indicates that Augusta (CA 31) was assigned aircraft from VCS-7, which also included Tuscaloosa (CA 37), San Francisco (CA 38), Quincy (CA 39), Vincennes (CA 44), and Wichita (CA 45). Augusta's sister Houston (CA 30) was assigned floatplanes from VCS-4. Knowing all of that, can you smoke out WHEN Augusta's O3U-1s were replaced by SOCs? Did she keep the Vought floatplanes until she returned stateside or were they replaced while she was still in the Far East? Okay, first some history on Augusta for the seven years she served as the flagship of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet.
Augusta arrived at Shanghai in early November 1933, relieving sister Houston as flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. Given this following photograph, taken c1933-1934, I think we may conclude that Augusta had aboard four Vought O3U-1 Corsair floatplanes upon her arrival in Far Eastern waters.
In regard to the photo you cite, Augusta sailed for Australia in October 1934, arriving Sydney on the 20th, and Admiral Frank B. Upham, CinCAF, visited Canberra. She departed Sydney on the 26th and arrived Melbourne on the 29th, remaining there for the centennary festivities and a continued goodwill visit until November 13, 1934, thereupon visiting Perth/Fremantle, and departing Australian waters on the 20th for Batavia, Java, NEI. Your photo of her at dockside in Melbourne pretty much proves she still had her O3U-1 floatplanes aboard at that time.
While flagship of the Asiatic Fleet during the seven years between November 1933 and November 1940, Augusta enjoyed an annual overhaul at Cavite Navy Yard, usually beginning at year's end (though that gradually shifted into January of the following year), and lasting a few months; sometimes she went to Olongapo in Subic Bay to avail herself of floating drydock Dewey (YFD 1).
At such times her floatplanes were removed from the ship to receive maintenance themselves and then to operate from the naval air station at Sangley Point. Those times would have afforded as well the perfect opportunity to replace her operational aircraft with more modern types. With their folding wings, replacement SOCs could have been readily shipped to Cavite in one of the large navy transports regularly making the transpacific run. The question remains, were they?
Also of note is the succession of flag officers serving as CinCAF: (i) Admiral Orin G. Murfin relieved Admiral Upham on October 5, 1935; (ii) Admiral Harry E. Yarnell relieved his USNA classmate Admiral Murfin on October 30, 1936; (iii) Admiral Thomas C. Hart relieved Admiral Yarnell on July 25, 1939. Sixteen months later, Augusta was relieved by her partially modernized sister, Houston, and thereupon departed for home and the long-deferred upgrades in her secondary armament and other equipment, and the installation of a CXAM radar set. The relevant factor in all of these comings and goings is the difficulty in believing that Augusta kept those increasingly outmoded O3U-1 aircraft for all seven years, under an admiral's eye, until the flagship returned stateside. The following photograph shows Augusta at Shanghai ca. August 1937, but I cannot ID the floatplanes aboard with certainty (the vertical stabilizer could be that of either the SOC or the O3U-1, but not of the O3U-3). Do you want to take a shot at it?
Again, let's see if we can find precisely when her Vought O3U-1s were replaced by Curtiss SOCs.