1. #1
    I have been threatening this for three years, hope it's worth the wait.

    Near the logging town of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island Canada there's a
    seaplane base on Sproat Lake, home to two elegant giants from the golden
    age of aviation. I am fortunate to live near them and have heard their thunder flying over me a few times.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+a...&t=h&z=16&iwloc =addr

    In this Google Maps view, they are riding at anchor. The base is to the
    North, at the end of Bomber Base Road. Hangar space would not be practical
    for these aircraft, they ride out the winter on their beaching gear.

    Here's a quick rundown:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JRM_Mars

    Youtube Doco

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1y6Tnczjuw

    Short Version

    Contracted in 1938, built from 1943-1947. After the war they were used to
    ferry cargo across the Pacific. Parked in 1956, the surviving four [of
    five built] were purchased as firebombers. Two crashed, today the surviving pair are the only working four engine flying
    boats in the world.

    As a side note I will be making an attempt to find the wreckage of
    Caroline Mars near Parksville, at some point. It's somewhere in dense
    forest, like all the wooded areas around here. Wish me luck!

    -----------------------

    On August 31st, I was headed to Tofino for the day and saw that the base
    was open for tours. After paying 10$ we got a private tour.

    Here's the entrance to the base. There's a gift shop and waiting area just
    around the corner. Behind is one arm of Sproat Lake.



    Around the corner is this amazing sight. Philippine Mars is hunkered down
    for the season after helping out in California. Hawaii Mars is down there
    still, testing out a system where Cobra choppers use IR to locate the
    fire, bird dogs mark it and then the Mars does the big job.



    Freshly painted is this spare nose section, this would have been the
    eighth Mars built. They got tons of spare parts when they purchased the aircraft.



    You cannot back away enough to get it all in! What a monster....



    Here's the beaching gear. Beefy! Just behind the hull step are the pipes that extend to scoop up water. The tanks fill in 30 seconds!



    The livery of the new operator. These planes changed hands in 2006.



    The two big hatches over the beaching gear are the dump doors in
    Philippine Mars. Hawaii Mars was converted later and has a slightly
    different dump system that dumps out of the bottom. These are also the only waterbombers in the world that can take salt water!



    Here's a closer view of the starboard side dump doors. Pressure relief overflow doors are the small white vents under the wing.



    Wright Cyclone, R-3350. The No 2 engine on the left was removed to install in Hawaii
    Mars.



    Shall we go inside??? Note the two open hatches above the cockpit.



    The lower deck had the tanks and this small area that led to the bow
    compartment. Photography was difficult, it was hard to back up enough to
    get a good picture.

    Not shown are a couple of big 200 gallon tanks that held different fire
    ******ant agents, which can be custom-mixed "on the fly" by the crew.



    Up a short ladder and it's heaven.



    Here is our guide on the flight deck. The two steel poles are the top of the ladder
    down to the lower deck.

    All the 30's furniture is intact, the desk on the right was the radio
    operators'. Note the pencil sharpener!



    The flight engineer's panel. Throttle, mix and air levers ahoy. On the
    left is the dump and mix panel. The small circular window gives the
    engineer a direct view of the port side engines.



    Crank this sucker up!!!



    These control locks must come off somehow.... The toggle switches on the
    yoke are the water dumps.



    Big old trim wheels.



    The panel. Now THIS is an airplane!



    Stand up in the pilot's seat and the open windows give a terrific view
    aft.



    Looking forward. Note the parking spot for Hawaii Mars, in paint. The
    trucks are used to haul them around.



    These magnificent engines bid you goodbye!!

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  2. #2
    I have been threatening this for three years, hope it's worth the wait.

    Near the logging town of Port Alberni, Vancouver Island Canada there's a
    seaplane base on Sproat Lake, home to two elegant giants from the golden
    age of aviation. I am fortunate to live near them and have heard their thunder flying over me a few times.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=port+a...&t=h&z=16&iwloc =addr

    In this Google Maps view, they are riding at anchor. The base is to the
    North, at the end of Bomber Base Road. Hangar space would not be practical
    for these aircraft, they ride out the winter on their beaching gear.

    Here's a quick rundown:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JRM_Mars

    Youtube Doco

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1y6Tnczjuw

    Short Version

    Contracted in 1938, built from 1943-1947. After the war they were used to
    ferry cargo across the Pacific. Parked in 1956, the surviving four [of
    five built] were purchased as firebombers. Two crashed, today the surviving pair are the only working four engine flying
    boats in the world.

    As a side note I will be making an attempt to find the wreckage of
    Caroline Mars near Parksville, at some point. It's somewhere in dense
    forest, like all the wooded areas around here. Wish me luck!

    -----------------------

    On August 31st, I was headed to Tofino for the day and saw that the base
    was open for tours. After paying 10$ we got a private tour.

    Here's the entrance to the base. There's a gift shop and waiting area just
    around the corner. Behind is one arm of Sproat Lake.



    Around the corner is this amazing sight. Philippine Mars is hunkered down
    for the season after helping out in California. Hawaii Mars is down there
    still, testing out a system where Cobra choppers use IR to locate the
    fire, bird dogs mark it and then the Mars does the big job.



    Freshly painted is this spare nose section, this would have been the
    eighth Mars built. They got tons of spare parts when they purchased the aircraft.



    You cannot back away enough to get it all in! What a monster....



    Here's the beaching gear. Beefy! Just behind the hull step are the pipes that extend to scoop up water. The tanks fill in 30 seconds!



    The livery of the new operator. These planes changed hands in 2006.



    The two big hatches over the beaching gear are the dump doors in
    Philippine Mars. Hawaii Mars was converted later and has a slightly
    different dump system that dumps out of the bottom. These are also the only waterbombers in the world that can take salt water!



    Here's a closer view of the starboard side dump doors. Pressure relief overflow doors are the small white vents under the wing.



    Wright Cyclone, R-3350. The No 2 engine on the left was removed to install in Hawaii
    Mars.



    Shall we go inside??? Note the two open hatches above the cockpit.



    The lower deck had the tanks and this small area that led to the bow
    compartment. Photography was difficult, it was hard to back up enough to
    get a good picture.

    Not shown are a couple of big 200 gallon tanks that held different fire
    ******ant agents, which can be custom-mixed "on the fly" by the crew.



    Up a short ladder and it's heaven.



    Here is our guide on the flight deck. The two steel poles are the top of the ladder
    down to the lower deck.

    All the 30's furniture is intact, the desk on the right was the radio
    operators'. Note the pencil sharpener!



    The flight engineer's panel. Throttle, mix and air levers ahoy. On the
    left is the dump and mix panel. The small circular window gives the
    engineer a direct view of the port side engines.



    Crank this sucker up!!!



    These control locks must come off somehow.... The toggle switches on the
    yoke are the water dumps.



    Big old trim wheels.



    The panel. Now THIS is an airplane!



    Stand up in the pilot's seat and the open windows give a terrific view
    aft.



    Looking forward. Note the parking spot for Hawaii Mars, in paint. The
    trucks are used to haul them around.



    These magnificent engines bid you goodbye!!

    Share this post

  3. #3
    Waw, thanks for sharing those pictures!
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  4. #4
    Those are very nice pictures. You must have had a great day.
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  5. #5
    nice pics ,tyvm!

    i know one of the Mars' lost a wing several years ago, plane and crew lost
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  6. #6
    Very Nice and Picture!!
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  7. #7
    p1ngu666's Avatar Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Posts
    11,199
    nice
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  8. #8
    Nice pics Jolly,
    Interesting you bring up Canada. I was just recently in Newfoundland in the town of Botwood and found an old British American Seaplane base. I didn't get any inside pics as it wasn't open for that but managed to take few other pics. It was a beautiful day and a great sunset....

    <pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> </pre><pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> </pre>









    A little History:

    <span class="ev_code_GREEN">From the outbreak of World War II, 1940-1945, the Royal Canadian Air Force changed Botwood into a patrolling and bombing seaplane base, home to two squadrons of PBY Canso flying boats equipped with torpedoes and depth charges. A large concrete slipway, two hangars, a tarmac and four bunkers were constructed. The Canadian Army was garrisoned in the town, the army built barracks, a water system, and a full scale military hospital. The army was responsible for the manning of gun batteries at Philip's Head and Wiseman's Cove that protected the entrance to Botwood Harbor with 14" guns, as well as numerous anti-aircraft batteries throughout the community. At the war's end Botwood had been home to some 10,000 Canadian and British personnel and had become Canada's most important over-seas base.</span>

    linkage
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  9. #9
    Great Canso! There is one crashed in the bush near Long Beach, time for another visit soon. Last time I was in it I found LIVE .303 ammo! Handle with care!

    The Carolina Mars went down in 1961, they botched the drop and dug a wing into the hillside, cartwheeling into the hill with 4 poor guys on board. I have a rough idea of the location and will try to find the wreck. I saw a picture of a guy standing in the bush with the huge tail towering over him, with visible USN markings. Trouble is the bush is so thick here you can barely go into it! It will be worth it though, I love hunting wrecks.
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  10. #10
    The testing that was done in California was basically to see if it will fit their needs in fighting fires. If the tests were successful they are wanting to build more of them for this purpose.


    It soaks a 4 acre chunk per drop.
    Way cool if it happens.
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