HMNZS Leander was commissioned into service with the NZ Division of the Royal Navy and arrived in New Zealand in 1937. Once here, she undertook a tour of the nation’s ports. On 24 November 1937 at Wellington, K8541 overturned in Wellington Harbour on landing because the pilot forgot to raise the wheels. The crew survived but the aircraft was written off.
Leander’s aircraft was replaced by K8558 which remained in service until the aircraft were landed and not used again. Achilles landed its aircraft in 1939 before the war broke out. This aircraft was assigned to FAA 720 Catapult Squadron to 21 January 1940 and from then to 1944 700 Squadron.
Colour Scheme and Markings
In 1937, the aircraft was painted silver with the RAF roundel on the fuselage and under the lower wings and on top of the upper wings and the plane number in black next to the roundel on the fuselage.
When K8558 was initially in service she was painted silver with the roundels. One the nose she also carried the ship’s badge of Leander. Underneath the cockpit was the code Z3. IN 1939, the plane was given the code P9A to show she was part of 720 Squadron. In her later service with 700 Squadron, the code markings were removed and FAA standard camouflage scheme of dark sea grey, dark slate grey and sky grey lower surfaces was applied. Aircraft number was in white, no code numbers were applied.
Role: Spotter-reconnaissance amphibian for carrier-borne or catapult duties
Construction: Metal hull, fabric covered composite metal and wood wings
Engine: One 775hp Bristol Pegasus II M2 or VI
Dimensions: Span 45’10”, 17’11” folded
Wing area 610 sq. ft.
Weight: 4900lb empty, 8050 fully loaded
Performance: Maximum speed 135mph at 4750ft
Cruising 90mph art 3500
Climb 5.5 minutes to 15,000ft
1 x Vickers K machinegun in bows and 1 or 2 machineguns amidships
Six 100lb or 2 x 250lb bombs or 2 Mk. VIII depth charges
Darby, Charles, RNZAF: The First Decade 1937-1946, Melbourne: Kookaburra Technical Publications, 1978, pp. 18-19.
Thetford, Owen, British Naval Aircraft 1912-58, London: Putnam, 1958, pp. 291-295.
 Charles Darby, RNZAF: The First Decade 1937-1946, Melbourne: Kookaburra Technical Publications, 1978, p. 18.
 Ibid, pp.18-19.
 Charles Darby, RNZAF: The First Decade 1937-1946, Melbourne: Kookaburra Technical Publications, 1978, pp. 18-19.
 Owen Thetford, British Naval Aircraft 1912-58, London: Putnam, 1958, pp. 293-294.