRALIA underwent a major refit in the UK and stayed there for the remainder of the war. AUSTRALIA returned to Sydney on 16 February 1946. The cruiser was mainly used as a training ship, and was eventually sold for scrap in January 1955 and broken up at Barrow-in-Furness, UK in 1956.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: HMAS AUSTRALIA

    Web title: Amphibious biplane A9-6 wrecked on HMAS AUSTRALIA (II)

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