ADF Serials Newsletter
For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials

May 2003
in this issue
-- ADF Team Member - Gordon B
-- P40E in Australian Service Part 1 - Gordon B
-- Sabres supplied to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI) - Martin Edwards
-- Sabre update A94-923 -We've found it, can you provide info on its history?
-- Book browsing - titles on the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS)
-- Canberra Updates - thanks to Martin Edwards
-- Position Vacant - Team Coordinator ADF Serials
-- Beaufort, an enigma of self reliance and hazards - Gordon B
-- Your Feedback
-- Do you have something for us?

Welcome everyone to the May newsletter which contains a variety of aviation topics for you. This month we have a look at one of the team members - Gordon B who is our research coordinator and a regular contributor to the newsletter. Check out part 1 of his series on P40E's in Australian service. Gordon has also written an article on Beaufort losses

Now that its getting cooler, many of us flee indoors to hibernate during winter. Time to check out new titles? See our piece on two books written by Peter Ilbery on the EATS scheme in Southern NSW.

We have some updates on Sabres and Canberras. Read on to see where one Sabre now calls home!

Would you like to get involved in the adf-serials group? We are on the lookout for page administrators for some aircraft and also a team coordinator to keep us in line :-). If you are interested, please contact darren@adf- serials.com

Forthcoming articles: Gordon B continues with the P40E's in Australian Service, more updates and a new section including aircraft images.

Till next month, Jan.

ADF Team Member - Gordon B
This month we continue our look at the team that makes up ADF serials with the following interesting submission by Gordon B

The aviation term, "proven and mature design, with constant updates in avionics" best describes me, as now in my mid-forties, I have come to appreciate that sometimes the written word is not always true. I've had an interest in Aviation for most of my life. From my father making Balsa wooden gliders for me to fly when I was eight years old to the "now" period of exhaustive compulsives of getting "that serial tie up". "How did it happen?" I often wonder. My dad gave me a present of a Spitfire for my birthday when I was ten, then finding out years later it was a French Dewoitine D520. A question of recognition I suppose started there.

Again, perhaps it was to find the truth to a long time question; was there only twenty-five P40 RAAF Kittyhawks between Australia and the Japanese, in March 1942? My dad and his family generation always thought that was the case. The exploits of the newly formed fighter squadron, No 75 Squadron, and its epic defense of Port Moresby from March 1942 are reasonably documented. Details on the aircraft were not that clear, particularly where they came from. So as a emerging interest I started reading up on the period, this latter became researching, and what is becoming more apparent, discovering for the first time in almost sixty years the real happenings that went on. It's still not complete, but I must admit, it's been one of the most rewarding aviation research things I have ever done. Over the forthcoming editions of these monthly newsletters, I'd like to share some of that story. On reflection, through these research challenges, I have met such good people by doing this, including the ADF-Serial team, leading aviation writers and people with the same passionate love of aviation history.

Reading available "expert" publications, Internet research and communication with other Aviation "Buffs" has been a fleeting experience or pass time before I happened across Darren's early ADF Serial Website some two years or so ago. I saw a couple of details missing on some serials, so I took the plunge and provided an "update".

I was rewarded with a thank you from Darren and my name went on an "update". Much to Darren's delight, this started a constant flow of information over the years for those aircraft details that were and are still missing in final details in some cases. Since there was a regular flow of updates on the main stream, I thought I'd concentrate on those ones that could be well defined as difficult and hard to get. These range from Article 15 RAAF squadrons during WW2 and to those bad times between 1941 to mid 1942 when records were scarce, and details dismally short.

Of course Darren, always was on the lookout for a page administrator, something I have successfully eluded to this day I might add :-), I was kindly offered research spot on the ADF-Serial team some months after "first" contact. Again, recently, I felt compelled to nominate for the new position of Research Co-ordinator. This role is something of a misnomer, as I think that all of us continue to explore information at first hand,"if only to see it first hand to believe it". I intend to continue my own "period" research, providing resource points on other ADF types and passing on raw data or finds directly to the relevant page administrators for their research, rather then extracting the detailed information as a individual serial update. The reverse would apply to all others so that we can reduce any duplication of effort. I hope that this will meet with the approval of all ADF-Serial Researchers and Page Administrators as it could reduce the hours of research needed, if only sometimes.

Inquiries by those people who come across and search this site and are interested in a particular aircraft are also welcome to request for more information. Why? Because sometimes the actual details of what you see on this site is in fact the "tip of the iceberg " of what has been tabled from the research.

Food for thought?

Editor's note: I'm sure everyone looks forward to Gordon's well researched and interesting articles each month and he does indeed fill a void in Australian military history!

P40E in Australian Service Part 1 - Gordon B
Issue#1 P40Es in short supply: An overview

The P40E represented the first modern massed produced fighter that the RAAF had at that time to carry the fight to the then relentless onslaught, by the Japanese, up to March 1942. Up to that time, apart from Brewster Buffaloes operated in Malaya in forward defense by 21 and 453 Squadrons, Australia had no front line Fighter aircraft equipping it's airforce on the mainland of Australia. That force had been whittled down to a few serviceable airframes by the 17th February 1942 in Sumatra, NEI. P40Es were being flown to Java by the USAAF in small numbers and were also separately shipped in two ships to Java for re-equipping those depleted RAF and NEI airforce fighter squadrons there. That proved to be an exercise in futility from the start, as it would have been seen in hindsight.

It must be remembered that the British also did reinforce the Far East in January and February 1942 with over 48 Hudson Bombers (flown out) and over 100 Hurricanes fighters (51 crated by sea and the balance by aircraft carrier). However they were consumed by the fighting during this period. During this time, the Australian Government realizing the imminent collapse of the Netherlands East Indies, commenced making numerous requests to both the British and American Governments for a early allocation of suitable Tomahawk type fighters as used by Australian Squadrons in the Middle East. The choice was based on the availability of experienced pilots being seconded back to Australia, and the fact that the supply of Spitfires or Hurricanes was practically non- existent due to heavy fighting in the Europe/Middle East theatres.

The January 1942 requests initially centered on the British Government to reallocate some 250 P40 Type fighters to equip 6 fighter squadrons and an OTU, along with attrition replacements for a period of 6 months. These figures were based on the strength of 16 in-use and 8 in-use reserve aircraft for each squadron and twelve aircraft in an OTU. The balance of 94 would be held for training and attrition. After several telegrams to Britain, a early February reply came back whereby they agreed to allowing 125 airframes from their next production allocation, along with the proviso that the Americans supply the 125 airframe balance from their production allocation. This would provide a single squadron at Port Moresby, Sydney, Brisbane, Canberra, and with two for Darwin. But the P40Es weren't allocated.

However at this time, General Marshall, was insisted that there was an outstanding ABDA requirement to provide this command with all available Australian assembled P40Es to Java. To this end the first three USAAF Provisional Squadrons had departed to Java by the 14th February 1942 via Darwin. These P40E were drawn from the first the two shipments to Brisbane, 18 P40Es 22/12/41 and 55 P40Es 15/01/42 resulting in only 39 out of 73 assembled at Amberley, arriving in Java. Two further squadrons were dispatched from the 11th February, formed from previous balance and the third shipment of seventy-one P40E/E-1s, arriving in Brisbane on the 30th January 1942.
A note should be made that at this time, that the returned Pilots from the Middle East and those who were to be the initial cadre of trained pilots for the first two P40E squadrons, had undertaken conversion training on P40Es. This was done at Archerfield and Amberley (23Sqn and 3 SFTS respectively) whilst providing dual control checks on Wirraways for the new USAAF P40E pilots from the States. This was a joint RAAF and USAAF agreement, which was the answer to stem the number of accidents, caused by limited trained pilots, fresh out of training schools from the United States.
Meanwhile, General Barnes, who was in charge of the USAAF in Australia at the time, was concerned about the ferry losses to Java, did considered and implemented a reinforcement plan whereby the force would embark the USS Langley at Fremantle and would be sailed to Java. Needless to say, this force was split in transit at Port Pirie, with the majority of the 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) being redirected to provide fighter cover for transiting convoys out of Darwin. Three further fighter squadrons were to be sent to complete the need of eight squadrons for ABDA before consideration in completing the requirement of forming numbers nine and ten, being the new RAAF fighter squadrons, to defend the Australian mainland.

Prior to the sailing of the USS Langley on the 21st February 1942 from Fremantle, the Australian Government telegram the American Government requesting that these two squadron worth of aircraft be re-directed to Darwin, which had suffered its first air raid on the 19th February 1942. This did not happen and the convoy, MS-5 (Melbourne to Singapore #5) sailed to its fate, its P40Es destine to be destroyed. The Japanese at this time had invaded Sumatra by the end of February and Java at the beginning of March 1942, caused therefore a major rethink of where the next assembling three P40E Squadrons would eventually go.

This unit of three squadrons (7th, 8th and 9th PS) was the 49th Pursuit Group, the first whole fighter group to be deployed since the commencement of hostilities to the pacific theatre. It too was still waiting for P40E aircraft, as the remnants of the first three convoys weren't enough to equip it. It wasn't till mid February when the assembled P40E/E- 1s of the forth shipment (5th February 1942) started arriving mid February 1942 for each squadron to equip with. Latter in March, we would see the 7th Pursuit was sent to Horn Island, so as to keep that air route open for the reinforcement of Port Moresby. The 9th Pursuit Squadron would also be sent to Darwin in March 1942. The remaining 8th Pursuit Squadron would remain at Canberra till the 8th April, till it too went north to Darwin.

Again, the Australian Government requested again in late February (22nd) and was at last granted two allocations. One further USAAF Unit was to be allocated P40E/E-1s in Australia, the 68th Pursuit Squadron, prior to moving to New Caledonia in May 1942. These were shipped in crates from Brisbane during early May 1942 to its destination.

Firstly, a request for a limited number for training (6- 12) was granted, followed by a monthly allocation from March 1942 of 42, 40, and then 40 up to May 1942. The order from the American Government was immediately effected, whereby a limited number of airframes, approximately 6, were allocated, still with USAAF Cockades to 3 SFTS at Amberley, in late February 1942. Thus started the beginnings of a long association between the RAAF and the P40.

The P40E/E-1 from the RAAF View Coupled with a non-supercharged Allison V1710-F3R (39) 1150 HP Engine and a high wing loading, it did not perform particularly well at altitudes higher then 15000 ft when required to dogfight. The solution eventually came, after much combat experience, was to use its strengths, particularly in diving, sturdy construction and speed, to overcome its disadvantages when weighed against more agile Japanese aircraft. With increasing numbers available, trained Pilots and the use of improved tactics, resulted in blunting the Japanese waves of success from April 42 onwards.

In the RAAF operational context, an effort was made to produce a periodical Information Fighter Bulletin, referring to fighter tactics, both enemy and successful Allied and other important details that came to light, was being circulated from mid 1942. These were sent to RAAF Fighter Squadrons (i.e. 75,76,77, 30,31 etc) as well to Fighter Flights within Citizen Squadrons (i.e. 25 Sqn at Pearce, WA that had Buffaloes) in order improve Allied preparedness and to understand Japanese formation tactics used. Up to six Bulletins were issued to the end of 1942. They ranged from simple "stay alive " tactics of weaving, a climbing turn into a Zero attack to attacking Japanese Bomber "V" formations, to minimize exposure to supporting bomber machinegun fire. The latter successful tactics were written by the 49th FG P40E Squadron's on their defensive attacks on Japanese bombers over Darwin during June to August 1942. This was important, as the USAAF in Australia did not receive any further imported or assembled P40Es after May 1942 (having had around some 552 Airframes delivered by then), as further deliveries were being sent to other theatres in more need. It would be nearly January 1943 before deliveries of P40Ks begun to arrive for the USAAF in PNG. Thus the need to conserve those airframes, either by changing tactics or by prolonging them by careful use and maintenance, had to be done. This had a knock on effect to the RAAF, who initially were issued 140 approximately up to June 1942, as the pool of reserve aircraft held by both the USAAF and RAAF dwindled to very low levels by September 1942. There were cases in early April 1942, due to heavy losses by the 49th FG, where RAAF allocated airframes were repossessed by the USAAF before being issue to RAAF Squadrons. For example:
A29-94 41-25163 returned USAAF 28/4/4241-25176 becomes then A29-9413/5/42
A29-95 41-25185 returned USAAF 28/4/4241-25177 becomes then A29-9513/5/42
A29-96 41-25181returned USAAF 28/4/42 41-35966 ET612 becomes then A29- 9613/5/42
A29-97 41-25174returned USAAF 28/4/42 41-35970 ET616 becomes then A29- 9713/5/42
A29-98 41-25167returned USAAF 28/4/42 41-35973 ET619 becomes then A29- 9813/5/42
A29-99 41-25177returned USAAF 28/4/4241-35974 ET620 becomes then A29- 9913/5/42
It is interesting since 41-25177 ex-A29-99 had a interesting career with the 49th FG 41-25164(A29-92) Returned USAAF 28/4/42 then new card states "A29-92" now 41-25166 13/5/42 and was kept on RAAF Strength. 41-25180(A29-93) returned USAAF 28/4/42 the remains were found 12/4/1967 at Gurney Strip, Milne Bay and the record states that the aircraft was s/d 11/8/42 there, so it would seem that it came back into the RAAF?

A further trickle of 23 or so airframes flowed on till September 1942. This is also the first case I have found whereby the RAAF re-used serials for different USAAF Serialed aircraft (i.e. A29-91). There were also cases where aircraft were refused to the RAAF by the then USAAF 5th Airforce, because there was no P40E's left to spare, as the 49thFG was down to some 64 airframes by September 1942. Well below the establish strength of 80 airframes required by their table of equipment.

In some respects the actual number of RAAF P40E/E- 1s hasn't been concluded as yet due to the problem of identification of the original issues. Though they were serialed from A29-1 to A29-163, some were never taken on charge.

Others crashed on delivery ex-USAAF or were taken on charged, damaged but then returned following repair, to the USAAF.

Confusing? Yes it is, as some of my counts hover around approximately 170 or moreP40E/E-1s RAAF nominated airframes, with at least five (maybe even up to seven), being returned to the USAAF. Questions like did A29-73 exist? What were the USAAF Serials of those first Kittyhawks? We do have speculative answers for those questions. But more on that in latter newsletters. So there appears to be a long way to go, and therefore we welcome any information or photographs pertaining to pre-march 42 period and early 75 Sqn photos during the period in PNG.
But perhaps over the next few newsletters, it would be better to share the whole picture from the very first day they arrived in Australia to the end of 1941.

This, we'll do, but first what the difference between a P40E-CU and a P40E-1-CU?

Next issue we'll examine the differences and identification points of the P40E-CU's and P40E-1- CU's by comparison, with a P40N-1, in more detail than has ever been read by the average Aviation Buff.

Sabres supplied to the Indonesian Air Force (TNI) - Martin Edwards
Due to an error with the conversion of Martins notes on our part, this list has been removed from this issue, corrected and will be distributed in the June 2003 issue of our newsletter.

Sabre update A94-923 -We've found it, can you provide info on its history?
The location of A94-923 has been solved with the following submission to the updates database at ADF- Serials:

Dear Sir, I am administrator and lecturer of Kbely Aviation Museum (Prague, Czech Republic). I would like to point you that we have the construction plate from cockpit of our Sabre that indicates it is A94-923. So maybe our Sabre was completed from parts of different planes or something like that.

How did an Aussie Sabre end up in Prague?
Mirek Khol from Prague provided the following explanation: this plane was swapped with Mr. Saunders for parts of Yak-11 in 1998. The plane arrived at Kbely on December 16th, 1998 painted in the colours of 3 Sqn with sabre and No. 3 on fuselage and A94-923 serial, except small red stars on the nose (these were added by BMZ company after assembly in 2001. Although on the tail is the inscription "Restored by Western Warbirds" the airplane was incomplete without engine, instruments, left leading edge and many other parts. This is all what I am know about our airplane and I am wonder if someone can add more information. Can anyone assist?. If so email darren@adf- serials.com

Book browsing - titles on the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS)
As part of my ongoing research, I read a lot of military books and often request these from other libraries. This month I will look briefly at two publications which cover some aspects of EATS training in Australia.

The first is Empire Airmen Strike Back: The Empire Air Training Scheme and 5SFTS Uranqunity by Peter Ilbery (Banner Books 1999, ISBN 1875593209)

This book gives an excellent rundown of the origin of EATS and its training regime. There are first hand accounts of the aircrews experiences when posted to operational squadrons. However, I think its main strength is the inclusion of course lists (some with photos) painstakingly compiled from the Personnel Occurrence Records held at RAAF Historical Section. A very well researched publication!

The second book is Hatching at Air Force: 2SFTS, 5SFTS, 1BFTS Uranquinty and Wagga Wagga by Peter Ilbery (Banner Books 2002, ISBN1875593241). This book contains information on the wartime expansion of the RAAF, first hand accounts of overseas service by EATS graduates and extends past the war years. It also includes course lists and photos and updated information obtained after the publication of Empire Airmen Strike Back.

The author Peter Ilbery, an EATS graduate from Uranquinty, has drawn on his own experiences and others to document an important part of our WW2 history.

Why not check out these titles as well?

Canberra Updates - thanks to Martin Edwards
Well this is obviously a popular research topic judging by the updates received this month:

Martin Edwards sent the following information that was published in Flightpath Magazine Volume 1 Number 4,1989. The previous issue of Flightpath had given details of four Canberras at Morwell, Vic. Two cockpit sections were saved A84-222, A84-224 by private interests. However, the remaining airframes and aircraft A84- 221 and A84-216 were scrapped. It is further evidence supporting the nose being 224.(Nose of 222 is at Moorabbin).

Thanks to Martin's sleuthing, the puzzle has been solved, another example of how collaborative research benefits everyone.

Click here to see image by Neil Fitzclarence

Position Vacant - Team Coordinator ADF Serials
Interested in aviation history? Would you like to join the adf-serials team as team coordinator? Read on.....
The adf-serials team needs the services of a team coordinator, someone to coordinate the role of page administrators and who can assist decisions about the appointment of new page adminstrators etc and lighten some of Darren's load!

The adf-serials group members are a great bunch of people who provide a valuable resource on military history to the public and to other researchers. The great thing is the flexibility of the group - people give what time they can, when they can as we all have other commitments - work, study, family etc.

If you are interested please contact darren@adf- serials.com for further information.

Beaufort, an enigma of self reliance and hazards - Gordon B
For a country of our size, to contemplate prior to the commencement of World War 2 in producing license copies of the Bristol Beaufort Bomber, it would be seen as an extremely daunting task. Apart from the series re- assembly of imported aircraft in knock down kit form, very few numbers of aircraft was produced wholly (Engines/Airframes/electrical/hydraulic/appendages) in Australia up to this time.,br>
CAC at this time was gearing up to produce the Wirraway, with prototypes of the Wackett trainer being constructed, but not flown as yet a month before the commencement of hostilities. To say for a population and industrial base, it was indeed an immense challenge. In July 1939, even before the British prototype had even flown, a contract was agreed upon whereby 180 aircraft were to be produced (equally divided between the RAF and RAAF).

The Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) contracted various Organizations to participate in the manufacture of this aircraft as partly listed below:

  • State Rail, Newport Victoria(rear fuselage, tailplane, elevators, fin and rudder)
  • State Rail, Chullora New South Wales (Forward Fuselage, u/carriage, Glazing and framing)
  • Fisherman's Bend, Victoria (centre Section and final assembly and flight test)
  • Mascot , New South Wales ( final Assembly and flight testing

  • Most Aviation Historians would note that the even serials were produced at Mascot, NSW, with the odd serials produced at Fisherman's Bend, Victoria. A pattern aircraft was sent out late in 1939, L4448 (latter A9-1001) for the purpose of testing changes made to the design (Beaufort Mk V, with Pratt and Whitney engines as opposed to the initial British variety with Bristol Taurus engines)

    The first fifty-eight Beaufort MkV's were British serialed, from T9540 to T9569/T9583-9608/T9624- T9625, as it was intended that aircraft from this run were destined for the defense of Singapore. The story of the first seven Beauforts (T9542, T9543 (crashed on way up at Batchelor, NT), T9544, T9545, T9546 and T9547) ferry flight and delivery to Singapore and subsequent withdrawal is worth a small mention, though a through separate article would be needed to tell the whole story. This will come in a latter article by itself. This was as far as the original production idea got, with only T9547 (latter A9-8) staying on for reconnaissance work till February 1942. Unfortunately, this aircraft was damaged on landing on its journey home at Tennant Creek, NT.

    But our story flows on to September 1943, when by then, a total of some 452 Beauforts had been delivered to the RAAF and series production was up to the Mk VIII version.

    At this time, the loss rate from operations and from operational conversion Units had reach a number that was deemed, even by the then considered acceptable percentage, as being abnormally high.

    Representation was made by the Advisory War Council to the Beaufort Division of DAP for a analysis on the number of accidents and causes of the high number accidents experienced by the RAAF up to that time. On examining a reply to the Advisory War Council, under the signature of the then Prime Minister of Australia, Mr. John Curtin, some interesting, though horrifying non- operational accident statistics, came to light.

    Aside from accidents and operational losses during the first 7 months of the Pacific War, and following operational losses up to September 1943, some 140 Beauforts were involved in accidents as follows:

    Personal failures resulting in material damage or write- off
  • Pilot error, 43 accidents
  • Taxiing , 11 accidents
  • Swing on take-off or landing, 11 accidents

  • Equipment failure resulting in material damage or write- off
  • Engine failure, 25 accidents
  • Mechanical failure, 15 accidents
  • Fire, 5 accidents
  • Faulty maintenance, 1 accident
  • Tyre blowouts, 8 accidents*

  • Unexplained losses
  • Loss of control, 9 accidents
  • Unknown, 12 accidents

  • These 140 accidents resulted in the deaths of some 117 aircrew as per below (F= Fatal):
  • 1 OTU 55a/c (15F)and 57 aircrew
  • 5 OTU 11a/c(1F) and 6 aircrew
  • RAAF Station Nowra (BTU and 6OTU) 13a/c (3F)and 13 aircrew
  • [Editor: the 13 aircrew included 8 instructors killed during a flying demonstration in April 1943]
  • 6 Sqn 1a/c
  • 7 Sqn 16a/c
  • 8 Sqn 5a/c(2F) and 6 aircrew
  • 14Sqn 8a/c(3F) and 18 aircrew
  • 31Sqn 1a/c
  • 32Sqn 5a/c(1F) and 5 aircrew
  • 100Sqn 13a/c(3F) and 12 aircrew
  • 1AD 5a/c
  • 2AD 2a/c
  • 2AP(test and Ferry Flt) 1a/c
  • CFS 1a/c
  • CGS 2a/c
  • 4 Comm Flt 1a/c

  • It was deem that compared to other operational type records, that there was really not that much difference in loss rates. Causes weren't really attributed to any particular fault, except perhaps for the urgent need to have trained aircrew for the Squadrons. Previously in an earlier March 1943 report to the Prime Minister, who also acting as Defence Minister, it was then stated that no separate reason could be highlighted. Examples of Beaufort accidents and other types operated were given from 1 OTU:
  • Hudson A16-38 - Starboard Wing Failure( caused from a previous combat damaged spar in Malaya)
  • Oxford BG473 - failure of wing in flight
  • Beaufort A9-72 - failure of brakes through pipelinebecoming disconnected
  • Beaufort A9-160 - failure of brakes owing to pressure line to guns coming adrift
  • Beaufort A9-13 - Engine failure due to non- ascertained faults
  • Beaufort A9-86 - Engine failure due to non- ascertained faults
  • Battle L5704 - Engine failure due to non- ascertained faults
  • Battle L5659 - Engine failure due to non- ascertained faults

  • So I guess that the truth be known in war, that the majority of Beaufort losses suffered in training were higher than operational losses. What's more interesting? Well it seems that one of these Beauforts listed before still exists! T9552 alias A9-13 still exists today, although in a "not so" pretty state, at the Army Aviation Centre at Oakey, Queensland. This and the one down at the AWM are truly a tribute to those dark days, when our fledgling aircraft industry was trying to grow.

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