Marine, underwater photographs made by John Harding from his time as editor of FATHOM magazine (Australia).
In early 1942, the (RAAF), experiencing air attacks on towns in northern Australia, found itself unable to obtain British-designed interceptors or sufficient numbers of P-40s. US Fifth Air Force squadrons in Australia were already receiving the brand new P-39D-1. Consequently, in July 1942, older USAAF P-39s, which had been repaired at Australian workshops, were adopted by the RAAF as a stop-gap interceptor.
Seven P-39Ds were sent to No. 23 Squadron RAAF at Lowood, Queensland. Later, seven P-39Fs were operated by No. 24 Squadron RAAF at Townsville. In the absence of adequate supplies of P-39s, both squadrons also operated Wirraway armed trainers. However, neither squadron received a full complement of Airacobras, or saw combat with them. The home air defence role was filled first by P-40s, followed by Spitfires. Plans to equip two more squadrons with P-39s were also abandoned. 23 and 24 Squadrons converted to the Vultee Vengeance in 1943.
Photo’s by JOHN HARDING for Peer Productions, Cairns, Queensland
click to enlarge
We went 250 miles offshore in this tiny fishing boat. A great adventure with a pioneer of The Great Barrier Reef, Captain Wally Muller- later of Coralita charter boat notoriety. Coralita was Australia’s first scuba dive boat on the GBR, launched in 1969.
Wally Muller built Coralita which was launched in 1969. Originally it was intended as a cruise boat working the islands and reefs offshore on the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef. The vessel, while being an excellent open sea craft was prone to ‘rocking wildly’ at anchor. Tourists were often seasick. Wally Muller then turned to fishing and diving charters. Through his friendship with Ron Taylor and John Harding (then the founding editor of FATHOM) he was able to attract local and overseas scuba divers, especially from USA. Hollywood producers seeking shark scenes obtained these in The Coral Sea. Wally returned to Saumarez Reef several times and found a magnificent bommie in 100 feet of water that rose to 30 feet under the surface. Modestly named “Wal’s Bommie” it was for a short time one of the best scuba dive locations known. Today the location would be ‘lost’. Although Wally Muller chartered and named many reefs in The Swain Reefs, only one retains one of his original names “Riversong Cay”.
Underwater models of today might enjoy researching the films of Esther Williams. Hollywood movies based around synchronized pool swimming were big in the 1950′s and no expense was spared in their production. Esther was the queen of the era.
I spotted this poster at a town west of Townsville, Queensland called Ravenswood. It was 1978 so the poster is unlikely to be still on display.
Gina Taylor (pictured) and I did presented our underwater film show in the local hall that night, just for fun. The roll-up was surprisingly good for a ‘ghost town’, formerly a gold mining boom town.
A pair of hotels remained open, otherwise it’s worth a visit to see the main street with old shops with wooden footpaths, just like a Hollywood western movie.