ADF Serials Newsletter

For those interested in Australian Military Aircraft History and Serials

ã 2003

September 2003

In this issue:


Editor’s blurb:

Hi Everyone. Well, spring must be upon us! The air around my place (near the Blue Mountains) is full of smoke from back burning and the forecasters are again sounding pessimistic about this year’s bushfire season. Much as I love "Georgia Peach", "the Incredible Hulk" and "Elvis" and appreciate the fine work that they do (they are simply amazing to watch) I hope they aren’t permanent fixtures in the air above my place as they have been in the past two summers.

This month’s newsletter features Army aviation with the launch of a separate page on the ADF-Serials website, the history of A2-445 and a bio on Len Avery who has been a tremendously hard worker in chronicling the history of Army Aviation.

We are looking for a name for the newsletter – there are a few suggestions in the newsletter but feel free to submit names for consideration.

Gordon B has provided some updates on his popular P-40 articles. As more information has come to light, he has been able to update and amend previous information – the P-40’s are a popular topic and generate a lot of debate and research which augers well for future articles. Gordon has also written a piece on missing Spitfires!

We also feature Tiger Moths in New Zealand by Ivan and some questions posed by Graham as well.

We welcome another researcher to the team – Phil Herdman whose interests lie in Top End aviation.

Till next month,



Welcome to Phil Herdman

The ADF-Serials group would like to welcome a new researcher to the group. Phil Herdman’s interests lie in the Top End (Northern Territory for overseas readers), which was an important base for aircraft during WW2 and of course, is home to the Hornets at RAAF Tindal. Welcome aboard, Phil!


Website Updates:

On the morning of the 19th of August the ISP that hosts our website became the victim of a denial of service attack. In simple terms many PC's were forcing the network offline, in this case for 10 and a half hours. We apologise for any inconvenience that might have occurred.

While it can’t be stopped it can be minimised by everyone installing and keeping up to date anti-virus and firewall software.

After consultation between the admin group, it was decided to add a front page for Army Aviation in line with that already online for Navy Aviation. It is important to acknowledge the Army and Navy’s commitment to Australian military aviation.

Grahame and Jose continue to investigate crash sites and are currently working on pages concerning an Anson and Dakota. Please check the website during the month for progress on these pages.

Images: There are now almost 1000 images on our aircraft pages. Thank you to everyone that has assisted us with images. We are always looking for more!

Email Groups: There are a number of email groups that are hosted by the adf-serials page:

NEI Aircraft – Moderator Jos Heyman "for the research and discussion of NEI aircraft operated by the ADF. This group is intended to cover all periods and services."

Australian Army Aircraft – Moderator Len Avery "for the research and discussion of all aircraft which have served the Australian Army."

ADF-UK - Moderator Graham Wickens "for the research and discussion of UK aircraft operated by the ADF. This group is intended to cover all periods and services.

Please check out the home page for more details on the email groups:


What’s in a Name – Suggestions for a new name for the newsletter

We are currently looking for a new name for the newsletter. Suggestions to date have been:

Any suggestions appreciated. If you have a name that you would like considered please use our feedback page:

P40E/E-1 Operations in Australia Part 4 Updates –Gordon B

I must say that new information that has come to light has caused some anxiety and high blood pressure in my dealings with the subject of the second P40E Convoy to Australia. More importantly, it has shed new light and understanding of the assembly of the four later Provisional Squadrons that has lain buried for some 61 years.

What does this all mean? Well, I stated that there were only 55 P40E’s in the 2nd Convoy and had worked out the serials, or so I thought.

I was wrong on a small number of diverted Russian Defence Aid P40E’s.

Two things, there was a second ship that arrived on that day (15/01/42), but it wasn’t unloaded till three to four days later. The total number of P40Es was 125.

What impact does this have? Well, after the numerous corrections that will be published in the next ADF Newsletter in November, you will realise that even researchers not unlike myself can make mistakes in gigantic proportions. But we have big hearts and like all, strive to get the real story and facts. Therefore you will see that two little pieces of information overlooked will have both grave but equally, astonishing results. The unknown SS Mormacsun shipload and no "Left" on 10 P40E’s that were off 31/10/44 had us confounded. But in correcting this error, the whole 125 P40E’s of the second Convoy came to light for the first time in sixty-one years. Interestingly it had a desired follow-on effect in confirming A29-64 and A29-68 identities. The re-written Part Four will be seen in the November Newsletter.

First natural metal P40 in RAAF Service, another error?

In an earlier article I mentioned that the first P40N "ala" natural was A29-415. Thank goodness Gordon C in his usual thorough checking trim had said this was difficult to believe due to its operational record. He was right, as usual.

Stark reality, I had made a "typo"!!!. Oh no!!!

That aircraft that I was referring to, is in fact A29-418, but had scribed down my notes rather illegible even for my own good. 8’s look like 5’s in the dim of night.

My apologies Gordon C and Jan. Will proof read more in future!

Let’s hope in future we keep the errors at a low level, like zero.

Editor’s note: No apologies needed Gordon, the P-40 articles have been popular and generated a lot of interest in this subject – great for researchers because it allows others to fill in those elusive pieces.



Sabre Update – Martin Edwards

Martin feels that the identity of the Sabres owned by Lynette Zuccoli needs to be clarified as there is conflicting information.

356 is referred to in all the above sites as being in storage (this a/c apparently was an ex RMAF training aid). My personal opinion is that the complete a/c on display is 954. Any ideas?

Martin would be happy to hear from anyone that can help solve this puzzle. If you can provide any additional details, please use our feedback page:



Our ADF Serials Team – Len Avery (aka Big Bird)

First a brief background on myself. I joined Army Aviation back in March 1968 as an airframe fitter and subsequently served 20 years with most of the Army Aviation Units although I never went to Townsville, PNG or Malaya.

I served in Vietnam with 161 (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight in 1970/71. That unit operated Cessna 180, Pilatus Porter, Cessna O1-G Bird Dog (on loan from US Army), Bell 47 Sioux and Bell 206b-1 Kiowa helicopters, on loan from the US Army. Whilst in Vietnam, 161 (Indep) Recce Flt, flew 71,648 hours and 87,991 sorties. Fourteen of our pilots were awarded DFC's for their service

in Vietnam, including two New Zealand rotary wing pilots who were posted to

161 (Indep) Recce Flt.

Tragically we lost three of our pilots in Vietnam when they were shot down and killed. George Constable was flying a US Army OI-G Bird Dog while Barry Donald and Alan Jellie were flying a Pilatus Porter, when they were shot down.

In the mid 1980's I became actively involved in the preservation of some of our Army Aviation's aircraft and carried that forward into the creation of the Museum of Australian Army Aviation (MAAF) at Oakey QLD, which is approximately 30km west of where I live in Toowoomba.

In 1989 I was forced to retire due to illness and I soldiered on for three years working as the maintenance manager at the MAAF. However, I had to give that job away as my health and

mobility deteriorated.

In 1987 following the 'Welcome Home Parade' in Sydney I began working on the preservation of the history of 161 (Indep) Recce Flt in Vietnam and that work has expanded to include projects covering Army Aviation deployment and operations in numerous other locations.

One of the projects I am currently working on is the detailed history of every aircraft that we took to Vietnam. I have been assisted in this project by the pilots who served in Vietnam with 161 (Indep) Recce Flt, including the four New Zealand pilots who were posted to the Flight.

Due to my long and ongoing association with members of the Army Aviation Corps I am currently working on the history of the current aircraft operated by Army Aviation which includes Kiowa, Iroquois, Blackhawk, Chinook, King Air and Twin Otters.

In recent times I have been working with Darren providing history and images of a number of our aircraft, especially those that we had in Vietnam.

Many people don't associate Army with aviation however Army Aviation has been operational since 1960 and in that time has operated more than 256 aircraft.

In recent times Army Aviation completed operations in East Timor with the Kiowa's where they flew 10,00 hours, Bougainville, and the Middle East where they deployed two Chinooks. Currently they have Blackhawks in East Timor and they will be there until at least mid 2004 and we have Iroquois in the Solomon Islands.

Army Aviation continues to expand and the future will see the introduction of the attack helicopter, Tiger, and eventually a replacement for the Kiowa and Iroquois.

So the past, present and future of Army Aviation and the aircraft they operate is one of significant history which deserves preservation and presentation for all to see.

I will endeavour to expand the history of our Army Aviation aircraft wherever I can and will welcome any assistance anyone can provide.

If anyone has any questions regarding Army Aviation please ask. No promises that I have the answers but I will endeavour to seek out the answers.

Len’s expertise in army aviation adds an additional dimension to the ADF serials website, and already Len and the 161 Recce Association members have been of valuable assistance! Len is also the moderator of the Army Aircraft Group "for the research and discussion of all aircraft which have served the Australian Army."


If you would like to find out more about Army Aviation, try the following websites:

The Possums of Vietnam – 161 Recce Association

Museum of Australian Army Aviation (MAAF)


Iroquois A2-455 History – Len Avery

Iroquois A2-455, UH-1H.

USAF. Serial – 70-15845

Construction Number – 12455


This aircraft was delivered to the RAAF on 20 June 1971.

Delivered direct to South Vietnam for operations with 9 Sqn during 1971.

9 Sqn flew its final Vietnam combat mission on 19 Nov 71 and the remaining aircraft were flown onto HMAS Sydney for the return voyage to Australia departing on 08 Dec 71. Arriving at their new base at Amberley Qld, two weeks later.


Four years after arriving back at Richmond 35 Squadron moved to Townsville where, early in 1977, four Bell UH-1 Iroquois joined its three Caribou. 35 Sqn thus became the only RAAF Squadron to operate a combination of fixed and rotary wing aircraft.

With its mixed fleet of aircraft, 35 Sqn undertook Army Tactical Support Tasks and also various activities in support of the civilian population, such as search and rescue operations, medical evacuations and flood relief.

In November 1986, 35 Squadron began gunship operations in support of the Australian Army.

One year later, the unit received a large increase in strength when it took over all of 9 Sqn’s Iroquois pending that unit’s re-equipment with Black Hawks. 35 Sqn continued its mixed rotary/fixed wing operations until 5 Dec 89 when the Iroquois were transferred to Army control.


24 Aug 90

This aircraft was transferred from HQ RAAF Base Amberley to, the Australian Army Aviation Corps for operations with 171 Sqn, Oakey.

22 Nov 90

Allotted to 3AD, RAAF Base Amberley.

19 Feb 91

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

17 Oct 91

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

10 Mar 92

Allotted to Oakey Logistic Battalion.

12 Jun 92

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

07 Apr 93

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for R3 Service.

22 May 93

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

14 Jun 95

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for R3 Service.

09 Aug 95

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

13 Sep 96

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

13 Jun 97

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

11 Dec 97

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for major service.

24 Feb 98

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

11 Dec 98

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for R3 Service.

05 Feb 99

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

28 Jun 99

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

10 Dec 99

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for R3 Service.


07 Mar 00

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

Date U/K

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for R3 Service.

03 Sep 01

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

26 Sep 01

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for major service.

12 Nov 01

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

18 Feb 03

Allotted to Hunter Aviation at Archerfield for major service.

31 Mar 03

Allotted to 171 Sqn, Oakey.

08 Jul 03

Allotted to School of Army Aviation, Oakey, as training aircraft.

13 Aug 03

In service with School of Army Aviation, Oakey.


  1. The RAAF in Vietnam. Australian Air Involvement in the Vietnam War 1962-1975.
  2. By Chris Coulthard-Clark.

  3. Mission Vietnam. Royal Australian Air Force Operations 1964-1972.

By George Odgers.

3. Vampire, Macchi and Iroquois in Australia Service.

By Stewart Wilson.

4. Flying Squadrons of the Australian Defence Force.

By Steve Eather.


Identifying this Image – Bob Livingstone

Recently Bob asked if anyone in the group could identify the Iroquois in the photograph taken at Vung Tau in June 1970.

Image of A2-110


Len Avery responded with the following:


Whilst working on the current Iroquois History I found a note in the book title Vampire, Macchi and Iroquois in Australian Service by Stewart Wilson. It reads as follows:


"In May 1970, A2-110 autorotated onto mudflats near the base and was almost completely immersed in salt water before being lifted out by an American Chinook before too much damage was done".


The photo was obviously taken near Vung Tau because 'Radar Hill' can be seen, top right hand corner of the photo.


So it looks like the aircraft in the photo is A2-110.


The aircraft was obviously repaired as there are other references made to the aircraft in service in 1971 involving a 1.7 metre snake and when the aircraft was "severely damaged when a round carried away a large portion of the left hand fuselage tailboom attachment. The aircraft was recovered by Chinook and the squadron's ground crews set to work, designing and manufacturing a structural repair".


I'm not sure if the aircraft is currently at the School of Army Aviation or at 171 Sqn, I suspect the later.


Watch this space for more info on A2-110.

If anyone has any additional information, please use our feedback page:


Martin Edwards – Thank you from the Team

The ADF Serials team would like to thank Martin for the images he has contributed to the pages over the past few months which totalled over 900 megabytes. Martin’s contributions have greatly enhanced the aircraft pages!


On This Day ….

4/5 September 1943 Raids on Gasmata by RAAF and US aircraft. On 4 September one Beaufort and its crew was lost during the daylight raid:

A9-204 F/Off Thomas Hessey Allanson (415106), pilot, F/Off Mervyn Noel Keehn (405193) observer, and F/Sgts Keith Grieve (4-5850) and Denis Hamlin Webb (405458) WAGS (No 7 Beaufort Course).

The raid was repeated on the following morning at the same time, something that has remained a bone of contention with surviving Beaufort crew. This time three Beaufort aircraft and their crews were lost:

A9-183 F/Off Robert Barclay Anderson (409070) pilot, F/Sgt Jeffrey Allan Heath (412440) observer, and F/Sgts Lawrence Vincent McMahon (409936) and Robert Harrison (410034) WAGS.

A9-186 W/O Clement Batstone Wiggins (405335) pilot, W/O Russell Henry Grigg (405284) Observer and F/Sgts Albert Becker (408343) and Gordon Lewis Hamilton (414022) WAGS (No 7 Beaufort Course).

A9-374 F/L Roy Herbert Woollacott (407144) pilot, F/Sgt James Albert Sugg (416085) observer and F/Sgts Harley Joseph Williams (408311) and William Theodore Pedler (416608) WAGS (No 7 Beaufort Course).

When researching No 7 Beaufort course, I came across the following information on F/L Roy Woollacott. He originally rejoined the RAAF as an observer trainee, remustered to Wireless Air Gunner (WAG) and then less than 2 months later, completed a Moth Minor course at Central Flying School (Camden, NSW) and was appointed as an instructor all in the space of 6 months! After completing a period of time as an instructor, he then posted to No 7 Beaufort Course. Woollacott had taken place in the raid on the previous day and one of his WAGs was injured, and was replaced by F/Sgt Pedler. During the raid on 5 September 1943, while attacking Gasmata strip in a shallow dive from 3,000 ft the Japanese opened up with a heavy box barrage and hit the Beaufort. Although in flames Woollacott pressed on with his attack and his bombs exploded on the runway. Unfortunately the aircraft crashed just past the strip killing all on board. Pedler was killed on his first operational sortie. For his part in the Gasmata raids, Woollacott was Mentioned in Dispatches (MID).


Spitfires to Australia, the Missing 1942 Shipment of the SS Nigertown (revised 11/9/03)

Gordon B

The P40E represented the first modern massed produced fighter that the RAAF had up to March 1942 to carry the fight to the then relentless onslaught by the Japanese. As events had shown, tactics aside, the aircraft had an inferior performance to the standard Japanese fighter of the period, the A6M "Zero". As an interceptor fighter, it lacked the performance to attain a height advantage as early warning was insufficiently matched.

Representation was made for P40 aircraft, in addition to the United States, to Britain for the supply of interceptor fighter aircraft to help in the defence of Australia. These requests to Britain continued for nearly three months until the reply from the External Affairs Officer (UK Government) in London came by cablegram on the 28th May 1942.

With regard to my suggestion that the Government (UK) should adopt an emergency plan for the air reinforcement, the Prime Minister (Winston Churchill) has decided to send a special detachment of three fully equipped Spitfire Squadrons from the United Kingdom to Australia in the near future. Two will be RAAF Squadrons (No 452 and 457) and one a RAF Squadron No 54.

The cablegram further said: These are the only Australian Spitfire Squadrons in this country and they have gained a tremendous reputation. Truscott who is now in Australia was attached to one. The Prime Minister (Churchill) himself initiated the scheme of sending three squadrons as a wing and insisted that a first class RAF Squadron should be instructed "to keep the flag flying".

Surprisingly Truscott never again flew a Spitfire in combat; he stayed with 76Sqn flying P40's until his death in one in 1943.

Prior to their June 1942 embarkation for Australia, these squadrons had become at one time or another the top-scoring Spitfire squadrons in the UK. Both 452Sqn and 457Sqn had started Spitfire operations in April and June 1941 respectively on Mark 1As, moving later to Mark 2s and eventually Mark Vs. Their early Spitfire operations will be told in a much later Newsletter.

With the embarkation at Liverpool on 19 June 1942, the three Squadrons started their journey halfway around the world on the SS Stirling Castle with six crated Spitfires MkVc (T).

6 Spitfire MkVc on the SS Sterling Castle 19/06/42 that arrived in Australia BR386, 462, 471, 568, 570, 572. Later to become A58-22, 23, 25, 56, 57 and 58

Included in the first shipment were another 42 Spitfires MkVc (T) on the SS Nigertown. These were earmarked to be the initial equipment of the three squadrons but they were never to grace the skies of Australia. They were diverted enroute to Takoradi, Ghana, where they were assembled and flown to Egypt via the African Ferry Route. They were needed to replace losses suffered by the Desert Airforce at that time. Another shipment was sent later to replace that diversion.

Missing 42 Spitfire MkVc on the SS Nigertown 20/06/42 that were diverted to Takoradi, Ghana. BR234, 235,361, 389, 390, 392, 393, 466, 467, 469, 470, 472, 473, 474, 475, 476, 477, 478, 479, 481, 483, 487, 491, 492, 494, 515, 516, 517, 518, 519, 520, 521, 522, 523, 524, 526, 573, 576, 580, 582, 583, 586.

Myth or fact? Did Britain forsake us?

There has been a lot said during and since the war about this period. Many say that when help was needed, Australia had to look towards America for its aircraft. While this statement is true in most respects, especially numbers, I must point out that the majority of P40E fighter aircraft given were British Purchasing Commission ordered aircraft. The early P40E requests in January and February 1942 were made for 250 such aircraft, with Britain guaranteeing the supply of 125 from their allocations, providing that the USAAF matched that request with 125 from their allocations.

In the end, events took over and we eventually got an allocation of 150 P40E/E-1s. Top ups of another 15 or so came. One day I'll look into the ratio of USAAF P40E-CUs and BPC RAF P40E-1-CUs to decide if they were in fact split.

For a country like Britain fighting and waging several wars on various fronts at a time of numerous setbacks (Malta, Libya, Burma, UK bombing and the Dieppe raid), to supply their best in such a dark era was a selfless act. What's more surprising, they supplied the Spitfires "free of charge".

In a future article, I'll look at the Presentation Spitfires flown by Australian Squadrons.

Tiger Moths – Graham Wickens

Graham Wickens needs help with the following:

Subject: Original c/n against re-build c/n

Comments: Is it possible to tie-up rebuild c/ns with original c/ns on ADF Tiger Moths? e.g. VH-UVI /T124 VH-BKP /T128 VH-HKG /T133 VH-AYI /T135 N176TM /T176 VH-ART /T185 VH-BXF /T186 VH-SEC /T245 VH-ATJ /T253 VH-GLG /T260 VH-AZF /T273 VH-GWG /T285 VH-AOU /T287 VH-RTA /T291 VH-SNR /T314 VH-AZR /T321 VH-BVZ /T329.

Also a query from Graham :

Comments: Another Australian Site gives a totally different listing for the A17- Tiger Moth. (see ). The question is, who is correct?

Please contact Graham via the feedback page:


Tiger Moths in New Zealand – Ivan Prince

Extracts from a letter to the Editor of the AHSNZ Journal from Ken Meehan who was an engineer with Aircraft Service NZ Ltd in the early 1950s and was involved with the rebuilding of a number of Tiger Moths for the topdressing industry in New Zealand.

"On ZK-BDA and ZK-BDG - these were built from spare parts bought from Australia, enough pieces to build 12 complete aircraft being obtained. They were mostly in RAAF markings and colours, but odd components carried VH-marks as well. ZK-BDA utilised the fuselage of A17-105, subsequently crashing, and was then rebuilt with the fuselage of A17-109. It crashed again and the wreck was then bought by Northern Aviation Ltd. It lay in the Auckland Aero Club hangar, and there it was robbed of parts, so I think we can safely say that it was written off in 1955.

ZK-BDG was fabricated with the wrecked fuselage of ZK-BDA, which in turn was ex A17-105. Does anyone know where the previous identities of VH-AXP and VH-BDR came from? The fuselages were still in RAAF markings, so these registrations may have been allotments only by the Australian DCA. All the bits and pieces were bought from Kingsford-Smith Aviation Pty Ltd. Airframes were kept as spares and when a Tiger crashed, the damaged parts were replaced from stock, to be reissued again when the occasion arose. Again this is only the Aircraft Service NZ Ltd story - what about the other firms who have done the same sort of thing?"

Ken then supplies a list of Tigers converted by the company.

Regn. Serial of fuselage(s) used for rebuild

ZK-AIE A17-330 and A17-74


ZK-AQD A17-330 but refer ZK-AIE above


ZK-AUD A17 ???

ZK-AUT ZK-AUD but refer ZK-AUD above

ZK-AWG ZK-ASN but refer above

ZK-BAZ ZK-ASG and rear fuselage of ZK-AIO

ZK-BCO A17-158 and NZ834.

Note that some of the above mysteries have been sorted out over the last 45 years and definitives are now in place for most of the aircraft, or are they really definitives after all ?

Those interested in NZ serials should check out the NZ page as Ivan has recently added some images.


Some recent feedback we have received:

Stephen Pye emailed us to say:

I have only just discovered your website and am very impressed. I have a large library of Navy FAA photos, both from my time in the FAA in the '70s and from archival photos I obtained from the photographic section at that time. Most are now in digital format and I would be happy to share them with you for publishing /display on this site. Please advise if interested. [The group are always interested in obtaining additional images or information. Ed]

Paul Carpenter emailed us with the following information:

Just some extra info related to your explanation of A in an aircraft serial. for example a P-3C Orion is listed as A9-758 the full application code for this aircraft is A09C Aircraft 09 (Orion) C Model the P3-Orion simulator has an application code of S09C S for simulator so I would suggest that Just as S stands for simulator A stands for Aircraft. (Not Airforce or Army) On another point, CFS 14 (A778) had the inscription Presented by Alfred Muller Simpson Parkside S.A. hand painted on the front of the crew 'nacelle'. [Thanks Paul, its always good to receive additional information. Ed]