RAF Flying Boat Operations in the Far East

This 272-page book fills a major literary gap in RAF flying boat history and is essential reading for aviation and flying boat historians and enthusiasts.  Beautifully illustrated and historically important, this book provides the first factual, biographical account of post Second World War Sunderland flying boat operations in the Far East where the author navigated RAF flying boats of No. 88 Squadron, Far East Flying Boat Wing, from 1952 to 1954.

Group Captain Empson flew sixty-one Korean War anti-shipping and weather reconnaissance missions from Iwakuni. Providing detailed accounts of these 12-hour, flying boat patrols over the Tsushima Strait and Yellow Sea, the author recalls how flying boat crews had to be continually alert to avoid aggressive Chinese fighter aircraft.

The book describes how, in winter time, crews battled to complete their missions despite icing, low cloud, rain and poor visibility. These hazards were made worse by the aircraft’s rudimentary equipment. Engine failures were not uncommon, one causing the author’s flying boat to ditch in the Tsushima Strait. 

A description of flying boat operations from RAF Kai Tak elaborates on how crews responded rapidly to assist any aircraft in distress over the South China Sea. The book also covers little-known RAF flying boat operations around North Borneo where crews assisted local seaborne police to locate pirates and smugglers from the Philippines. Additionally described are Sunderland flying boat operations from their Singapore base, Seletar, bombing and strafing Communist terrorists in Malayan jungle hideouts.  The author also recounts his crew’s eventful three-month return flight by Sunderland from Singapore to the UK.

The book and four Appendices contain detailed and interesting information on flying boat operating and navigational techniques, and aircraft performance. There are colour photographs and a description of the interior of Sunderland flying boat ML796 exhibited at Duxford Aircraft Museum.