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RAAF Form A.50

No. 1 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, RAAF - September 1943

1 September 1943 to 30 September 1943 - COOMALIE CREEK
STRENGTH:- At the end of September 1943 the strength of the unit consisted of:-
8 Officers.
89 Airmen --- 2 W/Os. 7 Sgts. 10 Cpls. 70 Acs.
11 Airmen --- Security Guards (on duty) and 4 Mobile Works Personnel
4 of the 89 airmen are detached to various squadrons.

VISITS:- Group Captain M.O. WATSON inspected the unit on 20th. SEPTEMBER 1943.

POSTINGS:-
F/O. R.S. AINSLIE was posted to 4 ED on 11 SEPTEMBER 1943
F/Lt. A.S. JONES was posted to 4 ED on 23 SEPTEMBER 1943
F/O. K. BOSS-WALKER was posted to this unit on 23 SEPTEMBER 1943

OPERATIONS:- Owing to unserviceability of aircraft, only one operation was carried out during the month. The objective was to photograph landing strips on the KAI ISLANDS but 10/10 cloud made the mission a failure. 1[?] sorties in the Wirraways were made to carry out local demands.

CASUALTIES:- W/O. WILLCOX, T.E., has resumed duty after having sustained concussion, shock and abrasions whilst flying as photographer in Wirraway A20-605 when it overturned after landing at Bathurst Island Mission on 13th. September 1943.

PHOTOGRAPHIC SECTION:- The initial equipment of the Photographic section was an American Photographic Trailer which was installed beside Hughes Field late in August 1942. Processing of films taken from Buffalo aircraft in local survey work was carried out. A marquee was later erected to serve the purpose of Office, workroom, store and film drying room, and a shelter built for washing films and prints. Water cooling was accomplished by running water from a raised tank over bamboo sticks to the tray where prints were washed. Though crude, this method proved partially effective in cooling the very hot water available. Printing and enlarging were carried out in the two roomed trailer which was inadequately powered by a 110 volt two stroke petrol engine incapable of running the printing and enlarging machines at the one time. Frequent breakdowns were experienced. On 10th November, films from the unit's first operational flight over Dilli in a Lightning aircraft were processed, the results being excellent.
On 6th. December 1942 the section moved into a tin building at Coomalie Creek. At this stage the staff comprised of 1 F/O., 1 W/O., 1 Sgt., 3 Cpls., and 9 aircraftsmen. Better facilities were available and the section was able to handle films taken by the American 319th. Bombardment Squadron on its operations, even though this necessitated two shifts of approximately 12 hours duration. To make up for the lack of experienced photographers in the American Squadron members of the section made many operational flights over Japanese held territory. Staff was later increased and in June 1943 these were 1 F/O., 1 W/O., 3 Sgts., 2 Cpls., and 19 aircraftsmen. Three shifts were introduced and the increased work coincidental with the arrival of the 380th. Bombardment Group in the Area was produced speedily and efficiently. Throughout this time, the section processed numerous operational films taken by the Unit's own aircraft over Timor and islands in the Banda and Arafura seas, and local survey films from Wessel Is. to Drysdale Mission. The greatest difficulty has been experienced in processing films because of the high temperature (usually 120°F.) and high iron content of the water available. Many prints have been ruined by stains caused by this iron contents. Conditions of humidity approaching 100% make it almost impossible to dry and set films and on occasions six hours drying has been necessary. Extracts from the section Job Book gives some idea of the great amount of work carried out by the section over a period of fourteen months:- Total number of prints produced by section:-
August to December 31st 1942 - 14,435
January to March 31st 1943 - 22,347
April to June 30th 1943 - 39,105
July to Sept. 30th 1943 - 31,088
The month of June 1943 saw 14,940 prints turned out in the section, whilst on the 2nd and 3rd. September there were 5,452 individual operational prints produced and despatched.

AIRCRAFT:- Lockheed Lightning A55-1 unserviceable. Lightning A55-3 returned from 14 ARD on 13 September 1943. One operational flight was made but trouble with overheating was again experienced. It was decided to send both aircraft to Townsville for inspection by the USAAF. A55-3 left on 20th. September 1943 and A55-1 will follow when spare parts are available. Sgt. Weller, Fitter IIE, visited Brisbane and was successful in obtaining many necessary spare parts hitherto unavailable.
WIRRAWAY A20-178 Serviceable. Wirraway A20-605 overturned at Bathurst Island Mission after landing and was allotted to 4 RSU for repair on 16th. September 1943. A20-558 was also allotted to 4 RSU on 27th. September 1943 for engine overhaul as excessive oil consumption plus engine revolution fluctuation were experienced.

TOTAL FLYING TIME FOR ALL AIRCRAFT FOR THE MONTH WAS 78 HOURS 50 MINUTS.
LIGHTNING AIRCRAFT 15 HOURS 45 MINUTES
WIRRAWAY AIRCRAFT 63 HOURS 05 MINUTES

TRANSPORT:- The unit possessed the following transport at the end of September 1943:-
1 Staff Car
2 Heavy Tenders
2 Light Tenders
1 Ambulance
1 Utility
1 Photographic Tender
1 Water Trailer
1 Mobile Kitchen
1 Motor Cycle
1 Stores Tender.
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