Photos: PBY-5

Here's a Black Cat (close-up) doing something other than stalking by night. VP-11 evacuated over 200 Australian troops about to be trapped by the Japanese. The Australians were quite nonchalant, offering the Americans cup after cup of tea as the Japanese drew within two miles! Not only did the Sepik River make for some pretty awful tea, but landing on and taking off from the fast-flowing river with heavily-loaded planes greatly compounded the danger: only twice as wide as a PBY in some places, the Sepik has turns and carries with it a lot of debris that can easily tear open your hull.

I believe this is Bob O'Conner's photo, donated to R. Lawson's collection by William Scarborough. You can see more of Mr. O'Conner's photos on

VP-11, Sepik R. Dec '43, Evac Australian troops
Black Cats
Bob O'Conner

(Photo from the R.L.Lawson collection, courtesy of the Nat'l Museum of Naval Aviation)