The RAF Museum Seagull V is one of 24 of the type ordered for the Royal Australian Navy. On 3 December 1935, the amphibian made its maiden flight from Southampton Water prior to dismantling and crating for shipment to Australia. Taken on charge by No 1 Aircraft Depot at Laverton, Victoria on 21 February 1936, it was allotted to No 101 (Fleet Co-Operation) Flight at Point Cook the following month.
On 8 February 1937, A2-4 embarked on HMAS Australia, and the next day made its first catapult launch from the 10,000-tonne heavy cruiser. During late April, A2-4 went on a ‘detached duty’ trip to the Northern Territory with anthropologist Dr Donald Thompson aboard, mapping aboriginal tribal boundaries in the Arnhem Land area in the Northern Territory and surveying the northern Australian coastline.
A2-4 embarked on light cruiser HMAS Perth in mid-July 1940, but was to suffer extensive gunfire blast damage to the wings and tail, repairs being carried out by Qantas in October upon disembarkation. It was then converted to target-towing configuration, but in April 1943 returned to operational service, being flown from Bowen on the Queensland coast for antisubmarine patrols and co-operation duties with the US Army. For such purposes, on 26 June 1943 the twin gas-operated Vickers guns were removed from the aft mounting and relocated to a forward mounting, in order to suppress return fire from any submarines encountered. Further modifications saw single guns fitted front and rear in October 1943.
The Seagull was sold off on 3 October 1946 for £600, going into storage in the Sydney area for several years before receiving its first certificate of airworthiness in April 1961 as VH-ALB. The following year it was acquired by Barrier Reef Flying Boat Service, operating from Mackay, Queensland to transport light cargo and passengers — usually tourists — up and down the coast and to the islands of the Great Barrier Reef.
The aircraft made its last flight from Bankstown, Sydney on 27 January 1970, being badly damaged after suffering engine failure shortly after take-off. During May 1972 A2-4 was acquired by the RAF Museum, and was airlifted back to the UK in two loads on No 53 Squadron Shorts Belfasts.
Restoration commenced in the spring of 1973, the hull going to RAF Wyton where work was undertaken by a volunteer team. The wings were rebuilt by RAF Museum staff at Cardington, and the completed aircraft went on display in the newly opened Battle of Britain Hall at Hendon in November 1979.