Australian & New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials & History

RAAF De Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk

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DHC-1 Chipmunk VH-RNG Eddie Coates Collection via Brendan Cowan.jpg 

DHC-1 Chipmunk Image Gallery


The Chipmunk was designed and built by the de Havilland Aircraft Company of Canada Ltd in 1946, was selected to replace the Tiger Moth as the standard primary trainer in all R.A.F Volunteer Reserve Flying Schools and was produced in quantity in Great Britain.

Two Chipmunks were evaluated by the RAAF as possible Tiger Moth replacements, but ultimately, the type was not selected for RAAF service.

Several of the Australian Army’s early pilots gained experience in the aircraft . However, the Chipmunk has a special place in the history of Australian Army Aviation for quite a different reason. A number of these machines were declared surplus by the R.A.F and sold (new) to civil flying schools and Aero Clubs. The Royal Victorian Aero Club bought two and these were available to early Army pilots for subsidised "continuation" flying while the Army awaited agreement by the R.A.A.F. for it to operate its own aircraft. During this time (1950’s) Major Ken Oram, then at AHQ, used some of this flying to give personal experience of the military use of light aircraft to (then) COL A.L. MacDonald, the Director of Military Operations and Plans. This was done "after office hours" and in Chipmunks. COL MacDonald quickly became convinced of the value of "army aviation" and at Oram’s suggestion, arranged for the raising of 1 Army Aviation Company, based at Bankstown Airfield, as a home for Army pilots and to train new pilots, using chartered civil aircraft.

COL MacDonald became General Sir A. L. MacDonald KBE, CB, Chief of Defence Force Staff 1977-79 but never lost his interest in Army Aviation. 

Registration Type C/N Aircraft History
VH-AKW DHC-1 Mk 21 C1/0153

VH-AKW was first registered to De Havilland Australia on 14 December 1951, and was the prototype Mk.21.
This made it the first UK purpose-built civilian machine, and not an ex RAF trainer
We believe that this was the aircraft used by the RAAF on a second trial of the Chipmunk. Why they trailed it again is unknown.
The status card for VH-BFT has a comment "Delivered to Laverton VIC 08/07/52 and returned to Dehavilland" as VH-BFT was with the RNAC by then and
VH-AKW was with deHavilland then this could be the aircraft the RAAF had delivered in 1952.
VH-AKW was with deHavilland between 14/12/51 and 19/11/53.
16/02/2005 Ownership transferred to David MacGibbon, Indooroopilly, QLD.


VH-BFT DHC-1A-1 22

Registered to Dehavilland Aircraft PTY LTD 10/12/47 to 09/12/48.
Loaned to the RAAF 15/01/48 for trials.
To CFS 15/01/48.
To ARDU for completion of tests 23/01/48.
Returned to register 21/04/49.
Sold to Newcastle Aeroclub 18/10/49, who changed their name in 1953 to Royal Newcastle Aero Club.
It became VH-RNG 30/06/55 to 30/03/59.
It then became VH-BBF from 30/03/59 to 10/59.
Then became VH-MCC from 10/59 to 09/09/94.

Withdrawn from use in 1994, it had a complete rebuild at Tocumwal, NSW,
15/12/2010 First post-restoration flight.  
Curently owned by Mark Fitzgerald, Willoughby, NSW.





The Author of this page is Darren Crick updated by Brendan Cowan

Source:, Aircraft Status Card, National Archives, CASA Aircraft Records,Australian Aviation Magazine, ,

Emails: Adam Clerget, James Hollingworth, Dean Norman, Mathew Hawkins, Gordon Birkett, Jurgen van Toor, Kevin Kerle, Robert Brosing, Clive Lynch, Roger Johnson, Alan Allen, Rod Brown, Rene Sikkerle, Simon.

Updated 10 October 2013


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