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

RAAF Bristol 130 Bombay Mk.I
1 Air Ambulance Unit, RAAF

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  Formed on 15 February 1941 at Laverton, No 1 Air Ambulance Unit (1 AAU), was one of the few non EATS Article XV RAAF units to operate under RAF control and the Bristol Bombay is one of the lesser known types operated by the RAAF. 1 AAU operated the Bombay from February 1943 to February 1944 prior to the unit's withdrawral from theatre.

1 AAU left Australia for the Middle East in April 1941 and began flying from Gaza in August 1941. With its eclectic mix of DH.86, Bristol Bombay, Lockheed Lodestar and Grumman Goose aircraft, the unit played a vital role in supporting the AIF and other allied forces with Air Ambulance services in the North African, Middle East and Mediterranean areas of operation.

The Unit supported Commonwealth units during the North African Campaign and Tunisia campaign from December 1941 until the end of the Tunisia campaign in May 1943. No. 1 Air Ambulance Unit was expanded and re-equipped with Bristol Bombay aircraft in February 1943. From July 1943 the Unit supported the Allied invasion of Sicily and deployed to Italy in September 1943 to participate in the Italian Campaign.

The Bombays themselves were mostly veterans of service with 216 Sqn, RAF who had re-equipped with Wellingtons. Most of the aircraft received by 1 AAU came via the BOAC Aircraft Repair Unit (BARU) based at Heliopolis, Egypt who also handled the major servicing for the aircraft in theatre.

Due to the availability of larger and faster aircraft operated by the RAF & USAAF, as well as the Bombays mechanical problems, 1 AAU was withdrawn from service and flew its last evacuation mission in November 1943.

From December 1943 to Januaray 1944, 1 Air Ambulance Unit's Bombays were used to carry medical supplies.

With orders to return to Australia received on 31/01/44, the four remaining Bombays (L5820, L5827, L5831 & L5842) were ordered to be returned to Blida near Algiers.

This order proved difficult to complete in the harsh winter weather as L5820 damaged beyond repair by high winds on 11/2/44 at Bari. L5827, L5831 & L5842 proceeded to Fochville but were delayed 18 days by sodden runways before being delayed again by weather at El Aouina, Tunisia where the aircraft were left by the unit.

1 AAU embarked for Australia in late February 1944 and was disbanded there on 27 June 1944.

 
     
 
Aircraft Serial Type CN Aircraft History
L5810 Mk.I SH3 One of only 5 Bombays factory fitted with dual controls,
216 Sqn, RAF,
07/04/1943 Aircraft ready for collection by 1 AAU from BARU, Heliopolis,
11/04/1943 In service 1 AAU
29/05/1943 Returned to RAF BARU Heliopolis
L5811 Mk.I SH4 One of only 5 Bombays factory fitted with dual controls
17/08/1943 HQME advised that this aircraft was ready for collection by 1 AAU from BARU, Heliopolis,
No other mention of L5811 found in 1 AAU records, unclear if aircraft was actually received by 1 AAU
This airframe has also been noted by Air Britain as Written Off (DBR) 23/01/42 as lost en Route Near Msus, Libya.
Suspect that the signal was in error there and perhaps should have referred to a different airframe (possibly L5839, L5831 or even L5851).
L5820 Mk.I SH13 216 Sqn, RAF,
??/??/1943 Received 1 AAU with Pegasus Engines A.30940/P.173470 & A.31009/P.173539 ex BARU Heliopolis,
18/04/1943 Aircraft grounded, new engine requested,
30/06/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30940/P.173470 & A.31009/P.173539
01/07/1943 RAH, WD advised that L5820 with Pegasus XXII A.30940/P.173470 & A.31009/P.173539 had been allotted to 1 AAU but no confirmation of receipt had been received,
21/07/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30940/P.173470 & A.31009/P.173539
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30940/P.173470 & A.31009/P.173539
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU,
31/01/1944 Ordered to be returned to the RAF at Blida near Algiers,
11/02/1944 Damaged beyond repair by high winds at Bari, Italy.
L5825 Mk.I SH18 One of only 5 Bombays factory fitted with dual controls
216 Sqn, RAF,
20/07/1943 Received 1 AAU ex BARU Heliopolis, with Pegasus XXII engines A.125451 & A.1173498,
06/08/1943 Permission granted to 1 AAU by HQME to return L5825 to BARU for overhaul & repairs,
20/08/1943 Returned to RAF B.A.R.U Heliopolis,
Passed to Iraq CF and Persia CF,
31/08/1944 Struck off charge.
L5827 Mk.I SH20 216 Sqn, RAF,
10/02/1943 To be allotted to 1 AAU ex 216 Sqn RAF, Castel Benito
12/02/1943 Allotted to 1 AAU ex 216 Sqn RAF, with Pegasus XXII engines A.143121 & A.125445,
13/02/1943 Arrived Castel Benito, First Bombay taken on Charge by 1 AAU and used initially for pilot training,
25/02/1943 Rec'd 1 AAU ex 216 Sqn, RAF,
04/03/1943 First Medical evacuation flight,
31/07/1943 Landed by F/O Williams and hit by Spitfire Vb ER604 while parked and damaged, San Francesco, Lentini, Sicily,
??/11/1943 Flown back to Fochville after repairs by F/O Aitkenhead,
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30911/P.152891 & A.17640/P.122814,
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU
31/01/1944 Ordered to be returned to the RAF at Blida near Algiers,
20/04/1944 Arrived El Aouina, Tunisia where aircraft was left along with L5831 & L5842.
31/08/1944 Struck off charge.
L5829 Mk.I SH22 216 Sqn, RAF,
??/??/1943 1 AAU,
30/06/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30837/P.143055 & A.25048/P.125431
20/07/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30837/P.143055 & A.25048/P.125431
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30837/P.143055 & A.25048/P.125431
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU
??/04/1944 Struck off charge.

Bombay L5829.
1 A.A.U., 
Italy, c.1943,  
via Mike Mirkovic. Bombays L5844 
& L5829. 
1 A.A.U., 
Italy, c.1943, 
via Mike Mirkovic.

L5831 Mk.I SH24 216 Sqn, RAF,
Received 1 AAU ex BARU, Heliopolis with Pegasus XXII engines P.173566/A.31036 & P{.188858/A.17684,
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.30940/P.17347 & /P.125905,
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU,
31/01/1944 Ordered to be returned to the RAF at Blida near Algiers,
20/04/1944 Arrived El Aouina, Tunisia where aircraft was left along with L5827 & L5842,
31/08/1944 Struck off charge.
L5838 Mk.I SH31 216 Sqn, RAF,
CF Khartoum,
10/06/1943 On charge 1 AAU,
20/07/1943 Received 1 AAU ex BARU Heliopolis, with Pegasus XXII engines A.173495 & A.143121,
27/07/1943 Overshot landing and undercarriage collapsed Phillipville, Algeria, Pilot SGT Hardy swerved to avoid children running on runway.

Bombay Mark I, L5838, on a test flight from Aldergrove, County Antrim, before joining No. 216 Squadron, RAF and later 1 Air Ambulance Unit, RAAF in the Middle East.

L5839 Mk.I SH32 216 Sqn, RAF,
??/??/1943 1 AAU,
23/09/1943 Repairs at San Francesco (F/L Broome),
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.17591/P.116093 & A.35036/P.125419
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU
??/02/1944 For disposal.
L5842 Mk.I SH35 216 Sqn, RAF,
??/??/1943 1 AAU,
??/??/1943 Grounded during delivery at Castel Benito,
14/04/1943 F/LT Broome & F/O Carson Reggio Calabria to Vibo Valentia and return,
03/09/1943 Received 1 AAU ex BARU, Heliopolis with Pegasus XXII engines P.125905 & P.173575,
30/11/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.31036/P.173566 & A.17684/P.122858,
31/12/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU,
31/01/1944 Ordered to be returned to the RAF at Blida near Algiers,
20/04/1944 Arrived El Aouina, Tunisia where aircraft was left along with L5827 & L5831.
31/08/1944 Struck off charge.
L5844 Mk.I SH37 216 Sqn, RAF,
??/??/1943 1 AAU,
18/04/1943 Aircraft grounded, new engine requested,
29/04/1943 Advised by BARU the aircraft will be ready for 1 AAU to collect on 02/05/1943,
05/05/1943 On Charge 1 AAU,
30/06/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.31030/P.173560 & A.30971/P.173501,
??/07/1943 Engine 30940/173501 replaced by engine 116121. Engine 30940/173501 to be delivered to 164 MU, RAF,
20/07/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines A.31030/P.173560 & A.30971/P.116121,
31/07/1943 Tyre blown out, swung to port, right u/c collapsed. Written off - damaged beyond repair. Pilot F/O MacWilliam.

Bombays L5844 
& L5829. 
1 A.A.U., 
Italy, c.1943, 
via Mike Mirkovic.

L5845 Mk.I SH38 216 Sqn, RAF Code Letter D,
CF Khartoum,
29/06/1943 On Charge 1 AAU,
30/06/1943 Still on Charge 1 AAU fitted with Pegasus XXII engines P.125431 & P.143055,
??/??/1943 Hit by Allied (American) AA Fire during move to Fochville (subsequently written off following this incident),
21/07/1943 1 AAU requested permission from HQME to return aircraft to BARU for overhaul and repair,
30/07/1943 Returned to RAF B.A.R.U Heliopolis,
??/04/1944 Struck off charge.

Bombay L5845 serving as D of 206 Sqn before 1 AAU service"Close examination of the original print on the example seen below (taken "somewhere in the Western desert", circa 1941) reveals it to be L5845. This aircraft later served with the No. 1 Australian Ambulance Unit and marked with large red crosses"

Ed Coates Collection

L5851 Mk.I SH43 2/08/1943 1 AAU advised by HQME that L5851 ready for immediate collection,
No other mention of L5851 found in 1 AAU records, unclear if aircraft was actually received by 1 AAU or whether this serial is incorrect in the advice from HQME (Possibly L5831 or L5839).
 
     

Page Author: Brendan Cowan.

Source: National Archives, British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979 - Bruce Robertson, Australian War Memorial, http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=166526 , http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=1168810 , http://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/scripts/Imagine.asp?B=1359901 , Air Britain, Succour From The Sky – Leonard Barton, RAAF Air Ambulance and Medical Air Evacuation Units – John Lever , Royal Air Force Aircraft: L-1000 to L-9999 (An Air-Britain publication) - James J. Halley ,

Emails: Message Board Discussion , Michael Louey, Joe Barr, Gordon Birkett,

Updated 29 November 2013

 

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