ADF-SERIALS
Australian & New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials & History

RAAF A4 & A14 Tugan/Wackett LJW7 Gannet

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Wackett Gannet A14-3

     
 

Tugan/Wackett Gannet Image Gallery

 
     
 

The Tugan LJW7 Gannet, also known as the Wackett Gannet after its designer Sir Lawrence Wackett, was a small twin-engined airliner built initially by Tugan Aircraft in Australia in the mid-1930s until Tugan was absorbed into the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) in 1937. The Gannett was the first Australian-designed aircraft to enter series production and it was the first Australian-designed and built aircraft to be taken on strength by the Royal Australian Air Force.  Apart from being the first Australian designed aircraft in RAAF service it was also the first monoplane introduced into Australian military service.

 

The Air Board purchased two Gannets (A14-1 and A14-2) from Tugan Aircraft in 1935 and 1936 for use by the RAAF in general transport duties and aerial photographic surveys.  Both aircraft were traded in to the CAC as a down payment for additional [improved] Gannets in December 1937. A14-1 was upgraded and modified then placed in storage with CAC until it was impressed into RAAF service in June 1940. A14-2 was also upgraded but it was sold and operated in Papua New Guinea as VH-UXE until it was destroyed by the 1st Japanese  air raid on Port Moresby - 24Feb42.  

 

Two more Gannets were purchased from CAC in December 1937; one purchased in March 1938; and, two more impressed into Service in June 1940. All five Gannets (A14-3 thru A14-7) were initially operated as general duties transport aircraft before they were all modified as Air Ambulances in 1942 and allocated to No 2 Air Ambulance Unit. The Gannets performed yeoman service in the air ambulance role and in this role they carried thousands of patients and transported hundreds of tons of medical supplies to remote areas of Australia. Their service in remote areas with minimal support and rough conditions took its toll and three of the five aircraft were lost to accidents between 1942 and 1944. The two remaining aircraft were scrapped in 1946.

 
     
 
Serial c/n

Aircraft History

A4-1 TA.53

The first Gannet temporarily carried the serial A4-1, which was the number later allocated to the first Avro Anson (formerly RAF K6212).
See A14-1 Below.

A14-1

TA.53

1935          Ordered by RAAF Air Board and allocated the Serial A4-1.

1935          Manufactured as an Mk.I Gannet by Tugan Aircraft Ltd at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW.

14Nov35     First flight at Mascot

25Nov35    Delivered to 3 Sqn at RAAF Richmond and taken on RAAF Charge. This was the first Australian designed and built aircraft to be operated by the RAAF.  The Air Board changed the serial prefix when it was realised that A4 had already been allocated to the new Avro Anson order due for delivery in 1936. Gannet A4-1 was therefore re-serialled as A14-1.

26Nov35    Test trials flown on 26-27-28 Nov by O313 FLTLT Jerrold Ronald Fleming. Tests were designed to identify any weaknesses or manufacturing defects before acceptance into service.

03Dec35    Returned to Tugan for rectification/repairs.

04Dec35    Allocated to No 1 Aircraft Depot at RAAF Base Laverton, VIC.

07Dec35    Returned to 3 Sqn from Tugan.

08Dec35    Ferried to 1AD via Cootamundra, NSW by O313 FLTLT Jerrold Ronald Fleming. Aircraft was modified for aerial survey work and fitted with cameras.

01Feb36     Temporary allocation to No 1 Sqn RAAF Laverton for Photographic Survey work.

03Feb36    Departed for Launceston, TAS to begin a photographic survey trial. A 30km x 50km area (1500km2) was surveyed during the trial period between 04-24Feb. Crew was: pilot O37 FLTLT Alan Moorhouse Charlesworth; photographer A882 CPL James Fitzgerald Kelly; and, aero fitter A838 LAC Walter Roy Burns.

26Feb36    Returned to 1AD. Aircraft serviced and prepared for further survey tasking.

20Mar36    Departed Laverton with O315 FLTLT Valston Eldridge Hancock (pilot); O50 FLTLT Ivor James Lightfoot (observer); and A1658 AC1 W. Miles (fitter) to conduct a survey of proposed Weapons Range sites in VIC & NSW. The eight-day survey route flown was: Laverton – Waikere – Mildura – Yancowinna – Hay – Deniliquin – Laverton.

01Apr36     Allocated to No 1 Sqn at RAAF Laverton for use by the North Australia Survey Flight (NASF) 1936 program. The task of the NASF was to support the Aerial, Geological and Geophysical Survey of Northern Australia under the direction of the Commonwealth’s consultant on development, Sir Herbert Gepp.

04Apr36    A five-man NASF ground party departed Melbourne by ship on the SS Mandura to Townsville, then entrained for the NASF Base at Cloncurry, QLD.

14Apr36     A14-1 departed for Cloncurry with O316 FLTLT Anthony George Carr and photographer LAC Andrew Bain and, fitter A4626 LAC Michael Patrick Hanrahan. Aircraft was diverted to search for the missing 3 Sqn Dragon Rapide A3-2 near Newcastle Waters in the Northern Territory. Engine problems with A14-1 on 17 April forced a lay-over at Wave Hill, NT thus missing the search operation.  Aircraft eventually arrived in Cloncurry on 28Apr36.

03May36    Commenced NASF tasks.

26May36    T.22 and T.F. radio equipment was railed up from Laverton for fitment at Cloncurry to assist in the survey work.

22Jun36    Flew to Normanton QLD to carry out a three day Geological Photographic Survey of Golden Gate and Croydon Queen Reefs. Crew was pilot O316 FLTLT Anthony George Carr; photographer LAC A. Bain: fitter A4626 LAC Michael Patrick Hanrahan and Commonwealth Geologist Mr Clappison. Returned to Cloncurry on 26Jun for servicing.

29Jun36    Flew from Cloncurry to Darwin to conduct a water resource survey for the NT Government. Crew was: pilot O316 FLTLT Anthony George Carr; photographer LAC A. Bain: fitter A4626 LAC Michael Patrick Hanrahan; and, W/T operator LAC WC Thompson. Returned to Cloncurry on O6Jul.

08Jul36     Departed Cloncurry for a ferry flight to Mascot airport Sydney via Bourke. Flown by pilot O316 FLTLT Anthony George Carr with passengers A4626 LAC Michael Patrick Hanrahan and LAC WC Thompson. Weather forced an unplanned stop-over at Parkes NSW (09Jul) and arrived at Richmond 1300hrs 10Jul.

11Jul36      Received by Tugan Aircraft for modifications and servicing.

25Jul36     Aircraft flight tested by Tugan test pilot Mr D. Graham following modifications.

29Jul36     Ferried to Cloncurry by FLTT Carr with LACs Hanrahan and Thompson.

30Jul36     Departed for Pine Creek NT, 220km south of Darwin. Carried out surveys of Brunette, Daly Waters and Fitzmaurice Rivers areas and returned to Cloncurry on 07Aug36. Crew was FLTT Carr with LACs Bain, Hanrahan and Thompson.

14Aug36     Departed Cloncurry for a survey of Croydon and surrounds in the QLD Gulf Country.

20Aug36    Flew to Pine Creek for further survey work. Whilst there the aircraft was tasked to fly to Darwin and pick up the Federal Minister for Commerce (Dr Earl Page) and fly him to Cloncurry where the Minister was picked up by a Demon aircraft from 3 SQN and flown to Canberra. !

10Sep36     Flown to Darwin and performed special reconnaissance tasks for Major General Laverack in the Darwin area. Returned to Cloncurry via Pine Creek and Burnette on 19Sep.

26Sep36    The NASF task completed and FLTLT Carr with LACs Bain, Hanrahan and Thompson departed for Laverton. Route taken was Cloncurry-Charleville-Nyngan-Cootamundra-Laverton.

28Sep36    Received by 1AD for overhaul and engine servicing.

10Oct36     FLTLT Carr with LAC W. Miles flew to Seymour (100km north of Melbourne) where the Governor General Lord Gowrie and his Aide-de-Camp Lord Ranfurley were picked up and flown to Newstead Race Course Melbourne to attend the Castlemaine Agricultural Show. !

16Oct36     Flew to Sydney to help search for missing journalists from a Hawkesbury River boating accident that killed 11 people.  Crew was O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew with fitter A3326 AC1 Alexander Charles McBride and W/T operator A1330 AC1 Paul Eugene Dines.

20Nov36    Direction Finding (DF) Equipment installed and tested by 1AD Technical Squadron staff.

Nov36        Aircraft used to conduct a series of flights to test the newly installed Lorenz Beam Approach equipment at Essendon Airport, Melbourne. Pilot was O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew.

15Dec36     Participated in the search for missing Bulldog A12-7 in the Brisbane Ranges. Crew was O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew, FLGOFF Blake and SGT Eckert.

02Feb37    Temporary allocation to No 1 Sqn for Photographic Survey work.

23Feb37    Departed Laverton to conduct aerial surveys in Tasmania of the Epping-Campbell Town area; the mouth of the Derwent and Brown rivers; and, Frederick Henry Bay.  1 Sqn staff were O438966 PLTOFF David John McLean; LACs W.R Burns, W.C. Thompson & J.H Johnson. Survey concluded 09Mar37.

01Mar37    Departed Laverton to conduct aerial surveys of proposed Armament Training Camp sites at Menindi, Bourke and Cootamundra NSW. Pilot was O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew and WOP A1327 CPL A.M.J Clark from 21 Sqn. The survey was completed 07Mar.

15Mar37    Departed Laverton flown by O11 PLTOFF Donald James Macpherson to conduct an 820km2 aerial survey around Mt Gambier SA for the Council for Scientific & Industrial Research.  The Survey concluded on 01Apr37.

23Apr37    Departed Laverton with NASF to North QLD for the 1937 program from Apr to Jul 37. Crew was O438966 PLTOFF David John McLean; WOP A78650 CPL William Thomas Thomson; LAC Everingham (photographer) and AC1 Ellerton (fitter).

20Jun37    Ran into soft sand at the side of Cairns airport, QLD and tipped onto nose, crushed the lower half of the nose cone. Pilot O438966 PLTOFF David John McLean was uninjured.

30July37    Fin and rudder were replaced and extra fuel tanks installed at 1AD.

01Sep37     Received by 1AD Survey & Communications Flight (SCF) at RAAF Laverton on its formation.

Oct37        RAAF requested Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to quote a price to recondition and modify Mk.1 Gannets A14-1 & A14-2

Dec37        CAC counter proposal was for the RAAF to buy a new Gannet Mk.II for $27,600 and trade in Gannets A14-1 & A14-2 as part payment to the value of $14,400. The CAC proposal was accepted.

Dec37        Aircraft struck off charge and traded in to CAC at Fishermans Bend, VIC.

 

A14-2

TA.56

20Aug36    Built as an Mk.1 Gannet at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW by Tugan Aircraft Ltd.

07Sep36    First flight by Mr P.G Graham.

14Oct36     Allocated registration VH-UXE. Stored pending sale.

10Nov36     RAAF Order No 22185/36 issued for purchase of Gannet Mk.I A14-2.

27Nov36    Delivered to No 2 Aircraft Depot at RAAF Base Richmond, NSW.

29Nov36    Allocated to No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) at RAAF Base Laverton, VIC for fitment of survey and radio equipment.

02Dec36    Ferried to 1AD by O38 FLTLT William Gordon Rae via Goulburn and Cootamundra.

18Dec36     O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew flew O1 AVM Richard Williams to Adelaide and return for the Adelaide Centenary Celebrations.

03Feb37    Participated in the search for missing Demon A1-8 near Waratah, Tasmania. Crew of O73 FLGOFF John Margrave Lerew, aero fitter A1583 CPL George Horne Harford and W/T operator A36662 CPL Arthur William Clarke, search ended successfully and the a/c returned on 7th Feb.

07Apr37    Conducted a 10 day survey of possible RAAF Aerodrome sites in Victoria and Southern NSW. Flown by O73 FLTLT John Margrave Lerew with WGCDR Alan Hepburn, A78650 CPL William Thomas Thomson and fitter AC1 A.E. Moore

07May37    Departed Laverton [O324 FLTLT William Lloyd Hely & LAC W.T. Taylor, LAC H.W. Johnson and LAC A.E. Moore] for Oodnadatta Qld for duty with the North Australia Survey Flight (NASF) 1937 program. Route taken was Laverton - Murray Bridge – Parafield - Port Pirie - Alice Springs - Grannite-Oodnadatta.

22May37    Aircraft was at Oodnadatta, QLD doing survey work when it was tasked to search for missing Rapide A3-2 between Alice Springs and Tanami.

23May37    Successfully located the missing aircraft at the NE corner of Lake Mackay, 650 km west of Alice Springs on the WA-NT border. The crew of A33-2 O316 FLTLT Anthony George Carr, A77697 SGT Herbert Claude Bleakley WOP, LAC M. Hanrahan and passengers Sir Herbert Gepp and Mr P.B. Nye were uninjured, but thirsty and hungry.

26May37    Returned to Oodnadatta to continue survey work.

04Aug37    Arrived Alice Springs on return leg to Laverton at completion of the survey task. 191 hrs spent on surveying and more than 700 photographs were taken..

01Sep37     Received by 1AD Survey & Communications Flight (SCF) at RAAF Laverton on its formation.

Oct37        RAAF requested Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to quote for modified Mk.1 Gannets A14-1 & A14-2

Dec37        CAC counter proposal was for the RAAF to buy a new Gannet Mk.II for $27,600 and trade in Gannets A14-1 & A14-2 as part payment to the value of $14,400. The CAC proposal was accepted.

Dec37        Aircraft struck off charge and traded in to CAC at Fishermans Bend, VIC.

 

Post RAAF Career.

29Apr38    Completed full overhaul and put up for resale. Total airframe time - 301 hours.

07Jul38     Test flown by RAAF pilot after overhaul.

12Jul38      CAC request for civil airworthiness certification and registration.

25Jul38     Restored to Register as VH-UXE, and Certificate of Airworthiness renewed.

06Feb39    Leased to Stephens Aviation Ltd Wau, New Guinea. Fitted with long range tanks.

20May39    Technical inspection at Wau. Total airframe time - 358 hours.

10Aug39     Test flown after C of A renewal inspection. Total airframe time - 402 hours.

10Aug40     Test flown after C of A renewal inspection. Total airframe time - 729 hours.

06Feb41     Suffered minor damage when a severe wind storm wrecked the Mandated Airlines hangar at Wau PNG.

Feb42        Took part in the civilian evacuation from New Guinea highlands to Port Moresby ahead of the Japanese Army advance.

20Feb42    DCA telegram to Stephens Aviation at Port Moresby as follows:

"RAAF require Gannet removed immediately Port Moresby to Australia. What are your intentions? Reply urgently." There is no record of any response.

24Feb42    While parked at Seven Mile Strip the aircraft was destroyed during the 1st daylight air raid on Port Moresby conducted by G4M1 Betty Bombers and A6M2 Zeros of the Japanese Navy’s 4th Kokutai from Vunakanau airfield, Rabaul.

 

Postscript:

The Townsville Railway Station Master was handed the log book, CofA & Registration papers of VH-UXE by staff who had been evacuated from Port Moresby.  Location today unknown.

 

A14-3

TA.57

1936/37     Built at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW started by Tugan Aircraft Ltd.  On 1st November 1936 Tugan was merged into the structure of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC). Therefore, A14-3 became one of the first batch of CAC production aircraft.

30Mar37    Certificate of Manufacture No CM6 issued by CAC Pty Ltd, Cook St, Mascot, Sydney.

02Apr37    First flight by Mr O.B Hall at Mascot.

08Apr37    Registration application lodged with Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB),

23Apr37    Test flown by CAB Superintendent of Operations FLTLT David Ross.  Registered as VH-UYE.

30May37    CAB approval for an urgent charter to New Guinea prior to issue of CofA and CofR.

01Jun37     Departed Mascot for Rabual. Chartered by Daily Telegraph to cover the volcanic eruption at Rabaul. Pilot Charles Gatenby, Flight engineer Sid Marshall and four passengers. Route was: Sydney-Brisbane-Rockhampton-Townsville-Port Douglas [beach landing]-Port Moresby [beach landing]-Lae-Rabaul.

05Jun30    Returned to Mascot, flight covered 5,500 miles in 48 hrs 20 min flying time.  The flight was widely reported at the time and should be remembered because it was the first time an Australian designed and built aircraft had made an overseas flight.

07Oct37    Registered as VH-UYE to CAC Pty Ltd Mascot, Sydney.

Dec37        RAAF Order No A30974/37 issued for purchase of Gannet Mk.II A14-3.

Jan38        Modified by CAC to RAAF Requirements: control wheel replaced stick type; new wheel assemblies with balloon tyres; larger cabin door with stretcher access; vertical camera mounts; new flight instruments; and sundry other minor fittings

03Feb38    Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) at RAAF Base Laverton, VIC and taken on charge as A14-3 Gannet Mk.II fitted with Gipsy VI Series engines.

04Feb38    Issued to 1AD Communications & Survey Flight (1ADCSF) at RAAF Laverton.

06Feb38    Departed for Singapore (pilot SQNLDR Allen Walters), carrying AVM Richard Williams to the 1938 Imperial Defence Conference and the opening of the Singapore Naval Dockyard.

23Feb38    Returned from above mission - 91 flying hours.

Mar38        Departed Laverton for duty with the North Australian Survey Flight (NASF) in the 1938 program - Mar to Oct 38.

Oct38        Carried leader of the NASF, Sir Herbert Gepp, to central Australia to inspect the survey operation.

25Oct38    Underwent engine change at Alice Springs, new engine flown from Laverton by Anson.

28Oct38    Returned to 1ADCSF.

04Oct39    Allocated to the 1939 NASF program from Sep to Dec 39. Then returned to 1ADCSF.

07Feb40    Port undercarriage leg collapsed on landing at Laverton. Minor damage to port wing.

01Jul40      Moved with CSF to RAAF Station Canberra.

Jul40         Allocated to Southern Queensland Survey Detachment surveying potential airfield sites in the Wide Bay, Bundaberg and Maryborough areas.

Mar41        Used for aerial survey work in Eastern Victoria.

20May41    Hit a fence after landing at Benalla airfield. Undercarriage torn off, damaged port wing and nose section.

21Jun41     Issued to Butler Air Transport at Mascot airport for repair and overhaul.

Mar42        Modified to air ambulance standard. Fitment of two moveable stretchers, medicine lockers and a collapsible seat. The modified aircraft could carry five people: pilot, W/T operator, two stretcher patients and either a sitting patient or medical orderly/nurse.

01Apr42     Received by No 2 Air Ambulance Unit (2AAU) at RAAF Station Canberra.

21Apr42     Departed for 2AAU Detachment at Daly Waters, WA. Ferried from Canberra: SGT F.E. Smallhorn; LACs Brill, Smith and Curphey. Route was Mildura-Port Pirie-Oodnadatta-Alice Springs-Tennants Creek- Daly Waters.

15May42    Port engine blew cylinder head on flight from Batchelor to Katherine. Repaired at Katherine.

16May42    Flew three Leper cases to Mt Isa.

14Jul42      Flew Batchelor-Groote Eylandt-Batchelor, picked up patients.

06Aug42    Port undercarriage collapsed on landing at Millingimbi NT. Minor damage to wing and fabric. Pilot PLTOFF John Ingham and crew uninjured.

16Oct42     Received by No 1 Repair & Salvage Unit (1RSU) at Manbullo NT for repair.

19Nov42     Awaiting collection at 1RSU.

22Dec42    Received by 2AAU at RAAF Canberra. Ferried along same route as stated in 21Apr42 entry.

Feb43        Detached for duty with 2AAU Kingaroy, QLD, pilot FLTLT C.C Loxton

Mar43        Conveyed Col B.J Ward 3rd DIV to locations in Queensland to arrange evacuation route & procedures for allied wounded.

22Mar43    Returned to Canberra from Kingaroy detachment, pilot FLTLT C.S Hill.

15Apr43     Detached for duty with 2AAU Kingaroy, QLD, pilot SGT 40882 F. E. Smallhorn

15May43    Departed for No 3 Aircraft Depot (3AD) at RAAF Base Amberley, QLD for overhaul, pilot SGT 40882 F. E. Smallhorn

17Jul43      Received by 2AAU at RAAF Canberra.

21Jul43      Flew Canberra-Archerfield-Maryborough-Archerfield-Mascot with three patients.

01Oct43     Port engine failed at Mascot. Request allocation for repair and overhaul with contractor.

07Oct43    Allocated to & received by Marshall Airways for complete overhaul.

07Apr44    Received by No 2 Aircraft Park at Bankstown.

13Apr44     Received by 2AAU.

20Apr44    Departed for duty with 2AAU Detachment Kingaroy, QLD.

14Sep44     Allocated to No 4 Communications Unit (4CU) at Archerfield, Brisbane.

19Oct44     Received by 4CU, ferried by FLGOFF Kennedy.

23Oct44    Archerfield - Kingaroy round trip, FLGOFF Kennedy.

31Oct44     Departed for duty with 2AAU Detachment at Corunna Downs, WA, pilot FLGOFF Kennedy. Owing to various accidents and misadventures the ferry trip took more than a month to complete, finally arriving in Carnarvon WA on 12Dec44. Unfortunately, the 2AAU Detachment was shut down on 31Nov44!

16Dec44     Issued to No 17 Repair & Salvage Unit at RAAF Station Pearce, WA.

02Jan45    Allocated to 2AAU at RAAF Canberra

05Jan45    Allocation cancelled, reallocated to 2AD Care & Maintenance Unit (2ADCMU), RAAF Evans Head, NSW.

18Jan45     Received by 2ADCMU and placed in storage.

07Sep45    2ADCMU survey report recommended the aircraft for conversion.

24Jul46     2ADCMU directed to destroy the aircraft by burning. Directive carried out.

 

Highlight for Album: Wackett Gannet A14-3

A14-4

TA.58

1937           Built at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).

May37        Ordered by Broken Hill Pty Ltd, Melbourne VIC as an executive transport.

06Jul37     Certificate of Manufacture No CM7 issued by CAC Pty Ltd, Cook St, Mascot, Sydney.

08Jul37     First flight by Mr O.B Hall at Mascot.

06Aug37    Registration application lodged with Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB),

06Aug37    Test flown by CAB.

02Sep37    Registered as VH-UYF.

Oct37        Delivered to CAC Fishermans Bend Factory, Melbourne following RAAF request for CAC to supply two new Gannet aircraft. Modified by CAC to RAAF Requirements: control wheel replaced stick type; new wheel assemblies with balloon tyres; larger cabin door with stretcher access; vertical camera mounts; new flight instruments; and sundry other minor fittings.

Dec37        RAAF Order No A30974/37 issued for purchase of Gannet Mk.II A14-4.

24Mar38    Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) RAAF Base Laverton, VIC and brought onto RAAF Charge.

24Mar38    Allocated to 1AD Recruit Training Squadron (RTS) and issued to Communications & Survey Flight (CSF).

12Apr38     Departed Laverton as part of the 1938 Northern Australian Survey Flight (NASF) program.

12Jul38      Returned to 1ADCSF, pilot FLTLT Donald McLean.

19Sep38     Issued to de Havilland Aircraft at Mascot airfield, Sydney for airframe & propellor inspection.

25Sep38    Allocated to 1ADCSF. Conducted survey flights in NSW and VIC until July 1939.

12Jul39      Departed for the 1939 NASF program. Then returned to 1ADCSF in May40.

01Jul40      Moved with Survey Flight to RAAF Station Canberra.

1940/41     Conducted aerial surveys in NT, QLD, NSW, VIC and WA.

22Dec41     Returned to RAAF Canberra.

14Jan42     Allocated to 1AD for complete overhaul.

18Jan42     Received by 1AD.

25Mar42    Allocated to No 2 Air Ambulance Unit (2AAU) at RAAF Station Canberra.

13Apr44     Received by 2AAU.

08May42    Allocated to 1AD.

10May42    Force landed in paddock near Laverton on delivery to 1AD. Nose damaged and longerons twisted.

Jun42        Modified to air ambulance standard. Fitment of two moveable stretchers, medicine lockers and a collapsible seat. The modified aircraft could carry five people: pilot, W/T operator, two stretcher patients and either a sitting patient or medical orderly/nurse.

22Jun42    Received by 2AAU.

20Nov42    Petrol blockage caused forced landing on Terrigal Beach, NSW. No damage.

09Jan43    Port engine failed after take-off at Coffs Harbour, NSW, forced landing - no damage.

03Apr43    Allocated to Ansett Airways at Mascot airport for complete overhaul.

13Apr43     Received by Ansett.

28Feb44    Issued to No 2 Aircraft Park at Bankstown Airport, Sydney.

07Mar44    Received by 2AAU Detachment Kingaroy, QLD.

09Apr44    Received by 2AAU Detachment Corunna Downs, WA.

25Aug44    Aircraft took-off from Exmouth at 0519 hrs in heavy mist on an urgent medivac flight to Argyle Downs. Soon after take-off the pilot became disorientated in the night/mist weather conditions and crashed into the sea. After daybreak an Anson aircraft [W1544] located the wreckage one mile from the airfield and 50 yards out to sea, with wreckage spread about the surrounding area. All three aboard the aircraft were killed: pilot 401423 FLGOFF Gordon Edward Dix (25) single of Melbourne VIC; W/O 21710 SGT Norman Catton (28) married of Leichardt, NSW; and doctor 281103 SQNLDR John Clive Sangster (31) married of Clare, SA.

 

FLGOFF Dix is buried in the Geraldton War Cemetery, WA Plot B. Row A. Grave 5.

SGT Catton is buried in the Geraldton War Cemetery, WA Plot B. Row A. Grave 2.

SQNLDR Sangster is buried in the Geraldton War Cemetery, WA Plot B. Row B. Grave 8.

 

A14-5

TA.59

1937           Built at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW by Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC).  The last Gannet manufactured.

16Oct37     Certificate of Manufacture No CM8 issued by CAC Pty Ltd, Cook St, Mascot, Sydney.

Oct37        First flight by Mr O.B Hall at Mascot.

03Nov37    Civil Aeronautics Board inspected the aircraft at Mascot to determine suitability for registration.

04Nov37    Registration application by CAC.

08Nov37    Delivered to CAC factory at Fishermans Bend Melbourne, VIC.

09Nov37    C of A issued. Registered as VH-UZW to CAC.

Mar38        CAC offered the Air Board a new Tugan LJW.7 Wackett completed for photography and fitted with wireless at a cost of 6,000 pounds to replace the crashed Rapide A3-2.

19Mar38    CAC offer approved by the Minister of Defence, with additional requirements for survey duties.

24Mar38    Aircraft handed over to the RAAF and Bought on Charge.

22Aug38    Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) at RAAF Base Laverton, VIC.

23Sep38    Allocated to 1AD Recruit Training Squadron (RTS) and issued to Communications & Survey Flight (CSF).

12Apr38     Departed Laverton as part of the 1938 Northern Australian Survey Flight (NASF) program.

04Oct39    Issued to the newly formed independent Survey Flight.   

01Jul40      Moved with Survey Flight to RAAF Station Canberra.

30Mar41    Conducted survey of the Bairnsdale area of eastern Victoria.

21Apr41     Received by 1AD for overhaul.

28Apr41     Issued to Ansett Airways, Essendon for engine overhaul and repaint in earth brown and foliage green camouflage.

Jul41          Used for the development of the ambulance fittings by Ansett Airways.

09Sep41     Received by Survey Flight, Canberra.

13Jan42     Received by 1AD for installation of air ambulance modifications and overhaul.

08Mar42    Allocated to No 2 Air Ambulance Unit (2AAU) at RAAF Station Canberra.

12Mar42    Received by 2AAU Detachment Daly Waters, NT.

29Mar42    Tipped onto nose when taxied into soft ground at Daly Waters. Minor damage.

18Apr42     Received 2AAU Canberra for servicing.

30May42    Additional air ambulance modifications incorporated.

08Jun42    Performed an emergency medevac to Charters Towers, QLD.

15Jun42     Crashed on take-off from Canberra at 1325 hrs. Port engine failed causing the aircraft to lose height and strike trees two miles from the airfield. The aircraft was destroyed and the crew suffered minor injuries. Pilot FLTLT B.W Graham - fractured ankle and shock; 4369 SGT R.C Kupsch abrasions and shock; 19736 SGT J.P Craig fractured shoulder blade and shock; and, 408530 SGT G.G Smith abrasions and shock.

29Jun42    Aircraft converted to components.

 

Highlight for Album: Wackett Gannet A14-5

A14-6

TA.55

Pre RAAF Career:

 

1936           Manufactured as an Mk.I Gannet by Tugan Aircraft Ltd at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney NSW, with two Menasco Buccaneer B6S3 supercharged engines imported from the USA. Fitted with Hamilton Standard adjustable propellers.

05Jun36    Allocated registration VH-UVY to "Gannett No 4".

25Jun36    First flight at Mascot.

11Sep36     Certificate of Manufacture as 'Monoplane No 4' by Tugan Aircraft Ltd, Cook St Mascot, Sydney NSW.

12Sep36     Performance test flights flown for Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB).

01Sep36     Accumulated a total of 80 flight hours.

29Oct36    Certificate of Registration issued as VH-UVY, and Certificate of Airworthiness issued.

11Dec36     Additional CAB test flights flown.

23Feb37    Change of ownership to Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd, Fishermans Bend VIC.

01Jun37     Leased to Intercity Airways, Sydney.

03Jun37    Strong head winds on flight from Broken Hills to Narromine resulted in fuel shortage and forced landing near 'Heydon Downs' Station near Narromine, NSW. Pilot and five passengers uninjured.

04Jun37    Departed 'Heydon Downs' for Sydney at 1100 hrs but bad weather caused a diversion to Newcastle.  Departed Newcastle for Sydney at 1530 hrs but severe weather north of Sydney forced a return to Newcastle. Fading light and weather caused a forced landing at Gosford Golf course where the aircraft ran into a ditch and collapsed the undercarriage, damaging the port wing spar.

06Jun37    Aircraft transported by road to Mascot and repairs began.

10Nov37     Test flown after repairs and rebuild.

25Nov37    CofA renewed.

1938           Moved to CAC factory at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne VIC.

24Nov38    CofA expired. CAC advised it would not be renewed. Aircraft placed into storage.

21Sep39     CAC offered the Air Board two Gannets for immediate use.

 

RAAF Career:

 

1940           Impressment Requisition issued by the Australian Government for use by the RAAF.

25Jun40    Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) at RAAF Base Laverton, VIC and bought on charge. Fitted with Gipsy V1 engines.

01Jul40      Received by Survey Flight (SF) at RAAF Station Canberra.

30Jul40     A loose engine cowling caused severe vibrations; pilot PLTOFF Richard Winter ordered the photographer, LAC Martin, to bail out as a precaution. Aircraft recovered safely to Canberra.

22Aug40    At 1010 hrs soon after take-off the port engine failed, a safe recovery to Base was made. Pilot PLTOFF Richard Winter and observer 529 FSGT P Sterling were uninjured.

03Aug41     Received by HQ at RAAF Station Pearce. Was coded 'Z' on nose cone.

30Aug41     Received by SF at Canberra.

08Mar42    Allocated to No 2 Air Ambulance Unit (2AAU) at Canberra.

Apr42        Modified to air ambulance standard. Fitment of two moveable stretchers, medicine lockers and a collapsible seat. The modified aircraft could carry five people: pilot, W/T operator, two stretcher patients and either a sitting patient or medical orderly/nurse.

01May42    Received by 2AAU Detachment at Batchelor Strip NT.

19May42    Aircraft departed Batchelor for Groot Eylandt to collect an ill airman.  The crew became lost over Arnhem Land and, running short of fuel, attempted a forced landing. However, the apparent flat grassed area they picked out as a landing area turned out to be a swamp and when the wheels touched down the aircraft pitched nose-over and landed on its back.  The crew suffered no serious injuries but their radio calls and gone unanswered and their location was therefore unknown to the outside world.

 

After 10 days survival in the hostile terrain the crew constructed a make-shift raft from aircraft parts and set off drifting down the Cato River.  After several days they were located by Aborigines who took them to Elcho Island Mission then on to the RAAF Station on Millingimbi Island, where they arrived 33 days after the crash. The crew: pilot FSGT Francis Smallhorn; W/T Operator AC1 George Booth; and, Nursing Orderly CPL Phillip Bronk were flown by Anson from Millingimbi to Batchelor Strip then by USAAC B-17 to Sydney for one month’s survivors leave.

 

28Jun42    The aircraft was approved for write off and conversion to spares, which proved impossible to do as the wreckage was never found.

Miles M.4 Merlin A37-2
1 Comm. Unit, 
Wackett  Gannet A14-6/Z
Survey Flight
Laverton, c.1941,
via Mike Mirkovic. Wackett Gannet A14-6

A14-7

TA.53

See entry for A14-1 for career details up to December 1937.

 

Pre-RAAF Service.

 

Dec37 to Apr 38    The aircraft was rebuilt by CAC at Fishermans Bend during this period including the replacement of the Gipsy VI engines with Menasco Buccaneer B6S3 engines and Hamilton Standard propellers. The resultant aircraft was virtually a new build.

Nov 39       Aircraft was dismantled and stored at Fishermans Bend.

Jun 40       Impressment Requisition issued by the Australian Government for use by the RAAF. Aircraft reassembled and made airworthy by CAC at Fishermans Bend.

 

RAAF Service

 

25Jun40    Received by No 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) at RAAF Base Laverton and bought on charge as A14-7.

Note: This aircraft has been reported as the only RAAF Gannet fitted with Menasco Buccaneer engines. However, no RAAF documentation can be found to support the assertion. The Aircraft History Card states that Gypsy Six engines were fitted when it was impressed.

 

01Jul40      Received by Survey Flight (SF) at RAAF Station Canberra.

18Nov40     Forced landing, no damage.  Port supercharger seized necessitating a complete engine overhaul. Crew of FLTLT LW Law; CPL NA Boddington; and, AC1 RC Caswell were uninjured.

01Jan41     Engines 6045 & 6454 installed.

16Jul41      Departed for Darwin to carry out aerial survey task.

18Jul41      Force landing at Aldinga, SA after an undercarriage fairing broke away in flight and damaged the auxiliary tail fin. Repaired then continued flight to Darwin via Alice Springs.

Aug41         Surveyed potential airfield sites areas around Darwin.

25Aug41     Departed Darwin for Pearce, WA.

31Aug41     Received by Station HQ at RAAF Station Pearce, WA.

26Nov41     Joined the SAR effort to locate HMAS Sydney, flying out of Carnarvon WA for two days. Located two lifeboats from the German raider Kormoran (HSK-8) with 80 survivors.

28Nov41     SAR flight to find missing Anson W2114.  Located the Anson on a mud flat south of Onslow, WA and landed to rescue crew but could not take off again due to the muddy ground. Waited for mud flats to dry out and successfully flown out one week later on 4Dec41 by FLGOFF Richard Winter.  Also, FLGOFF Winter flew the Anson out the next day.

Dec 42       Conducted survey work around Perth. Crew FLGOFF Winter and photographer LAC Munro.

Jan 42       Conducted survey work coastal areas near Busselton and Margaret River WA.

27Jan42    Departed for three day flight to Canberra via Kalgoolie-Forrest-Ceduna-Adelaide-Broken Hill-Canberra.

02Feb42    Received by Survey Flight at Canberra.

08Mar42    Allocated to No 2 Air Ambulance Unit (2AAU) at RAAF Canberra.

23Mar42    Received by 2AAU.

Apr-May42 Modified to air ambulance standard. Fitment of two moveable stretchers, medicine lockers and a collapsible seat. The modified aircraft could carry five people: pilot, W/T operator, two stretcher patients and either a sitting patient or medical orderly/nurse.

03Oct42    Allocated to de Havilland Aircraft at Mascot Airport, Sydney for double engine change.

23Oct42    Received by de Havilland.

10Nov42     Allocated to 2AAU after post servicing checks at No 2 Aircraft Depot (2AD) at RAAF Base Richmond, NSW.

16Nov42     Received by 2AD.

23Nov42    Received by 2AAU.

12Feb43     Moved with 2AUU from Canberra to the new Base at Kingaroy, QLD.

13Apr43     Allocated to Marshall Airways at Mascot airport Sydney for overhaul.

13Apr43     Received by Marshal Airways.

28Sep43    Allocated to 2AAU.

29Sep43    Received by 2AD for post servicing checks.

03Oct43    Received by 2AAU.

10Oct43     Allocated to No 3 Aircraft Depot (3AD) at RAAF Base Amberley for major repairs.

09Nov43    Received by 2AAU.

11Jan44     Departed Kingaroy enroute to Corunna Downs WA via Bourke-Broken Hill-Ceduna-Forrest-Kalgoolie-Maylands.

12Jan44     Arrive at Maylands airfield, Perth.

17Jan44     Depart Maylands enroute to form the new 2AAU Detachment at Corunna Downs, flight via Geraldton and Carnarvon.

Jan44        Flew 16 missions; accumulated 44 flight hours; carried 3 patients and uplifted 1023 gallons of fuel.

Feb44        Flew 30 missions; accumulated 53 flight hours; carried 6 patients and uplifted 913 gallons of fuel.

Mar44        Flew 18 missions; accumulated 35 flight hours; carried 2 patients; uplifted 922 gal of fuel and 476lbs of medical supplies.

Apr44        Flew 2 missions; accumulated 4 flight hours; carried 3 patients.

05Apr44    Allocated to MacRobertson Miller Airways, Maylands airport Perth for 180 hourly inspection.

08May44    Received by 2AAU Detachment Corunna Downs.

Jun44        Flew 14 missions; accumulated 24 flight hours; carried 3 patients and uplifted 672 gallons of fuel.

Jul44         Flew 39 missions; accumulated 74 flight hours; carried 15 patients and uplifted 1612 gallons of fuel.

02Oct44    Aircraft inspected by the WOE of Western Area (WOFF Pearson) who declared the aircraft could be flown to Pearce after some flight safety repairs were carried out.  Ferry crew of FLTLT Minchin pilot; WOFF Pearson flight engineer; and, CPL Davey fitter 2e prepared the aircraft for the ferry flight to Pearce.

05Oct44    Departed Corunna Downs enroute for Carnarvon via Onslow.

06Oct44    Departed Carnarvon enroute to Pearce via Geraldton.

27Nov44    Allocated to No 17 Repair & Salvage Unit at RAAF Station Cunderdin, WA to be held pending further direction.

12Dec44     Received by 17RSU.

21Feb46     Approved for conversion.

22Feb46    Allocated to No 14 Aircraft Repair Depot (14ARD) at RAAF Station Pearce.

05Mar46    Received by 14ARD and converted to components.

 

Highlight for Album: Wackett Gannet A14-7

 
     
 

Wackett Gannet A14-? 
Seagull V A2-9 
Possibly at Canberra

 
     

The Authors of this page are Paul McGuiness, Darren Crick and Brendan Cowan.

Sources: RAAF Aircraft Status Cards, RAAF Accident Reports, Geoff Goodall's website, National Library of Australia, National Archives of Australia.

 

Ver 1.2 Updated 13 July 2015

     

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