Sunderland inside at MOTAT

With the vertical tail removed, Sunderland V NZ4115 about to be moved into the main aviation display hall at MOTAT on 12 September.

Recently repainted Short Sunderland V NZ4115 was moved into the new aircraft display hangar at the Museum of Transport and Technology in Auckland, New Zealand on 12 September, the first time the former Royal New Zealand Air Force flying boat had been under cover since being donated in 1967.

Restoration of the Antipodes’ only surviving Sunderland will continue, the next steps being to repair the internal lighting, refurbish the gun turrets — which are currently painted overall white — and restore the interior. Repairs to the keel were completed before the move. This has also seen MOTAT’s other big boat, Short Solent IV ZK-AMO, moving out of the hangar to provide space for the ongoing Sunderland restoration, which needs another NZ$120,000 to be brought to completion. Eventually, both aircraft will be displayed in the main hall, which will become the only place in the world where two of Short Brothers’ majestic boats can be seen together.

“This is the first time the former Royal New Zealand Air Force flying boat has been under cover since being donated to MOTAT in 1967”

The machine is one of 16 Sunderland Vs ordered by the RNZAF in 1952, the air arm having operated four MkIIIs since 1944. It served with No 5 Squadron at Lauthala Bay, Fiji, the type finally being withdrawn from service in 1967. One other Sunderland survived in New Zealand: after being stripped for spares during 1966, NZ4112 went to the Hobsonville Yacht Club for use as a clubhouse. Unfortunately, the increasingly weather-beaten machine was scrapped during 1973, although the flight deck and nose section were donated to the Ferrymead Aeronautical Society at Christchurch, where restoration is under way.