ADF Serials Newsletter

For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials



August 2004


In this Issue:

·        Editor’s blurb

·        ADF Serials Team News

·        P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia-USAAF Part X Ver 2F – Gordon B

·        Ramp Strike aboard HMAS Melbourne 1971 – Phil Thompson

·        Price rise at the National Archives of Australia - Jan

·        Iron Range Airfield near Lockhart River

·        Can you Help?

·        Feedback

·        On This Day - Jan



Editor’s Blurb:

Hi everyone.  Our subscriber list increases every month and it is great to see new submissions of articles etc by old and new aviation aficionados.  The number of people actively involved in updating the content on the website is constantly growing – the success of the website is due to these hardworking volunteers who give up their time to research and update information.  Check out the new developments under ADF serials team news.


This month’s newsletter contains the next instalment of Gordon B’s groundbreaking research on P40’s.  Gordon has put in hundreds if not thousands of hours researching the P40’s and has produced a wonderful series of articles so far with more to come in the future.  Keep up the great work!


I am always pleased to be able to include articles on naval or army aviation, especially articles written of first hand experiences.  This month, Phil Thompson, an A4 Skyhawk pilot with 805 Sqn (RAN) at the time, has provided not only a first hand account of a ramp strike incident aboard the HMAS Melbourne in 1971, but some wonderful images as well.  So if you have an incident that you would like to share with us, email us via the feedback link.


Our feedback link continues to provide requests for help and also information to assist others.  I would like to thank those who take the time to assist fellow researchers.  The diversity of the visitors to the website and feedback link is incredible! 


Till next month,





ADF Serials Team News

We would all like to welcome Steve Mackenzie who has joined the team as the editor for Mustang web page.  Welcome aboard!  Ron Wynn has volunteered to look after the Mosquito pages.  Martin Edwards who has put a lot of time and effort into the Canberra webpage over the past year or so is now tackling the Sabre page as well.  Thanks everyone for your hard work!





P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia-USAAF Part X Ver 2F – Gordon B


On the 8th March 1942, the 9th Pursuit Squadron of the 49th Pursuit Group set out from Williamtown RAAF Base for its intended destination, Darwin. This Squadron would provide air cover, the first for Darwin since the virtual destruction of A Flight, 33rd Pursuit Squadron (Provisional) some four weeks prior on the 19th February 1942.


Like most of the previous deployments to Darwin over the past few months on the Brereton Route, the toll of crashed and damaged P-40Es began to mount. From the 25 P-40E/E-1s, which started, only 13 had arrived at Darwin by late afternoon on the 17th March 1942. The remaining damaged and surviving 11 aircraft would follow when repaired.


With the increasing Japanese air activities over the north of Australia, including the bombing of Horn Island (where the 7th PS claimed the first kills for the 49th PG), a move to a more secure location was considered. It was decided that the 9th Pursuit Squadron would relocate some distance back from the coast on the 19th March to the more secure strip at Batchelor 1942.


The First Kill


The 9th PS didn’t wait long to go into action. RAAF radar at Dripstone Cliffs detected a Japanese Naval Mitsubishi Ki-15 reconnaissance aircraft of the 3rd Kokutai at around 12.45pm being flown in advance of a formation of G4M Betty’s of the Takao Kokutai.

This radar unit reported through the RAAF No.5 Fighter Sector Unit. This formation was heading towards Katherine further south; to bomb any remaining allied bombing aircraft that were sheltering there.


 A 4-aircraft 9thPS patrol was vectored to the lone intruder’s intended path. The patrol separated into two flights to search for the Ki-15. 2nd Lt Clyde Harvey (41-5614) and 2nd Lt Stephan Poleschuk (41-5638) successfully intercepted the aircraft and made several passes at it. Soon the aircraft trailed heavy smoke and continued northerly over the sea, gradually losing altitude. One crewman was seen to parachute successfully when the aircraft was west of Bathurst Island.


2nd Lt Stephan “Polly” Poleschuk’s P-40E-CU 41-5638, later as #96 “Huyebo” with post 28/03/42 USAAF Blue/White Star Insignia


The patrol landed at Darwin to refuel and then proceeded to Batchelor. The first kill for the 9th Pursuit Squadron was then credited, some says by a coin toss, to 2nd Lt Stephan Poleschuk.


This was the start of an impressive combat record for this squadron in World War Two.


A fatal loss and numerous accidents period marred this March period. On the 24th March 1942, an unsuccessful attempt was made to intercept an enemy raid. All serviceable P-40E’s, numbering some 18 aircraft, transited from Batchelor to RAAF Darwin to refuel and to continue a patrol.


On landing, 2nd Lt Thomas R Fowler 0-425165, in Box #255 crashed his P-40E-CU on landing which resulted in the aircraft nosing over on its back. It was a write-off.

This left the 9th Pursuit Squadron with only 17 serviceable P-40Es on hand with around thirty pilots to fly them. Again the 9th Pursuit Squadron missed engaging with the enemy.



P-40E-CU 41-5326 Box #255 2nd Lt Thomas R Fowler crashed landed at RAAF Darwin 24/03/42


One of the repaired transiting P-40Es, #240, flown by 2nd Lt Sidney Woods, was taking off from Daly Waters to join the rest of the Squadron at Batchelor when trouble struck. The engine quit. Woods skilfully placed the aircraft back down on the remaining part of the strip, but continued on into the tree line at the end of the strip


P-40E-1-CU 41-24803 ET153 #240 2nd Lt Sidney Woods crashed on take-off Daly Waters 25/03/42


Revenge for the 33rd Pursuit Squadron’s Captain Pell by 2nd Lt Robert Vaught


On the 28th March 1942, following a change of tactics by the Squadron, the Japanese unchallenged raids of the past few days, and early warning by RAAF radar, an interception took place over Beagle Gulf with 7 G4M Betty’s of the Takao Kokutai at around 14.20hrs.


Earlier at 11.00 hrs a Japanese “Babs” reconnaissance aircraft had overflown Darwin and released a meteorological balloon to gather atmospheric information for an attack. This caused the scrambling of a flight of 9 P-40Es from Batchelor to try and intercept this aircraft, however the altitude of the aircraft was some 10,000ft above the P-40E’s ceiling. They were unable to intercept.

The flight of 9 P-40Es, piloted by 2nd Lt Mitch Zawisza, 2nd Lt Bill Sells, 2nd Lt Clyde Harvey, 2nd Lt Stephan Poleschuk, 2nd Lt Robert Vaught, 2nd Lt Joe Kruzal, 2nd Lt Driver, 2nd Lt James Porter and 2nd Lt Manning then landed for refuelling at RAAF Darwin. 


The 7 bombers’ target was the airfield, and the first indication of trouble was the sound of bombs falling on RAAF Darwin where the flight had only just finished refuelling. The mad scramble to get airborne was on, with all successfully aloft, save for 2nd Lt Manning whose engine failed on take-off.


2nd Lt Zawisza finally caught up with 4 other P-40Es led by Vaught and attacked the formation. They made three repeated attacks, causing the formation to disperse before they latched onto a trailing Betty. Zawisza made the first pass, followed by Vaught’s flight of four.


This is perhaps the most famous 49th FG P-40E-1-CU of all, in 1942.

41-24872 aka ET196 #94 “Bob’s Robin”. It should be noted that this aircraft is depicted in the post 28/03/42 USAAF Blue/White Star Insignia


Back on the 19th February 1942 at RAAF Darwin, Vaught’s P-40E, #28, was handed over to Captain Floyd Pell, whose P-40E #03 was unserviceable. Pell was shot down after scrambling to take-off to intercept the Japanese. Bob Vaught was eager to level the score, with interest, as he was on the ground at RAAF Darwin for the first raid.


His aircraft, a replacement for his previously damaged P-40E-1-CU (41-24797 when repaired, was transferred on the 7th March 1942 to the RAAF as one of the first 10 P-40Es at Bankstown), was a re-built P-40E-1-CU finished roughly in olive drab, sporting a 112 Sqn RAF inspired Sharkmouth.


With the aerial fight continuing out to sea for around eighty miles before contact was broken off, Vaught was eventually credited with shooting this aircraft down. A total of three bombers was claimed by the participating pilots with all being seen trailing heavy black smoke. However historical research post-war has revealed only one was in fact destroyed. This engagement changed the composition of future raids with the Japanese providing fighter escorts on those missions.


The next raid came two days later, on the 30th March 1942, signalled by the familiar meteorology balloon launched by the leading reconnaissance aircraft, and with the formation picked up by the RAAF radar unit at a distance of 60 miles. This raid consisted of seven twin engine bombers with an escort of five Zeros. Due to the short warning, the P-40Es of the 9th Pursuit Squadron was still climbing to intercept their quarry when they were attacked by the Zeros.


This tied up the 9th Pursuit Squadron, which then resulted in the unimpeded bombing of RAAF Darwin by the seven bombers. Cannon fire from one of the Zeros caused damage to 2nd Lt James “Jim” Porter’s tail assembly whilst anotherP-40E, that of 2nd Lt William “Bill” Sell, was badly shot up. Both withdrew from the aerial dogfight.  Porter was able to land his P-40E at Batchelor Strip. It would be later repaired by the 43rd Material Service Squadron and re-issued to the 7th Pursuit several weeks later.


Meanwhile 2nd Lt Robert “Bob” McComsey was having troubles of his own trying to shake off a Zero over the sea near Darwin. After his aircraft was heavily damaged by machine-gun fire, his P-40E went into an unrecoverable stall, requiring him to bale out. His aircraft crashed into the sea while he drifted in his chute towards the coastal hinterland swamp.


The result of this raid was that one P-40E was lost in combat and two heavily damaged. No enemy aircraft were shot down.


2nd Lt James Porter’s 9th PS P-40E –CU 41-5574 following being repaired and in service with the 7th Pursuit Squadron as #16  “Elmer”, May 1942. Original Box # unknown



2nd Lt Robert “Bob” McComsey’s 9th PS P-40E-CU 41-5548 as lost on the 30th March 1942 off the coast near West Point, Darwin. It was Box #213


The following day, the 31st March 1942, the Japanese returned to bomb Darwin when at 12.35hrs seven bombers unleashed their bombs from 17000ft on the RAAF station.


One of three flights dispersed at Adelaide River, Batchelor and RAAF Darwin made interception. This five-aircraft flight from RAAF Darwin, led by Philippines and Java veteran 2nd Lt Andy Reynolds, desperately climbed past 7000ft. One P-40E  #014, piloted by 2nd Lt Richard Taylor, remained on the ground with engine trouble during the bombing, but escaped unscathed.


The flight was jumped by the twelve escorting Zeros. Unable to get to the bombers, they were forced to fight for their lives with the Zeros for several minutes whilst the bombers continued on.


After clearing his tail, 2nd Lt Andy Reynolds managed to damage and then shoots down one of these Zeros into the sea north of Darwin. This was the first Zero shot down in aerial combat over Darwin by the 9th Pursuit Squadron.


Australian Army gunners also managed to damage at least one bomber with their AA fire.


We’ll leave the 49th Pursuit Group at Darwin as at the 31st March 1942 as reinforcements, in the shape of the 7th Pursuit Squadron, is on their way. The next instalment of the 49th Pursuit Group will cover the April 1942 period culminating on the 25th April 1942, Anzac Day, the first absolute aerial battle victory at Darwin when the 49th Pursuit Group outnumbered the enemy for the first time.


2nd Lt Richard Taylor’s P-40E Serial unknown, #014 at RAAF Darwin, on the ground during the bombing on the 31st March 1942 being repaired.



41-5326 Box #255 of 2nd Lt Thomas R Fowler being retrieved by 43rd Material Sqn

April 42 (Buz Bushby)


Special thanks given to Bob Livingstone, Buz Bushby and Shane Johnston for all their help and assistance in making this article possible. This is a mosaic of all of our research and fruits of our frustration at times. Again thanks to the NAA and USAF AHRA.


In the next instalment:

P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia Part XI – 75 Sqn Defence of Port Moresby April-May 1942




Ramp Strike aboard HMAS Melbourne 1st Sept 1971 – Phil Thompson

(This text is an e-mail written in response to a question about which pilot was involved in this incident and the questioner's comment: ' must have frightened the daylights out of you!")


It was night time already - the daylights were already out of me after the first night Deck Landing (DL).  :-)  While this first one - as I found out later was not perfect, it didn't look so bad after my second NON night DL - the ramp strike. I was thereafter the pilot the sailors could approach to say "Geesus, Sir you scared the bejeezus out of me" and these guys were in the front (as the 'birdies' [FAA] liked to call the bow) or where ever. The admiral (not the captain) was in his cabin directly under the ramp. It had just been refurbished. He invited me up there to congratulate me on surviving and to show me (with good humour) the absolute chaos it had caused in his cabin, as the ceiling (made of painted cork) had fallen in on him. Above the cork (for soundproofing) were many inches of specially strengthened steel by the way. HMAS Melbourne's deck (generally) was remade (before this to be able to operate A4s) and in this area was supported by extra footings to enable it to take the A4 bumps in the landing zone.


I guess I had better days and nights but it was scary just to go out there for the first time. Not really knowing the drill, having a GCA (ground controlled approach) at low level to the 'slot' or 'groove' where we would start to look ahead see the ball and start our approach, monitored then by the LSO (Landing Signal Officer). So I guess the unknown is worse if it is poorly anticipated. However I knew that to be the reverse - complacent - was not an option. Jet pilots probably get addicted to the adrenaline rush. I'm sure most of the young pilots were just "powered by adrenaline" most of the time.


At this point the aim was to have about 20 day catapults (and about 2 times as many Deck Landings - touch and go and arrests) and depending, to then move on to Night DLs, as getting the ship time was not always easy. An RAN pilot does not have his wings confirmed officially until his first Day DL; so it is a big deal, for lots of reasons. My first DLs were onboard HMS Eagle on its farewell tour before being scrapped. But being a sprog newbie I was only allowed to do 4 (hook up) Touch and Gos; but they still counted as day DLs. That was in 02 Aug 71. At that point I had done the required 100 day/night DDLs (Dummy Deck Landings) or the old term for these was MADDLS (Mirror Assisted Dummy Deck Landings).


Just before my first DLs on HMAS Melbourne I did a further 9 night DDLs on the 12th & on the 20th 8 more by day, before doing 2 'hook up' (touch and go's) DLs on Melb for the first time on the 23rd, then I trapped for the first time on the 24th Aug with 6 DLs and 2 catapults (so 2 out of the six were traps, just wanted to make the point that there is no distinction between a hook up or hook down DL - if it is a good one).  My ramp strike did not count as a DL.  :-)


At this time of the year the westerlies are howling and it is freezing at Nowra. Not a good time for a swim. So by 01 Sep I had 38 day DLs and 22 cats by day - the minimum experience (later changed to a larger requirement) to go out by night. As I say the first hook up Touch & Go was good enough; so I guess the second (also hook up) was fortunate in that had the hook been down - I may not have been here to tell you all this. The hook would have tried to rip off some deck plates and then it would have been goodnight.


It is probably obvious that lots of good things occurred to help me survive that night - apart from being silly enough to hit the ramp in the first place. Believe me it was not my intention to do so. Rather than go into details which require lots of explanation I'll just tell the story as it comes.


My memory of this approach as it started to go bad is pretty much burnt into my brain. Probably the most extraordinary aspect was my OBE 'out of body experience' which I did not really "remember" at the time and subsequently was reluctant to speak about to anyone. So if this is describing "having the daylights frightened out of me" then you are correct. :)


As the ball (orange ball between line of green datum lights) started to drop rapidly as I was very close to Touch Down, I could see with my mind's eye that a series of bad events were unfolding. I had started high so had reduced power to get back to the glideslope. This is a pretty average start for a night DL from a Ground Controlled Approach (from the ship). But being inexperienced the juggling then required to get back to the glideslope etc. is the key.


Meanwhile the deck is moving which is not always damped at every point by the gyro mirror. The LSO (a fellow A4 pilot especially trained and experienced) watches the movement of the deck and how it is synchronising with the aircraft approach. The LSO's judgement overrides all others when the aircraft is in the groove. He grades and debriefs us after our DLs.


On this night another LSO from the S2 Tracker squadron was being trained on the A4 approach. He was very experienced on S2s and A4s in the States but had little night experience (with A4s) here. Not that this is an issue but I make the point that any one accident is a combination of factors. In this case I can only take full responsibility fully for not making a better approach; or whatever it would take to keep me away from the ramp. So please don't misconstrue this remark. I also make the point that most likely the weather/sea state was marginal for my experience (as a subsequent report stated), but one has to fly to the conditions and make one's own judgements, this is the nature of military flying.


As the ball started to really accelerate down and I was already powering up to a lot of RPM, as I had decided that it was "a ball of wax" and I was 'out-of-here'. Usually on a reasonable approach that requires a bit of power the LSO will smoothly say "Power". Sometimes when it is urgent he will start shouting rapidly "Power, Power Power" followed rapidly by "Wave Off, Wave Off, Wave Off" (if necessary) which we have to obey - even it if it just a drill (practice Wave off) on an otherwise good approach.

I didn't get the "Power" but I got the "Wave Off" - this was how desperate my situation had become. Meanwhile I'm advancing the throttle to full power a microsecond earlier as I have decided for myself that the crap is in the fan. It takes an eternity for the A4 engine to develop full power (I'm joking) but it depends on the circumstances. Luckily the engine was accelerating already. Literally as the ball started to drop (from the deck moon lighting) I could see that I was going to go below the level of the deck (this surprised me tremendously). I was determined to make the best wave off I could, to get the maximum out of the Optimum Angle of Attack (this is how we land, at the OAOA) to maximise my survival. This is SOP anyway.


So as this was happening - as I have heard people who have been in car accidents - time slowed. My legs and feet really tensed up in anticipation of the bump. People in car crashes often break their legs for this reason. If they could relax then often their legs would not break (I've been told). Anyway I started to OOBE, but still remain in control of the A4. It was as if my legs became the springs which bounced me off the ramp and back into the air. Obviously not true, but this was my experience. A lot was going on at this time. :) [I was not "spotting the deck" and therefore I was not seeing the deck or the mirror at this stage.]


The A4 had gone slightly below the deck [just my impression] (mostly because the deck gave an out of synch pitch up - this happens) but it compounded my problem. If you ever saw or imagine the round down then it is possible to be climbing out of the hole - so to speak - and be going up before striking the ramp. This is more or less what happened but the only real witnesses - the LSOs - were not enjoying the show. Quite rightly they had both hit the safety net off the LSO's station. This is a big loss of face for them and they never let me forget it. Can you imagine jumping off the deck into the black void hoping there was a net below? [They did know that their safety net was there but they cannot see it or the water at night.] I was safe and warm in my A4.  :)

Of course there was an almighty bump as the wheels hit the deck and the U/C flexed so much that the inner brakes gouged the steel deck before the U/C broke, but I was going up at the time - if I had still be going down it would have been all over. Thank goodness for relative motion etc.


The cockpit lit up with just about every warning light except the fire warning light, otherwise I would have ejected. Anyway I was concentrating on doing my best OAO climbout and checking things out. The ship was frazzled enough to direct me "east" to NAS Nowra from "mother", but I was heading west no matter what anyone said. The air controller had just been in the west off Perth so it was their habit to go east to land there.


I had minimum fuel but there was enough to fly at slow speed to NAS. Another A4 was airborne to take my slot for his own DLs. It was our senior pilot Leut Barry Daly, who had a look at the dangling U/C and suggested I keep it down. This is SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) along with carrying the empty drop tanks to use as emergency U/C in such damaged landings. I had thought about this and read about similar landings in our flight safety literature, so catching the wire just past the threshold on Runway 26 back at NAS Nowra, was not a problem. There was no time for foaming the R/W, and as I arrested (with a much longer pullout of the wire, as that is the nature of the wire at NAS), the scariest moment for me occurred. The drop tanks still had fuel vapour in them, which from the outside caused a spectacular WHOOSH of ignition & a brief tail of flames (remember this is night fireworks time) which I saw as a bloody catastrophe in the mirrors and the bright reflections around me.


The throttle was put to OFF and I was out of that cockpit (without needing the customary A4 ladder - because I was on the ground already) running to the edge of the R/W. - Phew. - Spectators said they had never seen anyone run so fast. I agree.

Later I heard about what this event looked like from those on the ship. They said the shower of sparks was amazing, as the steel met steel. I was lucky also that the undercarriage leg stubs did not catch a wire, as that would have been catastrophic. So I was airborne again before the no. 1 wire. You can see on the photo how the black tyre marks start/stop and the gouges of the brake mechanism (inside the wheel) on the steel deck (before it broke along with everything else related).


As mentioned on the ADF site, it was a year before the A4 could be mended with a permanent (acceptable) bend in the airframe. I recall I was supposed to take it on the first (squadron) test flight, but this flight was cancelled due to bad weather and subsequently someone else took it up.


The aftermath:







The image is taken from a reconnaissance RF-8 Crusader approaching a big USN

carrier. In this view you can see the orange ball between the green datum

lights. The orange ball is slightly high but this may be a factor of where

the camera is in relation to the pilot's eyeline. So for the pilot view his

is likely "in the groove" with the orange ball in the middle of the datum

lights. BTW the orange ball moves vertically to show the pilot where he is

in relation to the glideslope. So when the ball is above the line of green

lights - the pilot is above and vice versa.


To add one further note about my own lucky escape. The ramp was moving as

explained, usually it does so in a regular cycle with the sea state. Why I

saw the ramp much higher was that the sea had given it a kick out of cycle,

then by the time I got there to hit it, the ramp was most likely at the

lowest point in its cycle and was probably just going up again. This helped

me survive. There were not many knowledgeable (aircrew & LSOs) witnesses to

confirm this, as quite rightly, they were diving for cover. Ouch. So this is

just me guesstimate. At the time I hit I was not "spotting the deck"

(looking at the deck, as this would have been fatal). But I was

concentrating on climbing at the best OAO, getting the best climb angle and

rate of climb to get out of that black hole (this meant that the deck was no longer in view due to the exaggerated climb angle). So many factors combined

to get me out of my catastrophic approach.





Price rises at the National Archives of Australia:


 A few days ago when I was checking something on the NSS site, I noticed a reference to increased charges for photocopying etc from 1 September 2004:


The most important points are:

Prepayment – will now be required from 1 Sep 2004 for all copy requests – public as well as Australian government agencies.  Online ordering and payment will be available via Record Search for copies of selected records listed on Record Search as available for public access (that is, with an access decision of Open or Open with exception). Online ordering and payment will be available first for the most popular groups of records in the collection and will be extended progressively to the rest of the collection. [Ed note:  no definition supplied of what the most popular records are but I assume they are talking personnel records]

Costs: Standard charges for photocopies of files from the Archives collection will apply from 1 September 2004. Copies of files with fewer than 100 pages will cost $25 (postage included). Copies of files with more than 100 pages will cost $48 (postage included).

Photocopy charges for particular records in the collection will be added, progressively, to the Archives online collection database Record Search. You will be able to order and pay for copies online without the delay of waiting for a photocopy quote.

Copies of WW I and WW II defence service records will cost $25 (postage included). Photocopies of Navy service records, which consist of one or two cards, will continue to be provided without cost.

If you are using the archives in person - photocopies of individual pages identified and ordered by researchers in the reading room will continue to be available for 50 cents per page. Where copies of whole files are ordered the standard charges will apply.

Iron Range Airfield -Lockhart River


Recently one of the members of the ADF Serials Team was contacted by the police at Lockhart River who are trying to establish a war memorial at the Iron Range airfield and are in need of assistance with the research.  Information being sought includes:

Any data accumulated with assist with the creation of the war memorial and ultimately go into the local library eg possibly as wall with various plaques, photos etc and a couple of flag poles.  There is currently no suitable venue for Anzac Day ceremonies so the project is of some importance to the local community.


If you are able to assist, please use the feedback link and we will pass anything on:


Can you help?


History of Gove:  Phil Herdman has been writing a WW11 history of Gove for last 25 years & has a couple of queries:


AADR Article on the Pika:  A member of the ADF Serials team is looking for a copy of an article on the Pika in the AADR (Australian Aviation & Defence Review) Dec 1981 edition.  Apparently there was also one published in Dec 1980’s edition as well.


Anson VH-CAB:  Phil Vabre is trying to track down some info on an Anson which became VH-CAB with DCA in 1954. I have its RAF serial as W2616 and another ident as VH-BBT. This aircraft doesn't seem to appear on your Anson page and I'm wondering if you are able to shed any light on its history?


RAAF Ubon Association:  Alan Wilson is seeking information on the next of kin for PLTOFF M McGrath who was killed when Sabre A94-986 from 79 Sqn stalled and crashed on base circuit at Ubon, Thailand on 3 Jan 1968.  A three year old girl, Nuan, was killed by the aircraft or wreckage.  The Association is trying to get the service recorded on the walls at the Aust War Memorial.


If you can assist, please use the feedback line below:





Recently K J Coward submitted the following information via the updates page on the incident involving Hudson   A16--68

“I do not know how much your organisation knows of this fatality, but what I now know for what it is worth.. The death roll in this crash

was eight though some of the personnel were not crew members and were as follows:

F/O JJ Broderick 409022

F/Lt R W Shore 411199

LAC J M Gleeson 62705

Cpl J Mc Allen 36531

LAC N A Chamberlain 15786

CPL R H McIlroy 35228

LAC FF Smith 64697

ACW  N M Ralph 109913


The story goes that it was a joy flight (pre-Xmas) as the crew and

craft were on leave from tour of  duty in the islands.  All personnel are buried at Richmond Air base cemetery and  a  memorial service was held on 18-12-1994 where a stone was laid to their memory..


Dean Norman was able to fill in a lot of the details:

The aircraft arrived at No.2 Aircraft Depot on 12 Aug 44 to have a 240 hourly inspection on the airframe. All inspections were completed on 17 Dec 44 and the aircraft was test flown by FLTLT Shore at 1500hrs on 18 Dec 44.  As a result of this flight several defects were noted and logged which were rectified by 19 Dec 44.


Initially scheduled for 0900 hrs in the morning on 20 Dec 44 FLTLT Shore lined up and ran the engines testing for any drop in

revs after which he turned the aircraft into the wind and commenced a take off. Approximately one quarter of the way along he closed the throttles and returned to the starting point. Lining back up again he again ran the engines and attempted a second take off but again closed the throttles then taxied the aircraft back to the hangers and informed the duty crew that he could not get full take off revs.


The engines were run by the ground crew to attempt to locate the problem but did not detect any. This was performed on several occasions where the engines were run and on all occasions everything appeared to function normally. Later that day FLTLT Shore was contacted and asked to run the engine and after several tests, opening and closing the throttles he did not find any faults and was satisfied.


When preparing for the afternoon test flight ACW Ralph sought and gained authority from her superiors to participate in the flight. LAC Chamberlain was also a passenger as it was common for Section Warrant Officers to request that one member from each trade mustering be taken on flights if possible. Approximately 10 minutes into the flight, which involved several circuits, the aircraft was making a landing approach from the west. They never made it and the aircraft came down on Dight Street missing a house that still stands today.


And more on Hudson’s

Paul Padley has researched the loss of Hudson A16-162 and published an account of this accident in 1997.  Paul is currently developing a home page which includes the book.  You can view this information at


Antonov spotting:  Mike Condon sent in the following info:

Waddling its way into Auckland from Dubai and Kuala Lumpur in the late evening of 06July was Antonov 124 UR-82027 (19530502288) carrying Royal New Zealand Navy Seasprite NZ3605 (NZ05).  The Seasprite had suffered damage back on 22May onboard the frigate HMNZS Te Mana, stationed in the Gulf of Oman as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.   Damage to the structure of the Seasprite occurred following significant ground resonance vibration during a routine engine run. A replacement Seasprite, NZ3602 (NZ02), departed on board the Antonov 06July for Dubai via Kuala Lumpur.  Date of incident supplied by RNZN website.  All other data by Mike.


Update from Nowra:

Bob Geale reports that helicopter UH-1D 66-16290 has arrived at the museum on  Friday and is now being re-assembled  to be placed on display with the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam  display . A number of RAN pilots flew this bird in Vietnam.


Paul Jones submitted this feedback:  I am a modeller of flight sim aircraft and I wish to thank you for the information at this site which I have used for several of my model aircraft. RAAF Wirraway, Boomerang and Wellington.


This is a great website, which is very informative.  For someone who lives in a part of the world where remains of your wrecks form a part of our daily lives, its' good to know something about the planes.  At this point in time, I am enquiring if there are any records from the 75th & 76th squadrons of a plane that had a wing shot off during the Battle of Milne Bay and did a beach landing near Samarai, in 1942.According to the local accounts this plane was said to have been flown by 2 American black pilots who escaped unhurt, after setting fire to the plane.  I find this difficult to ascertain, considering the only Americans in Milne Bay at that time were associated with the 43rd Engineering Battalion who built strips No 1 & 2.

Could you verify please.


On this day


4 Aug 90         F-18A A21-42 75SQN crashed near Katherine, NT after a mid air collision with A21-29 at about 30,000 ft.  It is believed that WGCDR Fox died instantly as a result of the collision, which saw the outer portion of A21-29’s port wing flown by FLGOFF David Smith slice through the forward fuselage of A21-42. FLGOFF Smith was able to land safely at Tindal, however, WGCDR Fox’s aircraft crashed about 35 kms from Katherine at a place ironically called Hornet Hill. 

7 Aug 44         Loss of Spitfire LF.IXE PL441 453 Sqn.  It is believed that the aircraft was hit by flak when attacking a convoy.  Pilot FLGOFF E.C. Gates 409103 killed.

11 Aug 70       Loss of Macchi A7-039 2FTS.  Aircraft lost when the canopy separated in flight on landing approach at Gin Gin WA.  Crew:  FLTLT P. Davies and CDTAC L. Van Prooije killed.

16 Aug 1918   AFC Squadrons in raid on Somme

10 Aug 38       Anson Mk 1 A4-29 2SQN was one of five aircraft on a navigational exercise that had been recalled due the worsening weather conditions.   The Anson, flying in low cloud, slammed into a hill called Arthur’s Seat, near Dromana Victoria.  The crew:

SGT John Gillespie (Pilot), PLTOFF Robert Symonds (Nav), AC1 Kenneth McKerrow (Radio Op), AC1 Robert Mawson (Engineer) were killed.  A passenger, AC1 James Glover who was riding as a passenger in the rear turret survived the crash.

AC1 Robert Mawson was the nephew of the great Antarctic explorer, Sir Douglas Mawson.


16 Aug 43       Spitfire A58-160 serving with 2OTU crashed while shadow shooting over Lake Victoria.  The body of the pilot SGT D.J. Stokes 437015, was recovered three days later.  Stokes, 18 at the time of the accident, was the youngest pilot to die with 2OTU.

19 Aug 81       Loss of Iroquois A2-1023 HQWLM    .  Crashed near Williamtown after the failure of the tail rotor drive. One of the tail rotor pitch control cables fouled the tail rotor drive shaft. This caused the failure of the tail rotor drive and ended when the main rotor blades separated.  Crew: SQNLDR Derek Knight (Pilot), FLTLT Adrian Bryant (Co-Pilot) and             SGT Brian Wilson (crewman) killed.


26 Aug 1942   RAAF Sqns 75, 76, 30, 32 in action at Milne Bay, Kokoda and Buna


Thank you to Dean and his 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



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