Friday 5 December 2014

Query re a Widgeon

In my previous post on my recent trip to Stewart Island at: , I posted a photo of a Grumman Widgeon on the beach outside the South Sea Hotel at Oban on Half Moon Bay, and from what I could see it was ZK-AVM (refer to the 2 black and white photos below).

Blog reader Peter Layne gently queried whether it was in fact ZK-AVM, as ZK-AVM was a G 44A model which was a post-war development of the Widgeon that had a revised nose that was more bulbous.  Peter thought the black and white photo showed a G 44 Widgeon with the less bulbous nose.

Now I never knew the differences between the G 44 and G 44A Widgeons until Peter sent this nice photo of two Amphibian Airways Wigeons parked on the same beach at half Moon Bay from the book "Taking Off" by Richard Waugh, Peter Layne, Bruce Gavin and Graeme McConnell.  The caption states "Amphibian Airways pioneered regular air services to Stewart Island from 1 October 1951.  Here Widgeons ZK-BAY (right) and ZK-AVM are parked on the beach at Half Moon Bay.  Note the different keel design of the later model G 44A ZK-AVM.  (photo from the Monk Collection)".

ZK-BAY was the earlier G 44 model and you can see in the photo that ZK-AVM's nose is more bulbous.

Fast forward to this photo taken in the 1970's (There is no record on the original photo that hangs on the wall of the South Sea Hotel of when the photo was taken). In this photo the nose of the Widgeon looks like the less bulbous G 44 nose - right?

This is an enlargement of the tail of the Widgeon in the above photo.  I thought it looked like the registration was ZK-AVM (and I thought there seems to be a spot on the photo at the botom of the V?).

And for another point of reference, here is a photo of ZK-AVM in Mount Cook Airlines colours and with the Continental engines, presumably from around the same era as the black and white photo above,  It appears to have the bulbous nose.

Peter Layne has emailed: "Although I agree it does look like AVM it is not necessarily so. I magnified your enlarged photo and when looking at the width of the letter K, which we know it must be even though it is illegible, then that same width band could accommodate a blurry B as in BGQ or C as in CFA. The middle letter of the last three is blurred and the foremost one could well be a Q as in BGQ rather than A in CFA. The keel is partly shadowed but it still has that G44 rather than G44A look to me. CHG , which is a “A” I think we can discard and similarly BAY, which had crashed in December 1970 and BPX (an A) which was badly damaged in January 1964."

In an interesting post on our 3rd Level Airlines sister blog at:  it is stated that:  The fleet Mount Cook Airlines inherited (from Tourist Air Travel) included two slightly different models (of Widgeons); ZK-BAY (c/n 1362), ZK-BGQ (c/n 1391) and ZK-CHG (c/n 1356) were G-44 models which were the main production variant, while ZK-AVM (c/n 1466) and ZK-CFA (c/n 1439) were G-44A models which were an improved post-war production variant with a redesigned hull. 

So what do blog readers think?  And does anyone have any information to shed on the matter?  Any contributions would be greatly appreciated.


  1. they may have replaced the nose when avm overturned down half moon bay back in 68 when mr selwyn toogood was on board

  2. Thanks for your suggestion Anonymous. But I think the colour photo of ZK-AVM with the Continental engines would have been taken after the accident where Selwyn Toogood was a passenger in ZK-AVM. The date of his accident was 24/10/68 ie only ten months after Mount Cook took over the Widgeons from TAT, and at first they had a different flowing style of script for Mount Cook Airlines on the nose.

  3. My late father, Harold Bennett flew both these Widgeon's for Jim Monk in the 50's. I flew in them with him on several occasions. I'm pretty sure ZK-AVM had its nose modified during it's time with Amphibian Airways in Invercargill, to improve its handling on the water. James Bennett

  4. ZK-AVM was built as a G-44A and as such always had the deeper vee entry to the bow section of the lower forward fuselage. It was not modified locally. It is interesting to note however, a number of both G-44s and 44As in use in NZ during the 1950s-60s had original un-modified hulls in the vicinity of the step. (Grumman had changed the location of the step to reduce dangerous porpoising tendencies post war), these mods were introduced somewhat later on some of the Kiwi Widgeons in service.