The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has positively identified a World War Two Catalina aircraft A24-64 following a successful reconnaissance mission in the Philippines.
In March 2019, RAAF conducted an inspection of a crash site south-east of Cape Calavite on the north-west end of Mindoro Island, after they became aware of several artefacts at this location in 2014. These artefacts consisted of a small metal tube engraved with the aircraft manufacturer’s logo, a brass crown identified by the RAAF Museum as part of an early RAAF officer’s cap badge, and .303 ammunition.
Although little remained of the aircraft, a number of small items of wreckage were found with metal detectors on this recent visit. Several items were subsequently identified as unique to the Catalina, which when combined with other evidence, confirmed the wreck site was the missing aircraft.
On 14 December 1944, Catalina A24-64 together with 22 other Catalina aircraft departed on a mission to Manila Bay with orders to rendezvous in the vicinity of Cape Calavite outbound from the target. All aircraft except A24-64 returned safely from the mission. A24-64 has not been seen or heard from since its departure from Leyte Gulf.
The recent visit provided an opportunity to assess the logistic requirements and local support available for any planned search and recovery mission. A search and recovery mission is now planned for early 2020.