RAAF 42 SQN Aircraft Code Letters tail numbers Request

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Sep 26, 2006

I am attempting to identify the tail number of the PBY-5/PBY-5A aircraft that my Father was armourer's assistant on during the last years of WWII.

During the end of 1944 into 1945 he was assigned to 42 SQN. He had a couple of photo's of Cat's but only one of "his" aircraft. He would refer to it as "Papa Kilo". Now I know from pictures and commentary in Stewart Wilson's excellent book on Catalina, Neptune and Orion in Australian Service that 42 SQN used RK as their SQN code. I am assuming that the third letter was assigned in a somewhat arbitrary manner. Now I have a photo of "Papa Kilo" taken during servicing. I scanned it and played with the contrast and brightness to discover that it's code letters were RK-P. Either Dad was remembering the letters in the wrong order or they swapped them around on purpose. Anyway, the downside is that the tail number is not visible as the tip of the main wing is blocking the tail number.

so I am hoping someone knows something about how the tail numbers and code letters were related. I would be also interested in hearing from anyone who either were posted to 42 SQN or knew my Dad.

His name was William Roy Smith. He would have gone by either Bill, Billy or Roy. He was posted to 42 SQN at the end of 1944 and was demustered in mid 1945. He had the rank of either LAC or CPL. I will post some photo's next week when I can get them onto this computer.

thanks in advance

It was also normal internally in "Squadron Speak" to refer to planes in that manner, still is to a degree where the plane is reffered to as an abreviation of its code number, "we are jumping from 03 today folks" means we are lobbing out from the C-130 "03" from 40 Squadron RNZAF.

Without looking up 42 Sqn designations it could be that there were two designators used for or within the squadron.

This happened with 75 SQN (NZ) RAF, A and B Flights were all AA coded, when C Flight was added they were JN coded. SO "Alpha Charlie" would be AA-C and "November Charlie" was JN-C from the same squadron.

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