VH-TOD. Short S.45 Solent Mk 3. c/n S.1303.

Was also registered as: G-AHIO; N9945F.



This aircraft was built by Short Bros at Rochester, Kent as a Solent II - 1946

It was built to the U. K. Ministry of Transport Contract No. 2688 for 22 Sunderland Mk IV aircraft

It was allocated the Royal Air Force serial 'NJ211'

The order was cancelled and the R. A. F. serial was not taken up - October 06, 1945

The Ministry of Aviation agreed with Short Bros to build 12 Solent Mk II aircraft in lieu of the cancelled order

The existing jigs for the Sunderland Mk IVs were to be used

The Short Bros construction number 'S.1303' was allocated to this airframe

This aircraft was configured to seat 34 passengers

Entered onto the British Aircraft Register (CofR 10088/1) as G-AHIO - April 23, 1946

Registered to Ministry of Supply, London, UK

The British Aircraft Register was amended to show change of Registration Holder (CoR 1088/2) - June 08, 1948

Registered to Ministry of Civil Aviation, London, England

Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA 10167) issued - January 27, 1949

Leased to British Overseas Airways Corporation as the registered operator - May 19, 1949

This aircraft was named 'Somerset' and delivered to B. O. A. C. at Southampton - May 19, 1949

Operated its first revenue service - May 20, 1949

It was damaged whilst alighting at Hythe - August 02, 1949

Repaired on site and returned to service

Withdrawn from service for conversion to Solent III standards - January 1950

The Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) was renewed - October 05, 1950

Operated its final revenue service - November 17, 1950

Returned to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and placed in open storage at Belfast, Ireland - November 17, 1950

Cancelled from the British Aircraft Register - July 17, 1951

The Certificate of Airworthiness (CofA) was renewed for a further two months - October 12, 1951

Sold to Trans Oceanic Airways Pty Ltd - 1951

Painted in the Trans Oceanic livery at Belfast prior to acceptance

Returned to the British Aircraft Register (Cof R R.2160/3) as G-AHIO - October 30, 1951

Registered to Trans-Oceanic Airways Pty Limited, Sydney, Australia

Test flown at Belfast - November 09, 1951

Departed Belfast on the delivery flight to Australia as G-AHIO - November 12, 1951

Arrived at Sydney (Rose Bay) on completion of the delivery flight - November ?, 1951

Operated some services in Australia as G-AHIO before undergoing maintenance

Cancelled from the British Aircraft Register - December 10, 1951

Entered onto the Australian Aircraft Register as VH-TOD (CofR 1858) - December 10, 1951

Registered to Trans Oceanic Airways Pty Ltd, Sydney, Australia

Certificate of Airworthiness issued (CofA 1831) - December 10, 1951

The aircraft was allocated the name 'Star of Samoa' but retained its BOAC name 'Somerset'

Operated its first revenue service Sydney (Rose Bay) - Hobart (Derwent River) - December 11, 1951

Withdrawn from service at Sydney for maintenance - May 22, 1952

Returned to service - July 25, 1952

Operated its final revenue service - November 12, 1952

Withdrawn from use at Sydney (Rose Bay) and placed in open storage

Trans Oceanic Airways ceased all operations due to financial problems - April 1953

Sold by airline's liquidators to Dollar Associates Inc, Reno, Nevada - April 17, 1953

Intended to be operated by South Pacific Airlines, Inc on the proposed Honolulu - Christmas Island - Tahiti service

Cancelled from the Australian Aircraft Register - February 12, 1954

Entered onto the United States Aircraft Register as N9945F - April 17, 1955

Registered to South Pacific Air Lines, Oakland, California

Test flown at Sydney (Rose Bay) - May 24, 1955

Departed Sydney (Rose Bay) on the ferry flight to the United States - June 15, 1955

Arrived at California (Oakland) on completion of the ferry flight (Captain B. Monkton) - June 22, 1955

Ferry route: Sydney - Fiji - Honolulu - California (Oakland)

It was to be modified and refurbished at Oakland for F. A. A. certification between 1955 / 1956

However the aircraft never flew again and was placed in open storage at Oakland

Sold to Howard Hughes (Hughes Tool Company) and placed under armed guard at Oakland - 1959

Never officially listed as owned by Howard Hughes but rather by his nominee Robert A. Collier, Washington, DC

Registered to Dollar Lines Ltd, Reno, Nevada - 1963

Registered to Robert A Collier, Washington, DC - July 1966

This aircraft was evicted from Oakland Airport - October 23, 1967

It was moved by barge to Shoal Point, Richmond, California for continued storage - July 1971

Sold to the scrap dealer Virgil Martin trading as H & M Airlines Services - February 1973

Sold to R & H Gottelli - March 1973

The aircraft was finally broken up at Richmond Airport, California - 1974

Cancelled from the United States Aircraft Register - June 10, 1975



G-AHIO. BOAC - 'Somerset' in the standard livery at an unknown location, date unknown.

(A. J. Jackson Collection Copyright Image 2545-816.)

G-AHIO. BOAC - 'Somerset' in the standard livery at Southampton, date unknown.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 2545-920.)

VH-TOD. Trans-Oceanic Airways - 'Somerset' in the standard livery at Hobart, February 26, 1952.

(P. Sheehan Collection Copyright Image 2545-992.)

N9945F. South Pacific Air Lines - in the basic primer livery at Shoal Point, May 1972.

(R. N. Smith Collection Copyright Image 2545-624.)