Last edited 15 October 2021
REPUBLIC RC-3 SEABEE IN AUSTRALIA
Compiled by Geoff Goodall


Republic RC-3 Seabee VH-KNA at Lake Eildon Victoria, moored among houseboats in November 1979.         Photo by Mike Madden

         Production of the RC-3 Seabee amphibian commenced in 1946 by the Republic Aviation Corporation at Farmingdale, New York with a view to breaking into the post-war civil market. It was an essential step in keeping the company's wartime production facilities operational when World War II militarty aircraft orders were cancelled.  The Seabee was an all metal 4-seater powered by a pusher-configured 215hp Franklin 6A8-215-B9F engine. 1,060 Seabees had been built when the production line was shut down in October 1947 when Republic abandoned civil sales to concentrate on military aircraft.

        
Applications to import a new production Seabee were submitted to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) by Allison Gray Ltd, Sydney on 25 October 1946, and by Dowd Corset Co, Melbourne on 28 August 1947. Both were refused because of Australian Government restrictions on trading in US Dollars under the financial regulations of the post-war economy. 

         The first Seabee to operate in Australasia was N6213K, which was acquired in USA in December 1954 by the US-financed World Wide Air Services at Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. This company was an associate of Bahamas Helicopters Ltd and World Wide Helicopters Inc in USA.  N6213K was operated in support of oil surveys alongside World Wide's large fleet of helicopters and PBY-5 Catalinas, which were also initially US registered.  The Seabee became VH-WWA but after a short period in service flying from rivers, it was retired and later sold in Australia. In a summary of World Wide Air Service's New Guinea operations written by DCA PNG Superintendent of Operations, Ray Harris wrote somewhat unkindly on the Seabee's performance in the hot tropical weather conditions: "A single-engined amphibious Seabee was imported, and, after trials, exported as quickly as possible".

           Despite their sometimes poor performance with the original 215hp Franklin engine, Seabees were operated in Australia on various commercial ventures, also for pleasure flight by enthusiastic private owners.  However the end of technical support and parts for the Franklin engine effectively ended their flying lives.  Various alternative engines have been used overseas and a recent Australian import N6166K will be fitted with a new generation engine.


Six Seabees have been imported to Australia.  They are listed in order of arrival:

                           RC-3                   c/n 416                                              N6213K, VH-WWA, VH-MJO, H4-HSD, VH-WET
27.2.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation.
Manufacture date on airframe construction plate.
2.47
Registered NC6213K: Livingston Airways Corp, Livingstone Airport, Waterloo Iowa (dealer)
24.2.47
Republic delivery date to customer
27.2.47
Sold to Aero-Marine Corporation, Burlington, Iowa
8.6.47
Logbook entry: landed on water to rescue 2 women
.49
Re-registered N6213K under revised US aircraft registration regulations. Same owner
24.5.50
Sold to State of Alabama, Department of Conservation, Montgomery Alabama.
6.8.53
Sold to W. Troy Barrett & Charles E. Owen, Carbondale, Illinois
20.8.54
Sold to A-F Helicopters Inc, San Fernando California
12.54
Operated by World Wide Air Services, Port Moresby Papua New Guinea
Flown by WWAS as N6213K, in support of oil exploration work by WWAS Catalinas and helicopters.
11.56
Aircraft inspection report: total airframe time 603 hrs
57
DCA allocated Australian registrations to WWAS aircraft still operating in New Guinea:
VH-WWA to Seabee N6213K, VH-WWB to Catalina
N68753 and VH-WWC to Catalina N68766.
57
N6213K retired by WWAS and stored at Port Moresby PNG, pending sale
6.12.57
Application to import a Seabee submitted to DCA by P. K. Gerakiteys, Maitland NSW.
He had an option to purchase N6213K, which was retired and stored at Port Moresby PNG.
Import approved but it would be subject to DCA "First of Type" Certification procedure, requiring submission of manufacturer's design strength calculations and performance data,plus performance testing of this aircafft which is 10 years old.
25.7.59
Registered VH-WWA World Wide Air Services. Port Moresby PNG

Australian CofA issued at Port Moresby
16.11.59
Change of ownership: Peter K. Gerakiteys, Maitland NSW

Ferried from Port Moresby by the owner. Based in the Royal Newcastle Aero Club hangar at the newly-opened West Maitland Airport, also named Rutherford. It had been established by DCA to replace the original Broadmeadow airfield at Newcastle which was closed because of encroaching industrial development.

Royal Newcastle Aero Club veteran pilot Bill Hitchcock wrote in Rag & Tube magazine March 1979:
"Peter Gerakiteys purchased the 'Bee VH-WWA from World Wide in 1958 and he and another club member Gerry Backhouse flew it from New Guinea to Maitland. They suffered a keel landing on one of the grass strips in Queensland on the way down the coast but jacked the aircraft up and repaired the offending hydraulic pump and were on their way again without much delay. Peter repainted her a deep maroon because the paint was very faded and weather-beaten when he brought her to Maitland.
We used to fly from Maitland to Lake Macquarie nearly every weekend. It was a flying brick but we still had a lot of fun. I can remember Bill Winch beating us up in his Comper Swift (VH-ACG) on one of our trips back to Maitland. Peter also owned the Chrislea Ace VH-BRO at the same time so he had an unusual pair of aircraft."
3.61
Sold to Commodore Aviation Ltd, Port Lincoln SA
Business formed that year by Port Lincoln pilots John C. Doudy and Ron Fuller with Auster VH-RAD for charter and fish spotting for the tuna fishing fleet.
1.4.61
VH-WWA departed Bankstown on delivery to Port Lincoln SA flown by John Doudy. His log book shows Bankstown-Griffith-Hay 1.4.61; next day Hay-Mildura-Cowell-Port Lincoln
7.7.61
noted Parafield Airport, Adelaide for maintenance, also 5.62, 13.9.62.
Deep maroon all over with white trim, Seabee motif painted on the nose
10.62
Traded to Dulmison (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney, Czech aircraft agents as part-payment for new Aero 145.  See Aeo 45/145 page this site
12.10.62
Seabee ferried Parafield-Nhill-Moorabbin by John Doudy. Left parked in the open at Moorabbin for the next year while Dulmison attempted to find a buyer
19.10.62
Change of ownership: Dulmison (Australia) Pty Ltd, Bankstown NSW
22.12.62
noted at Moorabbin parked outside. Unmoved 20.1.63, 10.5.63, 29.6.63, 20.7.63, paintwork fading
10.1.64
noted at Bankstown in Aero Club hangars, also 9.2.64, 20.6.64
7.64
noted at Bankstown, parked outside. The maroon paintwork had faded to dark brown
12.64
Advertised for sale by Central Aircraft Exchange, Bankstown: CofA expired, brown paint scheme. Listed price 2100
10.5.65
Reregistered VH-MJO: K. E. Olsen, Coolah NSW, changed to c/- Notley Aviation, Camden NSW
10.5.65
Struck-off Register (same day). Aircraft required significant maintenance to be made airworthy
24.6.65
noted at Camden still marked VH-WWA. It had been moved by road from Bankstown. Undergoing maintenance for Mr. K.E.Olsen. The new registration letters are the initials of the his wife.
21.9.65
noted at Camden outside Notley Aviation hangar, assembled and repainted all white, but no registration painted on airframe
24.10.65
noted at Camden under maintenance in Notley Aviation hangar.
7.2.66
noted at Camden parked outside, all white, VH-MJO painted on top of wing only.
Also 12.2.66, 4.12.66. 10.1.67
70
Acquired by Gregory R. Board, 178 McCarrs Creek Road, Church Point, Sydney NSW
Board had recently returned home to Sydney after an extensive flying career overseas. He was establishing Research Aviation and Mineralair at Camden with a Norseman and Piaggio P166. The Seabee would be for his private use to commute to Camden from the river behind his house on Sydney's Pittwater.
18.9.70
noted at Camden, taxying after major inspection at Skyservice Aviation, repainted white & bronze.
17.12.70
Restored to Register: G. R. Board, Sydney NSW
4.71
noted at Church Point at Board's house on a river jetty
20.5.71
noted at Mascot, parked near Flight Facilities. Also 24.5.71, 2.72 active
18.8.72
Change of ownership: William F. Suhr, Moorabbin Vic t/a Peninsula Air Services, Moorabbin Vic
Purchased for a contract to operate shark patrols along Melbourne beaches for radio station 3DB.
8.72
Based at Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne at the PAS hangar. VH-MJO would be a well known sight patrolling Melbourne beaches most summer months for the next 14 years, in various bright paint schemes as "The Flying Tadpole"
5.10.72
Minor damage at Moorabbin when landed with undercarriage only partly extended
9.11.72
visited Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport “3DB Flying Tadpole”
4.1.79
Minor damage in accident Moorabbin
3.10.86
Change of ownership: I.B.Baillie, Moorabbin Airport Vic t/a Ian Baillie Aircraft Sales
11.86
Advertised for sale at Moorabbin by Ian Baillie Aircraft Sales, all new windows, freshly repainted,
total airframe time 1760 hours
19.2.87
Passed through Bankstown en route to Port Macquarie and Queensland to be demonstrated to a prospective buyer
26.3.87
Change of ownership: Montchel Pty Ltd, Southport Qld. Operated joyrides at Coolangatta Airport.
31.1.92
Change of ownership: R. W. Grouse, Wulguru Qld
5.3.92
Change of address: R. W. Grouse, Honiara, Solomon Islands
6.3.92
Flew Townsville-Mareeba-Cairns during delivery flight to Honiara. Continued to Port Moresby 7.3.92, delivery pilot Brian “Blackjack” Walker
24.6.92
Struck off Australian Register
.92
Registered H4-HSD: Pacific Air Services Ltd, Honiara, Solomon Islands

No details on its use in Solomon Islands
18.7.98
struck-off Solomon Islands Register, exported to Australia
8.1.99
Registered VH-WET:  Terence van de Graaf, Bowen Qld
27.1.03
noted at Mackay Airport Qld parked in open, blue and white
10.3.06
noted at Mackay parked in open, blue and white paintwork badly faded by weather exposure
6.7.06
Struck-off Register, no CofA issued
2.08
VH-WET was immersed in flood waters a metre deep which covered areas of Mackay Airport.
9.10
Moved from Mackay Airport by now
10.13
VH-WET noted at Tantawan airfield, Thailand
2.15
By now moved to Mr. Paisal Phoprasert's Army Surplus Store ("War Collection"), Muek Lek, Mitraphap Road, Thailand: paint stripped, bare metal, wings attached.
5.16
noted at the surplus store, now repainted in red and white US Navy scheme, wings removed
6.15
Unveiled as new exhibit at Chokchai Museum, Pak Chong, Thailand.
Repainted in fictitious red and white "US Navy" markings, displayed with retired Thai Air Force jets and a Fairchild C-123 as well as a variety of cars and military vehicles.

The bogus US Navy paintwork includes the US civil registration "N64RN" under the tailplane.
It is assumed that the paintshop was given a picture of a Seabee N64PN currently flying in USA painted in the same US Navy red and white scheme.

Current, displayed at Chokchai Museum


VH-WWA at Parafield SA in June 1961 while in service with Commodore Aviation.             John Hopton Collection


VH-WWA at Moorabbin Vic May 1963 while parked in the open here for a year awaiting resale.    Photo by Geoff Goodall


Bankstown July 1964, by now weather exposure had worn the glossy dark maroon paintwork to a dull brown.
Photo by Dave Eyre


VH-MJO at Camden NSW January 1967, overhaul discontinued, with new registration on the upper wing surface only.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


Sydney Airport May 1971 now flown privately by Sydney aviation identity Greg Board.       Photo by Dave Eyre


Greg Board kept the Seabee at his Pittwater home on the water's edge. Two views in April 1971 by Roger McDonald





Moorabbin Vic October 1973 now with Peninsular Air Services, flying beach shark patrols for Melbourne radio station 3DB
Photo by R.A.Scholefield



One of many changes of paint scheme, Moorabbin 1976.                                     Photo by Ben Dannecker


Moorabbin November 1978.                                                                          Photo by David Carter


Moorabbin April 1985 in the final paint scheme worn while with Peninsular Air Services.    Photo by Mike Madden


Coolangatta Qld in October 1990.                                                                                   Photo by Paul Daw


Mackay Qld 2005 back from the Solomon Islands, now registered VH-WET but with flat tyres and weathered paintwork.
Photo by Ian McDonell


In February 2015 VH-WET appeared in a salvage yard at Muek Lek, Thailand. Its paintwork was removed except for the
blue wingtips, ready for a repaint into a bogus US Navy scheme for a museum.
      Photo by MacAlan Thompson


VH-WET painted in a fictitious US Navy scheme, displayed at Chokchai Museum, Thailand in January 2016.
Photo by Steve Ozel



Side view in the museum shows the tail markings.                                                         Photo by Marc Braun


And this is almost certainly the inspiration for the Thai museum Seabee paintwork.....
Seabee N64PN (c/n 749) at Carson City Nevada June 2009 with a new generation engine driving a 4 bladed propeller.
Presumably a photograph of N64PN was used to repaint VH-WET
in an identical scheme, down to the incongruous
US civil registration under the tailplane, which was changed to the invalid "N64RN" just to stay different.
Photo by Geoff Goodall

                           RC-3                    c/n 668                                                                          VH-KNA, (VH-CBZ)
.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation.

Registered NC6243K Hughes Flying Service, Lansing, Michigan
15.4.47
Republic delivery date to customer
49
Re-registered N6243K under revised US aircraft registration regulations.
-
Owned by James L. Pearce, North American Aviation Inc, Columbus Ohio
-
Owned by Holderman family, Columbus Ohio.
Named “Wild Goose”, often flown to McGregor Bay, Ontario Canada for family holidays.
12.7.57
Australian import application to DCA: W. H. Kenny, Sunnybank Qld

Shipped from USA to Australia. Assembled at Tamworth NSW by Tamworth Aviation Services, who at that time were Australian agents for Republic Aviation Corp
29.10.57
Struck-off US Civil Register due exported
31.12.57
Registered VH-KNA: W. Harold Kenny, Brisbane Qld. To be based Rabaul
10.1.58
Australian CofA issued. DCA NSW Region recommended issue of 12 month CofA from 10.1.58 but Head Office issued only a restricted CofA 10.1.58 to 24.1.58. Extended to the full 12 months validity after successful completion of water performance testing during Janaury 1958.
21.3.58
DCA Charter licence issued to W. H. Kenny for operations in New Britain & New Ireland.
Harold Kenny operated as
Kenair Air Services, Rabaul, New Britain

12.8.58: DCA Import Permit issued to W.H.Kenny, Brisbane for a Grumman G73 Mallard.
VH-KNB reserved. Identity not stated, believed to be PK-POB J13, which did not arrive until 1962.

No reports on the Seabee's career at Rabaul
27.3.61
Struck-off Register as Withdrawn from Service
17.8.62
noted at Archerfield Airport, Brisbane stored in a hangar.
23.1.63
noted at Archerfield, under maintenance in hangar, panels removed. Also 30.1.64.
15.3.64
Purchased by T. S. Higgins, Perth WA
2.4.64
arrived Perth Airport on delivery from Archerfield, new red & cream colour scheme
7.4.64
Restored to Register VH-KNA
.64
Change of ownership: Fred L. Connell, Geraldton WA
Connell was Director of the Geraldton Fishermans Cooperative. He traded as Abrohlos Air, flying commercial fishermen from Geraldton to the Abrohlos island group.
18.9.65
noted at Geraldton
15.3.67
F. L. Connell fined $50 in a Perth Court on DCA charges of having flown a private category aircraft (VH-KNA) on charter operations. Based on his charging a fee to cover his costs to fly fishermen and their families from Geraldton to Wallaby Islands.
18.5.67
DCA incident report: loss of radio communications Geraldton-Perth
19.3.68
Forced landing on the sea 9 miles NW Geraldton while en route to Geraldton Airport from Wallaby Island, undamaged, pilot David Gibson. Towed to port by fishing vessel Little Season. Left overnight tied up to the main fishing wharf at Geraldton harbour.
6.4.70
Struck-off Register at owner’s request. Retired at Geraldton, replaced by Cessna floatplanes
15.6.70
noted at Geraldton, in back of Sasin' Aircraft hangar, complete but not airworthy. Covered in dust.
9.70
Maintenance at Geraldton by Sasin Aircraft for new owners, to prepare for ferry flight.
9.70
Ferried from Geraldton to Archerfield Qld
4.10.70
noted at Archerfield, reported as just arrived from WA
3.11.70
Restored to Civil Register VH-KNA:  Brian A. Cheras, c/o Cheras Industries Pty Ltd, Brisbane Qld
11.1.71
noted at Archerfield, new paint scheme white with green trim. Also 3.71
15.4.71
Change of ownership: M. I. Hawkins, Brisbane Qld
Operated by Graham ”Fatty’ Hawkins who at the time was a TAA airline pilot based at Lae Papua New Guinea on F-27s. He flew the Seabee for private flights, mainly between Lae and Salamaua.  Later he operated the Mission Beach Resort in Far North Queensland, flying an Aero Commander.

18.3.73
noted at Lae PNG
12.5.73
noted at Mackay Qld in hangar
73
Hawkins transferred to TAA Melbourne. He ferried VH-KNA from New Guinea to Melbourne later that year, based at Moorabbin Airport.
13.4.74
visited fly-in at Morwell Vic
18.5.74
noted at Moorabbin, new paint scheme of mustard yellow with green & black trim. Also 7.74
8.12.74
visited fly-in at Point Cook Vic
23.2.75
visited airshow Berwick Vic
6.12.75
visited fly-in at Point Cook Vic
11.9.76
noted at Moorabbin, under maintenance. Reportedly has not flown much recently
6.12.76
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
3.10.77
noted at Moorabbin, dismantled in Schutt Aviation hangar
7.3.78
Restored to Register: M. I. Hawkins, Melbourne Vic
21.11.78
noted at Moorabbin, new paint scheme dark blue with white trim. Also 6.79
11.79
visited 'splash-in" at Lake Eildon Vic
9.2.81
Struck-off Civil Register at owner’s request. VH-CBZ reserved for its return to Register.
22.7.83
noted at Townsville Qld, dismantled in hangar, blue & white. Also 3.11.83
.87
Purchased from Hawkins by a syndicate of employees at Schutt Aviation, Moorabbin:
Ron Lee, Les Coleman, John Burgess, Rus Smedley and John Wundersitz, Melbourne
Restoration commenced in Schutt hangar at Moorabbin, supervised by LAME Ron Lee. 
Aircraft was repainted all white. The rebuild stopped when Ron Lee left Schutts employment and engine was unable to be rebuilt due lack of spare parts worldwide.
7.90
noted at Moorabbin dismantled in Schutt hangar
.99
Rebuild project purchased by a new syndicate at Tyabb Airport Vic:
Graham Hosking, Brian Jones, Jon Burgess, Les Coleman, Tyabb Vic
.99
moved by road to Tyabb Airport
11.03
noted at Tyabb in hangar, partially rebuilt, VH-CBZ on the instrument panel callsign-reminder plate.
A Franklin engine has just been installed in the aircraft: engine had been purchased on EBay from France and shipped to Tyabb, and stripped down for inspection.
Reportedly only needs a few months work to make it airworthy.  
2.08
Nearing completion at Tyabb, reported that project now owned solely by Les Coleman, Melbourne
3.14
noted at Tyabb, in hangar assembled, all white
3.16
noted at Tyabb, in hangar, wings and panels removed

Les Coleman died 15 September 2019, aged 80

Last reported stored dismantled at Tyabb Vic


N6243K “Wild Goose” at McGregor Bay, Ontario Canada 1950s.              Photo courtesy Mark Holderman
                                                

VH-KNA at Archerfield Qld August 1962 with Kenair, still in the same dark blue paint scheme.    John Hopton Collection


Freshly repainted on completion of a long overhaul at Archerfield, VH-KNA is seen during a refuelling stop at
Kalgoorlie WA in April 1964
on delivery to a new owner in Perth.                Photo by Don Ende


Alistair Coutts was on hand to photograph VH-KNA's arrival at Perth Airport on 2 April 1964


Geraldton WA June 1970, retired in a hangar with a liberal coating of dust.                 Photo by Geoff Goodall


Archerfield Qld March 1971 after overhaul and repaint.                                            Photo by Bob Livingstone


Attending a December 1974 Point Cook Vic fly-in, showing off her next paint scheme.          Photo by Mike Madden


Lake Eildon Vic November 1979.                                                                           Photo by Mike Madden


VH-CBZ at Tyabb Vic in March 2016 during an extended rebuild which is yet to be finished.    Photo by Ian McDonell


                          RC-3                    c/n 972                                                                            VT-CSU, VH-BBJ, VH-ECZ
5.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation
.47
Registered NC6689K
24.10.47
Republic delivery date to customer: Hindustan Airways Co, Calcutta
8.48
Registered VT-CSU Sinclair Murray & Co Ltd, Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta  (Republic Agents)

No details on Indian career
1.4.58
Seabees VT-CST & VT-CSU purchased in India by Gold Coast Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW  
24.8.59
Australian Registration applications for both: Gold Coast Holdings Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
9.59
Assembled at Bankstown, dark red and silver scheme
29.10.59
Registered VH-BBJ Gold Coast Holdings Pty Ltd, Sydney
29.10.59
Test flown Bankstown after assembly. Australian CofA issued
29.5.60
VH-BBJ was included in the static aircraft display at Bankstown Airshow
7.6.62
Reregistered VH-ECZ: East Coast Holdings Pty Ltd, Sydney, later Bureligh Heads Qld (same address as Gold Coast Holdings)
Operated by East Coast Airways, Coolangatta Qld, which was founded by Peter Ahrens with his DH.89 Rapide VH-ECW, which he had flown from Sweden with his family migrating to Australia, arriving September 1960.
14.8.62
Change of ownership: J. L. Edwards, Tamworth NSW
Appears to have continued to be operated by East Coast Airways at Coolangatta Qld
17.8.62
VH-ECZ noted Archerfield, "East Coast Airways" titles, "ECA" vertically on tail
24.11.62
Landed heavily on Tweed River NSW, hole torn in hull, aircraft sank but quickly salvaged
20.9.63
Change of ownership: P. J. Hurn, Burleigh Heads Qld (same address as East Coast Holdings)
1.64
noted at Archerfield
22.9.64
noted Coolangatta, in hangar
2.10.64
Change of ownership: W. K. Pearson, Hawrah Tas
7.10.64
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service; back-dated by DCA at owner's request
3.1.65
Restored to Register VH-KNA back to: P. J. Hurn, Burleigh Heads Qld
21.2.65
noted at West Maitland NSW
28.9.65
Change of ownership: K. E. Olsen c/- Notley Aviation, Camden NSW (also owned Seabee VH-MJO)
24.10.65
noted at Camden flying joyrides during Royal Aeronautical Society Picnic Day
13.1.66
Wrecked during forced landing in grounds of a mental hospital at Rydalmere, Sydney NSW
DCA accident report: "Engine power ceased due to fuel exhaustion while flying over a built-up area. The aircraft undershot the selected landing area, struck a power pole and came to rest of a road."

The aircraft was being flown Coolangatta-Bankstown by owner K. E. Olsen, who received only minor injuries. Engine failed due fuel exhaustion while flying over suburban area inbound to Bankstown.
K. E. Olsen held CPL with 3500 hrs, 50 hours on type.
The wreck was trucked to Bankstown later that same day.
13.1.66
Struck-off Civil Register
15.1.66
Wreck noted Bankstown in a hangar. Unchanged 7.2.66
15.9.70
Wreck noted at Camden, stored in alcove at rear of Skyservice Aviation hangar.
99
VH-ECZ rear fuselage and parts stored in rear of Helicopter Resources hangar Tyabb Vic
22.10.03
VH-ECZ rear fuselage and parts on grass outside a hangar at Tyabb


VT-CSU at Dinjan airfield, Assam, India                                                                Photo:  Phil Camp


VH-BBJ at an airshow at Bankstown Airport, Sydney in May 1960.                           Photo by Dave Eyre


VH-BBJ drops in for fuel at Pelican airfield Newcastle NSW in October 1961.              Photo by Darryl Connell


Camden NSW September 1965, now reregistered VH-ECZ, with Mr. Olsen's other Seabee VH-MJO on overhaul behind.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


A month later at Camden, VH-ECZ seen repainted in an attractive new scheme.    Photo by Dave Eyre


VH-ECZ's wreck at Bankstown 15 January 1966 after its forced landing in the Sydney suburbs two days earlier.
A hangar humorist has placed a sign "Seaplane Flights Now 30 Shillings" by the wreck.     Photo by Eric Favelle


                       RC-3                c/n 973                                                                    VT-CST, (VH-BBK)
.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation

Registered NC6690K
24.10.47
Republic delivery date to customer: Hindustan Airways Co, Calcutta
9.48
Registered VT-CST Calcutta Jute Agency, Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta
-
Change of ownership: Sinclair Murray & Co Ltd, Dum Dum Airport, Calcutta (Republic agents)

No details on Indian career
1.4.58
Seabees VT-CST & VT-CSU purchased in India by Gold Coast Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW  
24.8.59
Australian Registration applications for both: Gold Coast Holdings Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
8.59
DCA allocated registration VH-BBJ for VT-CSU, VH-BBK for VT-CST

VT-CST stored in a hangar at Bankstown
22.9.60
VT-CST destroyed in hangar fire at Bankstown Airport, Sydney
Tiger Moth VH-PCM & Auster VH-AHQ also burnt.

No Australian Certificates of Registration or Airworthiness issued
60s
The hull section was salvaged and used to construct a home-made 4.5 metre aluminium 3 seat boat in the Sydney area. It was driven by an outboard motor at the rear. Wires and pullies from the Seabee were used in the boat’s steering and control systems.   
14
The boat was displayed at The Lady Denman Museum, Huskisson NSW on board the Sydney Harbour passenger ferry Lady Denman.


Seabee VT-CST's hull was used to construct this power boat. In 2014 it was among the displays on board the former
Sydney Harbour ferry Lady Denman, now a tourist attraction at Huskisson NSW.     Photo by Dave Eyre



                          RC-3                    c/n 354                                                                                  N6166K
.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation.

Registered NC6166K Southern Airways Co, Atlanta GA
11.2.47
Republic delivery date to customer
27.10.48
Change of ownership: Texas A&M Research Foundation, College Station Texas
.49
Re-registered N6166K under revised US aircraft registration regulations.
10.11.50
Change of ownership: Russell & Elizabeth P. Hebert, Houma Louisiana
17.10.55
Registration cancelled by CAA due mail returned unclaimed
25.1.61
Restored to Register: John D. Nail, Greenville Mississippi
29.12.65
Change of ownership: Tommy Arnet, Tampa, Florida
30.1.68
Change of ownership: Fred Alter, Detroit, Michigan
29.4.71
US Register owner: Jan M. Jacobson, Tampa, Florida
31.10.75
Registration cancelled by CAA due owner not filing required documentation
21.2.90
Restored to Register: Bruce J. Hill, McAlpin, Florida. 
Bruce Hill also owned Seabee N6294K and a Piper J3C Cub
2015
N6166K advertised for sale by Bruce Hill as a dismantled rebuild project
1.16
Inspected in hangar at McAlpin Florida by visiting Australian Ian Goldie. The sale included the dismantled fuselage, 3 wings, 2 sets of tailplanes, a Franklin engine and many boxes of components and spare parts.
1.16
Purchased by Ian Goldie, Port Macquarie NSW
1.16
Packed into a shipping container at McAlpin FL for shipping to Sydney, Australia
28.1.16
Struck-off US Civil Register as sold to Australia
14.4.16
Ian "Gramps"Goldie collected the aircraft at Sydney wharves and loaded it on his flat bed trailer for transport to Camden Haven Airport near Port Macquarie NSW. There he intends to have the aircraft rebuilt as experimental aircraft X-Bee Pelican, powered by a modified auto engine, such as the Audie/Volkswagen 4.2 litre twin turbo V8 engine.
1.18
Ian Goldie reports: “The X-Bee project is progressing well with all over clean-up, undercarriage removed, refurbished and reinstalled with various items manufactured. The rudder and fin have been reworked to similar dimensions of the Twin Bee. In 2018 a couple more things to do on tail feathers then new centre section will happen!”




N6166K as purchased at McAlpin Florida in January 2016 by Ian Goldie for his home-build X-Bee project.


                          RC-3                    c/n 806                                                                   C-FBUM, VH-UUM
4.47
Built at Farmingdale, New York by Republic Aviation Corporation.

Registered NC6540K
9.5.47
Republic delivery date to customer
49
Re-registered N6540K under revised US aircraft registration regulations.
1963-1969
US Civil Registers: Autic Co, Astoria Oregon
70-72
N6540K not listed USCR
11.75
logbook: last flight as N6540K
.76
Exported to Canada as C-GIES 
2.78
Restored to US Civil Register as N6540K
4.2.78
logbook: N6540K test flight for US re-certification
31.7.90
Change of ownership Wayne D. Parsons, Boise Idaho
10.3.09
Change of address: Wayne D. Parsons, Warrenton Virginia
22.6.10
Struck-off US Civil Register, exported to Canada. Total airframe time 1,313 hours.
Modified engine installation, 260hp Lycoming GO 435
30.6.10
Registered C-FBUM: Les Entreprises SIFEC Nord Inc, Montreal Quebec
7.7.10
logbook: first test flight as C-FBUM, pilot C.Fouteux
9.2.16
Change of ownership: David Chapman, Arva Ontario
9.2.16
logbook: local flight, first flight for some months
10.2.16
logbook: local flight
18.2.16
logbook: flown to London Airport, Ontario
16
Completely disassembled, inspection and rebuild. Repainted blue & white "Super Seabee"
11.5.19
logbook: first test flight after overhaul, London Ontario. Pilot David Chapman
21.7.19
logbook: next flight: London local, pilot David Chapman

logbook: no further flights in Canada
12.10.20
logbook: Annual inspection completed
.21
Purchased by Steve Barlow, Adelaide, South Australia
14.1.21
logbook: dismantled for packing in shipping container
31.3.21
C-FBUM arrived in shipping container at Parafield Airport, Adelaide SA. Assembly commenced
17.8.21
Struck-off Canadian Register, sold to Australia
30.8.21
Registered VH-UUM Steve Barlow/ Amphus Pty Ltd, Adelaide SA
10.21
Ready for testflight at Parafield. To be based at Woodside SA, later at owner's country property


Lachute Quebec in May 2011.                                                                           Photo by Pete Webber


Canada 2018 following a major rebuild and refurbishment.


C-FBUM being unpacked from its shipping container at Parafield SA on 1 April 2021.                  Photo by Rod Brown

Footnotes:
A Seabee that didn't arrive:
On 15 November 1957, Mr. A. V. Fruggle of Melbourne applied to DCA to import an RC-3 Seabee for his private use.  DCA approved the application, but no aircraft was imported. Nothing further known


Indian Seabees:
Simon Warrender's autobiography Score of Years describes flying his Percival Proctor G-AGSZ from England to Australia in May-June 1949.
Among his business ventures in Great Britain, Warrender held an agency to sell the proposed British designed twin engined amphibian “Sponson Tribian” (which never actually flew).
“While mechanics gave the Proctor a thorough going over at Dum Dum airfield, we toured Calcutta and inquired through the usual channels for potential Tribian buyers. We met some young Englishmen who were using Seabees in the course of their jute business. They seemed quite interested in our product, but generally our reception was only lukewarm.


References:
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its sucessors
- DCA Aircraft files - National Archives of Australia, Melbourne
- DCA Aircraft Import Register: extracts by Melvyn Davis
- National Library of Australia - Trove newspaper archive website
- Pilot log book John C. Doudy, founder of Commodore Aviation: SA Aviation Museum library
- Balus The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, Volume 1, James Sinclair, Robert Brown, 1986
- WWAS operations in New Guinea: letter from Ray H. Harris, DCA PNG Region to Alan Bovelt 22.2.67
- Score of Years, Simon Warrender, Wren 1973
- AHSA Journal, monthly, 1960-1970 various references
- Australian Air Log, monthly 1965-1968, various references
- Classic Wings Downunder magazine, renamed Classic Wings: various references to Seabees
- Rag & Tube, monthly journal of Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia, 1977 onwards
- correspondence with Mr. Ian Goldie re his X-Bee Pelican N6166K

- Republic Seabee site: www.seabee.info

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