Home' Air Force News : March 31st 2011 Contents RCE
90TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL
March 31, 2011
Engines: Two Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasps
Combat range: 4990km
Armament: 1814kg bombs, five machine guns
Felix the Cat Enterprises sells copyright
for $A1 so Hollywood cartoon can become
a modern day 'Black Cat'
THE Chinese may have declared
2011 as the Year of the Rabbit, but
for 11SQN it is the year of the Cat
after the squadron received permis-
sion to adopt an iconic film star as
11SQN has formally adopted
Felix the Cat, a cartoon hero from
the early days of Hollywood.
Felix became synonymous with
the Catalina flying boats (or Cats)
from 11SQN in WWII and was used
as the squadron mascot.
Felix's name was partially
derived from the Latin words for
"lucky" and "cat", and the RAAF's
Catalina flying boats were known as
the Black Cats in recognition of their
black paint scheme.
Squadron CO WGCDR Phillip
Champion said that as the "Clever
Cat with the box of tricks", Felix
was seen as a fitting mascot during
the war by the Catalina squadrons --
11, 20, 42 and 43SQNs.
Their operations often involved
sneaking boldly in behind enemy
lines, usually at night, and using
their intelligence, stealth and agility
to rescue Allied soldiers, sailors and
airmen and to disrupt enemy opera-
"11SQN today operates the
AP-3C Orion aircraft, so Felix still
remains an obviously fitting mas-
cot," WGCDR Champion said.
"As an ISR platform, the Orion
has its own box of tricks, which are
used to support Australia's national
security and contribute to coalition
"Felix's reputation as being affa-
ble and light-hearted and having the
last laugh without being the tough
guy are similarly characteristics with
which the members of 11SQN today
The squadron first conceived the
idea about 18 months ago when,
in September 2009, it painted two
Orions with nose and tail art featur-
SGT Michael Horner first came
up with the idea of the badge ("the
Felix initiative or getting the cat out
of the bag as 11SQN like to call it")
and it quickly gained momentum.
The idea took form and had to go
through a wide range of processes,
including legal and reputation man-
agement, to reach fruition.
A major hurdle was the need to
obtain copyright from the owners of
Felix -- "Felix the Cat Enterprises"
in the US.
"They have been very accom-
modating throughout," WGCDR
"We are required to make a trans-
action to make the agreement legal,
so Felix suggested the amount of one
dollar Australian be transferred."
There were also questions about
the Commonwealth's ability to sign
the agreement, noting the badges
would be managed by the squad-
ron's social club. However, these
were resolved and Commander
Surveillance and Response Group
AIRCDRE James Brown signed the
agreement earlier this month.
WGCDR Champion said that the
Catalina Veterans' Association was
delighted that 11SQN had taken up
"11SQN has always been very
actively engaged with the SA Catalina
Association and the history of Felix
with 11SQN is reasonably well
known. The average age of the veter-
ans is about 88 now, so it is important
that 11SQN actively promotes our his-
tory," he said.
"Also, the squadron has great
respect for the sacrifices made by
members of the Black Cat squadrons
in WWII, so our members are very
With the agreement signed, the
squadron will now use the badge on
flying suits, disruptive pattern com-
bat uniforms, as well as on 'presen-
tos' and squadron signs.
It will be officially launched at
the squadron's 72nd birthday dining-
in night in September.
ORION crews from 11SQN at
RAAF Base Edinburgh are seizing
opportunities to explore and dis-
cover the history of their wartime
The modern-day crews share a
direct lineage to the WWII crews
of Catalina flying boats that served
throughout the Pacific theatre.
These days the squadron flies
the Orions on maritime patrols -- but
remain close to their roots and every
member is aware of the squadron's
WWII role in the Pacific.
The Captain of Crew 3, FLTLT
Richard Court, has been research-
ing the history of Catalina opera-
tions in the port of Malang in Java,
Indonesia, during WWII.
"It was in Malang that 11SQN
crews operated in support of the
surveillance efforts to repel the
Japanese advance," FLTLT Court
"Protection of these strategic
ports ensured the communica-
tions link between Australia, New
Zealand and the Allies was not cut
off."11SQN was formed in 1939
to conduct maritime patrol opera-
tions, flying Short Empires and
The squadron acquired its first
Consolidated Catalinas in 1941.
Between 1941 and 1945,
11SQN harassed Japanese ship-
ping and conducted bombing and
mine-laying operations throughout
the Pacific theatre.
They also conducted many cov-
ert operations behind enemy lines,
dropping supplies to the Allied
coast-watchers, and conducted
combat search and rescue opera-
tions for downed airmen.
Some of these missions were
so far from their forward operating
bases they took a Catalina crew up to
25 hours of flight time to complete.
Guadalcanal in the Solomon
Islands and Port Moresby in Papua
were both areas where Catalinas
flew operations during WWII.
The present-day 11SQN returned
to these areas during Operation
Solania, which involved maritime
and fisheries surveillance in support
of Pacific island countries.
During Operation Solania,
FLTLT Court took his crew to
some of the locations where the
Catalinas were based.
"It was an amazing opportunity
to remember 11SQN members
who served in support of Allied
operations during the Japanese
advance," FLTLT Court said.
CO 11SQN WGCDR Phillip
Champion said he was thrilled
at the efforts by squadron main-
tenance and aircrew members to
discover their history.
"Understanding a proud his-
tory like ours will help shape future
operations and give the men and
women of 11SQN a real sense of
purpose and belonging," WGCDR
South Australian Catalina
Association president Art Coppock
said the squadron members' efforts
Some of the 11SQN mainte-
nance and aircrews are also look-
ing at options for taking their crew
names to the next level in areas,
like Malang, where the WWII
squadron was based.
One idea is to conduct fundrais-
ing for local community events and
helping local primary schools with
the purchase of sports equipment.
"I hope this initiative will con-
tinue to develop momentum and
result in some outstanding and tan-
gible results within the local com-
munities where the squadron was
based during WWII," WGCDR
Exploring history of the flyers
who blazed the trail in WWII
BAG OF TRICKS: 11SQN aircrew patch.
PAST: Above, 11SQN
CO WGCDR Phillip
Catalina Club members,
from left, Bill Burnet, Bob
Clarke and Art Coppock.
Photo: LACW Shannon Mccarthy
THE WAY THEY
WERE: Right, copy of
a promotional Catalina
Poster showing a WWII
Photo: LAC Glynn Jones
lands a role
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