ADF Serials Newsletter

For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials

ã 2004

March 2004

In this Issue:



Editor’s blurb

Welcome to the March edition of our growing email newsletter. For all of you who do not know, Jan is taking a break from the newsletter for a while, and I’ll be doing my best to keep up to her fine standard, but you’ll notice this month I’m a little late in sending out the newsletter. I’ll attempt to keep to the usual mid month deadline.

Recently we received permission to use on the website RAAF official images, there are some conditions to which the team has been made aware. In the near future you will find more and more RAAF official images taking their place on aircraft pages. Grahame Higgs and Martin Edwards will be overseeing the introduction of Official Images.

Dave Masterson has certainly been busy the past month, as have a lot of the team, Dave has taken on several new pages and now also the moderator of the ADF-Navy Email group.

I cant let this opportunity go by without mentioning that the adf-serials website has had an average of 700 visitors per day for the past two months. This is due to the work put in by team members like Grahame, Martin and Dave. The team admin group do so much behind the scene work, for which they will always get my thanks!

We would like to increase the number of contributors for this newsletter, if you’d like to take part please let me know.

Darren Crick


Those orange bands on the Canberra’s

Bob Alford has emailed us and offers the following information…

In your April 2003 newsletter there was some question as to the existence of orange bands on the fuselages of the RAAF Canberra’s. These bands were applied in I think mid-1969 to the Canberra target tugs of 1(B) OCU at Amberley. I was an Armourer with No. 75 Sqn at Butterworth from 1969 and recall the camouflages and natural metal Canberra’s so marked. I have slides of a number of these aircraft. The bands disappeared after 2 Sqn came home from Vietnam and took over the recce/target tug roles.


Comments/Questions from recent visitors

A question from Tim Dee.

I don't know if this is of any interest but I recently found the radio direction finder receiver from A52 613 in a pile of junk at a friends house. I am looking for info on the unit as the manufacturers tag has been souveneired I can't tell what model no or brand it is.


A question from Chris Jamesson.

those Vampires that RAAF Wagga had out the back a few years
ago for Armament training?? Is there anything worth salvageing for a
museum?? We are looking for an Instrument panel, and Ejection seat. Do you
know anyone I could contact in Wagga, with regards to these aircraft or any
others? We are still trying to track down a Macchi (fingers crossed).

If you can help any of these guys please contact us and we will put you in contact with them.

Thanks to Peter Hastings (Newcastle NSW) and Douglas Summons (Melbourne, VIC) took the time to fill out our visitors book.

Got an idea or some feedback for us?

Then go to our Feedback page and fill out the form and send us your thoughts!


ADF-NEI Email Research Group

Following on from Gordon Clarke’s ADF-OZ Email group, this month we take a look at Jos Heymans ADF-NEI email group. The following is some information put together by Jos.

  1. This group concerns itself with former Netherlands East Indies aircraft
    operated by the ADF, including the Allied Directorate of Air Transport
    (ADAT). These include aircraft from the Militaire Luchtvaart KNIL (ML-KNIL),Marine Luchtvaart Dienst (MLD) as well as civilian aircraft.
  2. Of necessity it will include the operations of the aircraft listed in
    para 1 prior to the transfer of the NEI forces to Australia as well as,
    where appropriate, their operation after the NEI re-established themselves
    in the East Indies.
  3. We will take any comments, summaries, questions, histories, books, kit
    information and operations relevant to the aircraft listed in para 1.
  4. We will take any comparison details people wish to submit regarding the
    aircraft listed in para 1 and contemporary aircraft either Allied or
  5. We will take what-if or what-might-have-been speculations with regard to
    any of the aircraft listed in para 1.
  6. Whilst we would prefer English information, I am are capable to handle
    information in Dutch and Indonesian.
  7. The subject line of e-mails should commence with NEI followed by the type of aircraft concerned, and, where appropriate, the identification individual aircraft: eg NEI - Douglas DC-5, PK-ADD.

If you would like to join one of our email research groups, please visit the following link;

Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara VC

On 20 March 1917, Frank Hubert McNamara then serving as a Lieutenant with No 1 Sqn, Australian Flying Corps was awarded the Victoria Cross for rescuing a fellow pilot from behind enemy lines in Palestine (now Israel). Members of No 1 Sqn had been tasked with an aerial bombing attack on an enemy construction train on the main railway line between Junction Station and Te el Sheria. During the attack, Captain D W Rutherford's plane had been hit by ground fire and he was forced to land behind enemy lines. McNamara, who had been wounded in the thigh during the raid, spotted enemy cavalry approaching the downed pilot and descended to pick him up.

Rutherford climbed onto McNamara's plane and while McNamara was attempting to get airborne, the aircraft turned over. The men then set fire to the wreck and ran towards Rutherford's downed aircraft. Despite being weak from loss of blood, McNamara, with passenger Rutherford, flew the aircraft 115 kilometres back to his aerodrome.

McNamara, born in Rushworth, Vic in 1894 completed his schooling at Rushworth and Shepparton before attending teacher's training college and the University of Melbourne in 1913-14. After graduation he taught at a number of schools including Shepparton, Princes Hill, Red Bluff, Mordialloc South and North Kooweerup schools.

In 1911 he joined the Senior Cadets and transferred to the Brighton Rifles (46th Infantry Battalion) the following year. In December 1914, he attended the fourth course at the Officers Training School, Broadmeadow and in August 1915, was selected to attend a flying course at Point Cook Flying School, graduating as a pilot in October 1915. In January 1916, McNamara was posted to No 1 Sqn, AFC as adjutant. After a period of advanced training with No 42 Sqn RFC, McNamara rejoined No 1 Sqn and flew his first operational sortie in December 1916. In March 1917, he was awarded the VC for most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty while rescuing his fellow pilot.

Promotion to Captain and Flight Commander followed in April 1917 and in September 1917, McNamara was invalided to Australia where his appointment was terminated on 31 January 1918. By September 1918, McNamara reappointed to the AFC retaining rank and seniority, became an aviation instructor with the permanent forces. His Victoria Cross was presented by Edward, Prince of Wales on 27 May 1920 at Government House, Melbourne.

McNamara transferred to the RAAF in March 1921, with the rank of Flight Lieutenant and served as a staff officer at RAAF Headquarters, Melbourne. In 1924 he was promoted to Squadron Leader and appointed Officer Commanding, 1 Flying Training School (1FTS) at Point Cook. From 1925-1927, McNamara went to Britain on exchange duty with the RAF, and on his return to Australia, was appointed

second in command of 1FTS and was appointed CO in October 1930. Promotion to Wing Commander followed the following year.

In February 1933, McNamara was posted to 1 Aircraft Depot (1AD) and RAAF Laverton as CO. In 1936 McNamara was promoted to Group Captain and attending the Imperial Defence College in 1937 before serving as air liaison at the Air Ministry London.

McNamara was promoted to Air Commodore on the outbreak of hostilities in 1939. Promotion to Air Vice Marshal followed in 1942, when he was appointed Air Officer Commanding RAA F Headquarters, London.. From late 1942 until the cessation of hostilities in 1945, McNamara was on loan to the RAAF as Air Officer Commanding British Forces, Aden. On his return to London, he took up the position as RAAF representative at the Ministry of Defence and in July 1946, was appointed Director of Education , HQ British Occupation Administration, Westphalia, Germany. He retired from the RAAF in 1947.In 1924, McNamara married Helene Marcelle Blunschli and there was a son and daughter from this union. In 1928, McNamara returned to study part time at Melbourne University and completed a Bachelor of Arts in 1933. In 1938 he was created a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, followed by a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1945. After retiring from the RAAF, McNamara remained in Britain and resided at Gerrards Cross Buckinghamshire. He served as a member of the National Coal Board from 1947 – 1959. McNamara died on 2 November 1961 survived by this wife and children.


Air Vice Marshal Francis 'Frank' Hubert McNamara - Australian War Memorial website:

Wigmore, L (1986). They dared mightily. Canberra: Australian War Memorial.



Whale World Aircraft available for inspection

Written material and hundreds of photographs of the Kingfisher, PBY, and Vultee Vengeance are now available via the Internet at the Whale World site, Click near the bottom of the home page and you will be directed to the written material and then to the collection of photographs. Put your cursor on the photos, and you will see the associated notes. Click on the photo and you will get an enlargement. There are nearly 500 photos of the aircraft and associated parts groups according to the aircraft type. This method of information disbursement was judged to be much more efficient than sending CDs around the world. You are invited to have a look. The tender process is being directed by Sciona Browne. Here email address is also included on the web site. If, after reviewing the material and photos, you have further questions about the aircraft, please contact me. If you have questions about the tender process, please contact Sciona.

Fred Moreno



P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia Part VII

The RAAF: The First P-40E/E-1s

In the early 1940s it was an acknowledged fact that the air defence of Australia depended on the theory of forward defence at Singapore/Malaya. Our contribution was the manning of two fighter squadrons, Nos. 21 and 453, equipped with Brewster Buffalo aircraft. New Zealand’s and Britain’s contributions were 488 Sqn for the former, and 243 Sqn for the latter, in Malaya, and with a further RAF Buffalo squadron, No 67, in Burma. The events of early 1942 resulted in most of these forces, excluding the success of No67Sqn in Burma, to be whittled down to nothing by early March 1942.

Constantly, from late January 1942, Australian Government requests to obtain an earlier allotment of "Tomahawks" from British lend-lease orders had been delayed due to losses and setbacks in North Africa and more recently in the Asian theatre. We were on the lowest priority level. We were duly worried at the prospect of war on our shores, particularly due to the defence importance of Darwin and the northern areas of Australia.

In our quest to obtain P-40Es, requests were made to both the United States and the United Kingdom to have allocations shipped to Australia. In addition to 143 P-40E transfers during February/March/April 1942 from British stocks for Australian and New Zealand service, the United Kingdom also approached the USAAF to transfer another 199 P-40Es from their production allocation. The number earmarked for Australian service was to be 306 airframes, with the balance of 36 airframes for service with the RNZAF.

The effects of events in Java caused this plan to be modified by the USAAF as they were in dire need to equip the 49th Pursuit Group with all available P-40E/E-1s then in Australia. Only when this requirement was completed were any released to equip three squadrons of fighters for the RAAF. These squadrons were to be Nos. 75, 76 and 77. This is the missing story.

Those first "25 RAAF Kittyhawks" and the Hunt for USAAF/A29 Serial tie-ups

Towards the end of February 1942, after the establishment of 5 provisional and 3 standard pursuit squadrons for the USAAF (7th, 8th, and 9th), it became possible to suggest that a supply of P-40Es would shortly become available for the fighter-less RAAF. (As a side note, the first Kittyhawks for an Australian squadron were delivered on December 17 1941 to 3 (F) Squadron in the Middle East)

About 22 February 1942 the RAAF was told that supply requisitions were, in USAFIA (United States Army Forces in Australia) parlance, being "cut" for the issue of 50 P-40Es on the 28th February 1942. This would lead to the formation of the first squadron, No 75 (F) Squadron at Townsville on March 4 1942.

Not surprisingly, some of the first P-40E/E-1’s for RAAF were ex- 49th Pursuit Group P-40Es that have had squadron service with 7th, 8th and 9th Pursuit Squadrons. Record keeping was the priority at the time, but the following is known of the first 25 Kittyhawks to be received by the RAAF:


30 Pilots of 75 Sqn RAAF during the 3/42-4/42 Period

Logbook entries, David Wilson’s The Decisive Factor and A50 Sheet History of 75Sqn have provided a list of at least 30 pilots involved in the establishment of 75 (F) Sqn at Townsville.

*Underlined are the "Amberley Five" per 06/03/42

For some days, maybe even over a week in early March 1942, most of the "25" flew around still in their respective USAAF Box numbers/ET Serial markings and paint schemes (both USAAF OD and RAF B/G). Whether they were still in USAAF insignia is still being researched, thus for this article, we will assume that RAAF roundel markings were applied on acceptance.

The actual marking of A29 numbers wasn’t performed till about March 14 1942 for the surviving 21 P-40Es in Townsville. Gordon Clark has been in contact with a past member of 75 (F) Squadron ground staff who confirmed this.

This is also confirmed by the fact that on March 13 the next P-40E loss was A29-4, piloted by Sgt D.B.Davies (Service #406924) who crashed-landed this aircraft and extensively damaged it. He was transferred to 24 Sqn on March 15 and (75Sqn A50 Sheets) replaced by Geoff Atherton from 24 Sqn. These first four losses (including the three NSW ferry flight crashes) were post-serialled A29-1, 2, 3 and 4 respectively. Thus A29-4 was the last post-serialled crash.

There was one further pre-serialled crash during this period. That was P-40E 41-5518, piloted by F/O Norman Grant of 1 Aircraft Depot, which had a landing accident on March 20 1942 at Laverton, prior to being serialled A29-33 after repair.

From some of the less recorded USAAF wrecks/accidents of the February and March 1942 period, a few repaired P-40Es that made up some of the first RAAF "25" had been previously damaged in USAAF service.


USAFIA Order #S42-1832 (A confirmation order for some of the initial 25 P-40E batch)

Their A29 serials are not yet known.

Cracking the numbers game

Of the first 25 RAAF P-40s, only one Record Card has a USAAF previous identity recorded. This is A29-2 which shows as 41/344. Unfortunately this does not correspond with any known P-40E serial.

Buz Bushby, a highly respected Australian P-40 researcher, has been able to explain this number and to derive the actual AAF serial number.

Buz explained that each batch of P-40Es had its Curtiss Wright Line Number (often quoted as c/n or msn) marked in at least three locations on the airframe, one of which was on a fuselage longeron. Using information from P-40 crash sites in Australia and PNG as well as some others worldwide, it has been possible to reconstruct the correlation between the Line Number and the AAF serial for this production block. From this information it can be concluded that A29-2 was AAF serial 41-5324 which was off the USS Hammondsport (APV-2) which arrived at Brisbane on February 4 with 111 P-40Es and which was accepted into USAFIA service on February 26 1942.

This remarkable insight has also solved the riddle of some of the later RAAF P-40Es such as A29-76 being identified as 41-5643. But subsequent comment by Buz, who in having talked with one of the actual fitters states that only the USAAF data plate was used to identify P-40Es, hence this may still be 40-663, a

Another number identifier has been the Tail Box Number. I have been doing exhaustive research on all of the early P-40E deliveries and service with the provisional squadrons jointly with several researchers, including Bill Bartsch, for Bill’s next upcoming 1942 book on the USAAF in Java and Australia. In doing so, we have been researching the Box/Buzz numbers of these deliveries.



41-5324 (#245) on 7/03/42, before its crash. It was post-serialled as A29-2 following its re-build

This number was applied to the tail of each aircraft and their shipping crates when they were readied and crated for shipment from the United States. They would be either be painted in black or white and therefore should not be confused with post March/April 1942 individual USAAF squadron Buzz numbers of the 49th Pursuit Group (Example: #1-9 HQ Flight, #10-38 7th PS, #40-68 8th PS and #70-99 9th PS).

I have tracked one P-40E with a Box Number of #176 flown on February 25 1942 by P/O John Brereton with 3 SFTS at Amberley, per his logbook. Records and notes show that this aircraft was one of 7 P-40Es issued from Amberley on March 6 1942.

Further to this, the logbook record of Sqn Ldr John F. Jackson has this aircraft being flown by himself on March 11 1942 at Townsville. In fact, he was to fly this aircraft for some time up to April 4 1942. After going through and identifying a fair percentage of the SS Polk Box/Serial numbers, we managed a serial tie up for this aircraft. I have cross-referenced this particular P-40E, #176, as being 41-5363.

This aircraft was one of the Amberley seven P-40E/E-1s of the "first 25". At this time most of the pilots of 75 Sqn flew their own personal aircraft, and we are becoming confident that this aircraft is A29-7.

41-5363 (#176) as flown on 07/03/42. Soon to be marked A29-7"A"

One of the 10 P-40E/E-1s from Bankstown was P-40E-1-CU 41-24814. Flt Lt Les Jackson flew this aircraft from Bankstown, on March 7 1942. It was to become the personal aircraft of Flt Lt Les Jackson from March 8 1942. This particular aircraft, identified jointly by both Buz Bushby and Michael Claring-Bould, was marked on March 14 1942 as A29-14.

Following delivery at Townsville, all 75 Sqn P-40E/E-1s were brought up to similar surface finish. All newly assembled P-40E-1s had their yellow roundel surrounds and fin flashes overpainted if they were delivered as such. Pre-used USAAF P-40E-1s had their Box Number and British Purchasing Commission Serial removed, as well as any USAAF markings. Pre-used USAAF P-40Es had their surface finish of olive drab overpainted with dark earth in the same pattern as the P-40E-1s. All roundels were of standard RAAF Blue/White/Red pattern and size on fuselage and underwing locations, with standard Red/Blue on the wing surface. There were no fin flashes. Single-letter individual squadron codes were allocated.

41-24814 was ET138 prior to being marked as A29-14 on 14/03/42.


The second Batch of 25

The supply of the second batch of 25 P-40E/E-1s also proceeded at no lesser pace than the first batch of 25, with orders being processed immediately. These were used to equip the second squadron forming at Archerfield, No. 76.


USAFIA Order # S42-1757 was issued for several P-40E Warhawks to be released to the RAAF on February 28 1942. These however did not seem to have any USAAF History.

Two P-40E examples of this order received on March 18 1942, were 41-5549 (Eng#41-36054) and 41-5597(Eng#41-35980), becoming A29-43 and A29-44, with 75 and 76 Squadrons, respectively.

Strangely, another P-40E under this order, 41-5449, does not appear to have been accepted.

It was one of 19 unloaded from the SS Mariposa in Melbourne in early February 1942, assembled at Laverton and accepted by the USAAF in mid February 1942. This appears as the first recorded example of a returned RAAF P-40E to the USAAF.

An entry date on its USAAF Individual Aircraft Record Card states it being struck off on March 13 1942. Could this P-40E possibly be interpreted as being a candidate for the missing A29-73?

In any event, it did continue service with the 7th Pursuit Squadron (post May 1942, which ties in with its repair at Charters Towers, then back to the 7th Fighter Sqn) up to its demise. This happened on June 13 1942 when it crash-landed 4 miles from Daly Waters with 2nd Lt Harold Martin at the controls.

USAFIA Order # S42-1763 was issued February 28 1942 for more P-40E Warhawks without any USAAF History.

A P-40E example of this order is 41-5550, assembled February 26 1942 and flown to 1AD Laverton by a ferry pilot from Amberley where it became A29-69 on March 23 1942.

USAFIA Order #S42-1753 for P-40E Warhawks, again on the 28/02/42, was for further P-40 Warhawks.

One of those was 41-5555, one of 19 unloaded from the SS Mariposa in Melbourne in early February 1942, assembled at Laverton and accepted by the USAAF mid February 42. Sometime during the later part of February it had an unrecorded accident which ended its days with the USAAF. It was under repair by the RAAF at Laverton following this and was repaired and accepted on March 27 1942 by the RAAF as A29-75.

Russian Lend Lease P-40E’s in Australia

Quite a few Russian Lend Lease P-40E’s were diverted to Australia at this time. All USAAF Markings, including the USAAF datablock on the left /port side cockpit area were removed before crating to Russia and USAAF serial identification has again been made through the recorded Line Number.

An example of one of these was P-40E 41-5535. Originally destined for the USSR following its acceptance on December 6 1941 by the USAAF, it was reversed from Defence Aid per contract DAR-42-381 and sent as part of the Project "X" shipments to Australia. Arriving on the USS Hammondsport in Brisbane, it was assembled and accepted in USAFIA service on February 22 1942. From there, it was transferred to RAAF service as A29-48 on March 18 1942. Later it became one of the attrition P-40Es sent to Port Moresby for use with 75 Sqn and was lost on May 2 1942.

41-5535 A29-48 "Y" of 75Sqn RAAF, flown by P/O "Poison" Pete McMasters

The process of standardising paint schemes on RAAF P-40s lagged behind headquarters requirements. Operational demands were so strong at this time that there was simply not enough time to repaint every aircraft, so several P-40Es in squadron service remained in USAAF Dark Olive Drab. This included A29-28. This particular P-40E, 41-5336, was one of the 18 original Pensacola Convoy P-40Es. It did not join the 17th Pursuit Squadron (Prov) on its flight to Java but remained at Amberley to be used by 3 Service Flying Training School to train pilots, both USAAF and RAAF, until permanently transferred to the RAAF during March 1942.

The photograph below was taken on or shortly after March 6 1942 at Amberley. The clue is the 22nd BG B-26 Marauders that had recently arrived from Hawaii. The striped tails belong to these aircraft.

A29-28 aka 41-5336 in Olive Drab circa 26/03/42. (Credit: Buz Bushby)

I’ll examine the initial operations of 75 (F) Sqn RAAF and the formation of 76 (F) Sqn RAAF in the next article - Part VIII of this series.

I would like to express my special thanks to Bill Bartsch and the P-40E "Mafia" (Buz, Shane, Bob, Peter and Gordon C) for their help. And also a special thanks to Bob Livingstone for editing this article.

The research would not have been possible without the Airforce Historical Research Association in the USA for aircraft data cards, the National Archives of Australia and to those people who added "important" bits here and there, to make this story. The story is still in-complete, but we, collectively may get there.GRB.

Gordon R Birkett ©2004 Researcher & Coordinator for ADF-Serials Site (Specializing WW2)



On This Day

2 Mar 1972 Last RAAF Flight out of Vietnam

7 Mar 1950 Lincoln 30A A73-44 crewed by FLTLT C. Lynch DFC 415341,(Pilot), P2 L. Bradney A22169, N2 S. Templer 442804 and SIG1 J. Wiber A22044

took off on a Co-Pilot familiarisation flight and was later seen to dive vertically into the ground south of Rosewood, near Amberley,QLD.

14 Mar 1942 Wirraway A20-404 from 1OTU piloted by SGT Noel Elford Giddings (416021)

Crashed near Lake Glen Maggie, Vic

16 Mar 1943 Flight Lieutenant William Ellis Newton awarded the Victoria Cross

18 Mar 1969 Mirage IIIO A3-37 from 75SQN piloted by WGCDR E.J. Myers

crashed into sea during low-level intercept mission at night off Singapore.

20 Mar 1917 Lieutenant Frank Hubert McNamara awarded the Victoria Cross

21 Mar 1942 Battle for Port Moresby begins

22 Mar 1942 Japanese bomb Katherine in the Northern Territory

27 Mar 1953 Last engagement between RAAF Meteors and Soviet Migs in Korea

31 Mar 1921 Formation of Royal Australian Air Force


Thank you to Dean Norman's aircrew losses research, the Australian War Memorial’s "This Month" and the RSL Diary for dates for this month’s On this Day segment- Jan


Can you help identify these images?

We have a page on the website full of images we need help with, just like the one below. If you can help please visit the page below and contact us if you have anything to add.

The Nomad below is marked as A18-300 and is located at Oakey QLD.

If you have something for the newsletter or would like to submit an article, query or image, please use the following link: