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ACUFO is my comprehensive catalog of cases of encounters between aircraft and UFOs, whether they are "explained" or "unexplained".

The ACUFO catalog is made of case files with a case number, summary, quantitative information (date, location, number of witnesses...), classifications, all sources mentioning the case with their references, a discussion of the case in order to evaluate its causes, and a history of the changes made to the file.

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The Bass Strait, Australia, in the Summer of 1942:

Case number:

ACUFO-1942-08-00-BASSSTRAIT-1

Summary:

In his 1955 book "Flying Saucers Uncensored", the British pioneering flying saucer books author Harold T. Wilkins wrote that there was a fantastic incident in the summer of 1942 in the waters off Tasmania. He explained that his informant was a major in the Australian R.A.F., now stationed at the secret weapons and long-range missiles experimental desert station of Woomera. Wilkins quotes from this informant:

"The whole yarn is so odd that I must ask you not to give my name if you write of it. We had orders not long after the Japanese attack on Darwin, to patrol the Bass Strait where fishermen had reported seeing mysterious lights on the sea at night.

"At 5:50 P.M., of a lovely sunny evening, we were flying some miles east of the Tasman Peninsula when, on a sudden, there came out of a cloud bank, a singular airfoil of glistening bronze color. I'd say it was around 150 feet long and about fifty feet in diameter. It had a sort of beak at its prow, and the surface seemed burled, or rippled, or fluted. On its upper surface was a dome, or cupola, from which I seemed to see reflected flashes as the sun struck something, which might or might not have been a helmet, worn by something inside. The other end of the airfoil fined out into a sort of fin. Every now and again there came from its keel greenish-blue flashes. It turned at a small angle towards us and I was amazed to see, framed in a white circle on the front of the dome, an image of a large, grinning Cheshire cat!

"The damn thing flew parallel to us for some minutes, and then it abruptly turned away and, as it did so, it showed four things like fins on its belly-side. It went off at a hell of a pace, turned and dived straight down into the Pacific, and went under, throwing up a regular whirlpool of waves! Just as if it had been a submarine. No, the Japs had nothing in the amphibian line like that mysterious bird!

"I've read your 'Flying Saucers on the Attack,' and saw what you said of the 'Foo Fighters.' We were in the same predicament as those American airmen. If we reported to intelligence what we'd seen, we should likely have been grounded as suffering from nerve strain. So we did not report it! What do you think the damned thing was?"

The case appeared later in various UFO books and catalogs, generally without indication of this primary source - but nothing more was learned; which is understandable as the witness requested anonymity.

Data:

Temporal data:

Date: Summer 1942
Time: 05:50 p.m.
Duration: ?
First known report date: 1955
Reporting delay: 13 years.

Geographical data:

Country: Australia
State/Department: Victoria
City:

Witnesses data:

Number of alleged witnesses: 2+
Number of known witnesses: 1
Number of named witnesses: 0

Ufology data:

Reporting channel: Letter to UFO books author Harold T. Wilkins.
Visibility conditions: Sunny evening.
UFO observed: Yes.
UFO arrival observed: Yes.
UFO departure observed: Yes.
UFO action: Flies along plane, turns and dives into the sea.
Witnesses action:
Photographs: No.
Sketch(s) by witness(es): No.
Sketch(es) approved by witness(es): No.
Witness(es) feelings: Puzzled.
Witnesses interpretation: No explanation.

Classifications:

Sensors: [X] Visual: 2+
[N/A] Airborne radar:
[N/A] Directional ground radar:
[N/A] Height finder ground radar:
[ ] Photo:
[ ] Film/video:
[ ] EM Effects:
[ ] Failures:
[ ] Damages:
Hynek: ?
Armed / unarmed: ?
Reliability 1-3: 1
Strangeness 1-3: 3
ACUFO: Possible extraterrestrial craft, unknown credibility.

Sources:

[Ref. hws1:] HAROLD T. WILKINS:

Scan.

In the summer of 1942 a fantastic incident occurred in the waters off Tasmania, a large island off the South Australian coast. My informant is a major in the Australian R.A.F., whom I will call Brennan. He is now stationed at the secret weapons and long-range missiles experimental desert station of Woomera:

"The whole yarn is so odd that I must ask you not to give my name if you write of it. We had orders not long after the Japanese attack on Darwin, to patrol the Bass Strait where fishermen had reported seeing mysterious lights on the sea at night.

"At 5:50 P.M., of a lovely sunny evening, we were flying some miles east of the Tasman Peninsula when, on a sudden, there came out of a cloud bank, a singular airfoil of glistening bronze color. I'd say it was around 150 feet long and about fifty feet in

Scan.

diameter. It had a sort of beak at its prow, and the surface seemed burled, or rippled, or fluted. On its upper surface was a dome, or cupola, from which I seemed to see reflected flashes as the sun struck something, which might or might not have been a helmet, worn by something inside. The other end of the airfoil fined out into a sort of fin. Every now and again there came from its keel greenish-blue flashes. It turned at a small angle towards us and I was amazed to see, framed in a white circle on the front of the dome, an image of a large, grinning Cheshire cat!

"The damn thing flew parallel to us for some minutes, and then it abruptly turned away and, as it did so, it showed four things like fins on its belly-side. It went off at a hell of a pace, turned and dived straight down into the Pacific, and went under, throwing up a regular whirlpool of waves! Just as if it had been a submarine. No, the Japs had nothing in the amphibian line like that mysterious bird!

"I've read your 'Flying Saucers on the Attack,' and saw what you said of the 'Foo Fighters.' We were in the same predicament as those American airmen. If we reported to intelligence what we'd seen, we should likely have been grounded as suffering from nerve strain. So we did not report it! What do you think the damned thing was?"

Your guess is as good as mine, Major Brennan. All I can say is that queer objects like that have been seen both on the North and South Atlantic, in 1872 and in 1882-but on the surface of the ocean, and not in the air. It may be that the shipmasters who saw them arrived after the things had risen from the depths or come down from the skies.

[Ref. mbd1:] MICHEL BOUGARD:

The author indicates that in the summer of 1942, a major in the Australian Royal Air Force noted in his report:

"We received orders, after the Japanese attack on Darwin, to patrol Bass Strait where fishermen had reported mysterious night glows. At around 5:50 p.m., at the very beginning of dusk, we were flying a few km east of the Tasmanian peninsula when, suddenly, from a bank of clouds, we saw a strange device emerge. It was bronze colored and shiny and must have been about 45 m long and 15 m in diameter. There was something like a beak or a spur at the front, and the surface of the object seemed to vibrate. At the upper part, there was a dome or cupola from which flashes emerged of blue and green light. The other end of the device ended in a fin. It circled around us in a very short turn and I was then surprised to see, at the front of the dome, a white circle at the inside which I thought I recognized the image of a grimacing cat. Then this damned device flew parallel to us for a few minutes, then suddenly turned around, presenting like four fins on its ventral side. It set off at breakneck speed and plunged into the Pacific, disappearing under the water which churned in regular waves. As if it were a submarine! No, it is not possible that the Japanese could have such devices, no one has been able to build such a mysterious amphibious bird."

[Ref. bcr1:] BILL CHALKER:

Scan.

AUSTRALIAN A. F. UFO

By BILL CHALKER
APRO Representative for Australia

[... other cases...]

My research indicates that extraordinary violations of our national airspace, beyond known enemy activity, were apparently occurring before even the RAAF started its own study. The following two accounts were reported to civilian sources.

Late one afternoon, during the summer of 1942, an RAAF pilot was flying patrol off the Tasman Peninsula, after fishermen had reported seeing mysterious lights on the sea at night in Bass Strait. At 5: 50 pm, "a singular airfoil of glistening bronze colour" came out of a cloud bank. The pilot estimated it was around 150 feet (50 metres) long and about 50 feet (15 metres) in diameter. It appeared to have a dome on top which reflected sunlight. The object flew parallel with the plane for some minutes, before abruptly turning away, at "a hell of a pace". It turned again and dived straight into the ocean, throwing up "a regular whirlpool of waves". The object vanished as if it had submerged like a submarine.

[... other cases...]

[Ref. lwr1:] DR. LOUIS WINKLER:

Scan.

1942/Tasman Peninsula/Wilkins (1955)

An object, 150 ft x 50 ft., flew parallel to the airplane and then turned away. It had the face of a Cheshire cat and flashed blue-green.

[Ref. lhh1:] LARRY HATCH:

461: 1942/08/00 17:50 5 146:30:00 E 40:15:00 S 3213 OCN AUS TSM 7:2
BASS STRAIT,AUS:50M DOMED OVOID PACES RAAF PLANE:TURNS 2X:DIVES/SEA:/r107p225
Ref# 65 HALL,Richard: Frm AIRSHIPS to ARNOLD Page No. 19: IN-FLIGHT

Which read: case #461, August 1942 at 05:50 p.m., on the ocean between Australia and Tasmania on the Bass Straight, an ovoid object with a dome of a 50 meters size paces a plane of the Royal Australian Air Force from which this was observed; the UFO veered twice and dove into the sea.

The source being "From Airship to Arnold", by Richard Hall on page 19.

[Ref. dwn1:] DOMINIQUE WEINSTEIN:

French ufologist Dominique Weinstein compiled a catalog of the cases of UFOs observed from aircraft ([dwn1]). The first case in February 2001 (6th edition) catalog appears as:

Scan.

DATE 42 summer
TIME 17:50
COUNTRY Australia
PLACE Tasman Peninsula
M
TYPE OF PLANE AND WITNESSES An RAF [sic] aircraft pilot
DESCRIPTION OVNI an object looking like a singular airfoil of glistering bronze color with a dome on top
Radar 413 419
G
X
E
SOURCES 413 419

The source "413" and "419" are referenced at the end of the catalog as:

413 Beyond Top-Secret, T. Good, Sidgwick and Jackson, 1996

419 The OZ files, Bill Chalker, 1996

[Ref. tgd2:] TIMOTHY GOOD:

This author indicates that after fishermen reported seeing strange lights seen in the Bass Strait in the summer of 1942, a Royal Australian Air Force aircraft on flying patrol off the Tasman Peninsula late one afternoon was approached by an unidentified object which came out of a cloud bank.

The pilot described the object as "a singular airfoil of glistening bronze colour", about 150 feet in length and 50 feet in diameter, with what seemed like a dome on top that reflected sunlight. The UFO flew alongside the plane for a few minutes, then suddenly turned away "at a hell of a pace." It turned again, then dived straight into the ocean, throwing up "a regular whirlpool of waves" and vanishing as though it had submerged like a submarine - thus effectively becoming an "unidentified submergible object" (USO).

Timothy Good indicates that the source is Bill Chalker in "Australian A.F. UFO reports Files", in The APRO Bulletin, Vol 30, No. 10, 1982, page 6-7.

[Ref. nip1:] "THE NICAP WEBSITE":

Summer 1942; Tasman Peninsula, Bass Strait between Island of Tasmania and Australia
A singular airfoil of glistening bronze color; domed upper surface; possible crew member, Cheshire cat emblem on dome. (Page 29 Ref 1)

[...]

References:

Ref. 1, Strange Company (2007), Keith Chester

[Ref. dwn2:] DOMINIQUE WEINSTEIN:

Scan.

Case 3
Summer 1942,

Tasman Peninsula, Australia

At 1750, a RAF pilot flying on patrol sighted an object looking like a singular airfoil of glistening bronze color with a dome on top. He described it as 150 ft long and 50 ft in diameter with a dome on top which reflected sun I ight. The object flew alongside the aircraft for a few minutes and then suddenly turned away at a "hell of pace". It made another turn and then suddenly dived straight into the ocean.

Sources: Beyond Top secret, Timothy Good, 1996, p; 152 / The OZ files, Bill Chalker

[Ref. kbd1:] KEITH BASTERFIELD:

This erudite Australian ufologist wrote about the case in the 2000's:

Summer 1942 Bass Strait Australia

In the summer of 1942 a fantastic incident occurred in the waters off Tasmania, a large island off the south Australian coast. My informant is a major in the Australian R.A.F. whom I will call Brennan. He is now stationed at the secret weapons and long-range missiles experimental desert station of Woomera:

"The whole yarn is so odd that I must ask you not to give my name if you write of it. We had orders not long after the Japanese attack on Darwin to patrol the Bass Strait where fishermen had reported seeing mysterious lights on the sea at night.

At 5:50 P.M., of a lovely, sunny evening, we were flying some miles east of the Tasman Peninsula when, on a sudden, there came out of a cloud bank, a singular airfoil of glistening bronze color. I'd say it was around 150 feet long and about fifty feet in diameter. It had a sort of beak at its prow, and the surface seemed burled, or rippled, or fluted. On its upper surface was a dome, or cupola, from which I seemed to see reflected flashes as the sun struck something, which might or might not have been a helmet worn by something inside. The other end of the airfoil fined out into a sort of fin. Every now and again there came from its keel greenish-blue flashes. It turned at a small angle towards us and I was amazed to see, framed in a white circle on the front of the dome, an image of a large, grinning Cheshire cat!

"The damn thing flew parallel to us for some minutes, and then it abruptly turned away and, as it did so, it showed four things like fins on its belly-side. It went off at a hell of a pace, turned and dived straight down into the Pacific, and went under, throwing up a regular whirlpool of waves! Just as if it had been a submarine. No, the Japs had nothing in the amphibian line like that mysterious bird!

"I've read your 'Flying Saucers on the Attack,' and saw what you said of the 'Foo Fighters.' We were in the same predicament as those American airmen. If we reported to intelligence what we'd seen, we should likely have been grounded as suffering from nerve-strain. So we did not report it! What do you think the damned thing was?

Source: Wilkins, H T. 1955. Flying Saucers Uncensored pp215-216.

Note:

1. I have been unable to locate any other documents about this case.

Aircraft information:

Nothing in the report is said about the aircraft. We can guess it was probably not a single-seater as the witness said "we" and never says the flight was of several airplanes. In 1942, R.A.A.F. in Australia was provided with large numbers of British-built airplanes such as the Bristol Beaufighter (operating with the RAAF as the A19), the Bristol Beaufort torpedo bomber. None were equipped with radar, all fitted with machine guns, most with several forward-mounted guns.

Discussion:

The Bass Strait is the portion of sea, indicated in the red circle, between South Australia and Tasmania:

Map.

Obviously what the Major reported to Wilkins was not a natural phenomenon, not a known aircraft. However the issue is the credibility. However, it is not totally dubious because a) Wilkins id not known for making up stuff and b) the Major did give his name to Wilkins.

"UFO-skeptics" of all times and all places have been repeatedly claiming that because Kenneth Arnold's 1947 sighting was described as a sighting of "flying saucers" in the newspapers, people then also started to report "flying saucers". This case is just one other example among many in which the description of the witness, true or not, is absolutely not of a "flying saucer" type craft.

Also, though the witness was aware of the "Foo Fighters" of WWII, his description of the craft is very different from the bulk of descriptions of the "Foo Fighters."

Evaluation:

Possible extraterrestrial craft, unknown credibility.

Sources references:

* = Source is available to me.
? = Source I am told about but could not get so far. Help needed.

File history:

Authoring:

Main author: Patrick Gross
Contributors: None
Reviewers: None
Editor: Patrick Gross

Changes history:

Version: Create/changed by: Date: Description:
0.1 Patrick Gross September 25, 2023 Creation, [hws1], [lhh1], [dwn1], [nip1], [dwn2], [kbd1].
1.0 Patrick Gross September 25, 2023 First published.
1.1 Patrick Gross September 28, 2023 Addition [lwr1].
1.2 Patrick Gross October 24, 2023 Additions [mbd1], [tgd2].
1.3 Patrick Gross November 5, 2023 Addition [bcr1].

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This page was last updated on November 5, 2023.