Northern Ireland

WW2 Catalina flying boats return to Fermanagh base

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Media captionThe flying boats played an important role in the war

Two Catalina flying boats are returning to a former RAF base in Fermanagh where they played a crucial role in the Second World War.

The aircraft were based on Lough Erne 70 years ago to help protect Atlantic convoys carrying vital supplies from being attacked by German U-boats.

A secret deal with the Irish Republic allowed the planes to fly through Irish airspace.

They flew along a route that became known as the Donegal corridor.

This short-cut linked Lough Erne with the Atlantic Ocean and extended the range of the aircraft.

The crucial role played by the flying boats was most notably demonstrated in May 1941 when a Catalina based on Lough Erne spotted the Bismarck as it sailed to France.

The German battleship was sunk the following day.

Ted Jones and Chuck Springer are former veterans of the wartime airbase.

Now in their late 80s they are hoping to re-enact their wartime missions with one last flight in a Catalina along the Donegal corridor.

Most of the Catalinas were scrapped after the war and only a few are still flying.

Two will be taking part in the Fermanagh Seaplane Festival in Killadeas on 24-25 September.

One of them was originally part of the Canadian air force and sank German U-boat U-342 on its maiden voyage in 1944.

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