given the out of sequence registration G-AEKB
in honour of the supportive Minister for Defence, Eric Kendall
First Engine runs,
launched into Botany Bay for the first time on 7 July. At this
stage the Widgeon was a seaplane, only able to take off and land
on water – the removable wheels were only suitable for launching
and ground handling.,
The first attempt at a take-off from Botany Bay was made during
the morning of 8 July, powered by a 240 hp (180 kW) Siddeley
Puma engine, but further attempts were delayed until the
afternoon because the water was too rough.
At 3:30pm the aircraft was christened by Mrs. Wackett.
There were rain storms reported in the area and during an
attempted take-off in the afternoon, the Widgeon was observed to
"swerve suddenly and hit a sandbank". A subsequent attempt ended
in disaster when a heavy swell caused the aircraft to become
airborne too early and
nose-diving into the bay.
The four occupants, Squadron Leader Wackett, Colonel H.
Brinsmead (Controller of Civil Aviation), Sergeant Harry Becker
and Sergeant T.L. "Jack" Cropp did not suffer any injuries.
Upon first inspection, Col. Brinsmead suggested it would take
around two weeks to repair the damage to the aircraft.
Repairs actually took much longer and modifications to improve
the craft's handling were also made including a deeper step
further aft, cutting away the side windscreens and new
centre-section tanks faired into the airfoil instead of above
03/12/1925 First successful flight from Botany Bay piloted by
Squadron Leader Wackett, lasting ten minutes and reaching a
height around 400 ft (120 m).
Following a series of trials carried out by the Civil Aviation
Branch, it was agreed that the Widgeon could be tested by the
RAAF to assess its suitability as a training aircraft.
Prior to its hand-over in June 1927 another series of
modifications were carried out to convert the Widgeon for
amphibious operation (able to land and take off from
both water and land). These included the addition of retractable
landing gear, tail skid, dual controls, extra fuel tanks, an
increase in dihedral from 3.5° to 4.75°, new deeper floats with
less aileron interference, a wider windscreen, a gun-mount above
the rear cabin entry, cabin side windows below the wing and a
more powerful 300 hp (220 kW)
??/04/1926 The Civil Aviation Branch completed tests on the
Widgeon I and following a request from the RAAF it was converted
to amphibious operation.
??/04/1927 Provided an escort to the Duke and Duchess of York as
they left Sydney Harbour aboard HMS Renown. Bad weather on the
return required a landing at Rose Bay where the aircraft rode
out stormy weather for three days on a mooring. After this an
attempt was made to take off at Rose Bay, but one wing was
immersed in water and damaged. The aircraft had to be dismantled
and returned to Randwick by truck.
A request was made to have the Widgeon I allotted to No. 101
Flight RAAF. The unit was carrying out a survey of the Great
Barrier Reef, and it was proposed to test the Widgeon I under
13/02/1928 The Widgeon was instead allotted to No. 1 Flying
Training School, where it would be assessed for suitability as a
flying-boat training aircraft. The delivery flight from Mascot
to RAAF Point Cook took five-and-a-half hours non-stop, with
fuel fed from tins into the fuselage tank then pumped to the
Widgeon I was then used intermittently for flying training,
??/10/1928 The Minster for Defence recommended that the Widgeon
I be struck off strength since the cost of extensive overhaul
and repairs could not be justified.
Circa 17/02/1928 Airframe burnt at Point Cook, after logging 99
hours of flying time.
16/02/1928 Taxiing tests of the Widgeon II were commenced at
21/02/1928 First Flight
following a one-day delay due to engine problems.
Following an extended flight from Melbourne
and back in 1928 to accompany flying boats of the RAF Far East
Flight, a final series of improvements were made to the Wackett
II. These included the addition of automatic wing
edge slats, a water rudder, an exhaust manifold ring,
and metal rear-cabin structure; and the forward hull beam was
increased by adding blisters to extend the chines.
??/02/1928 The Air Board requested the use of the Widgeon II for
RAAF trials with a positive response.
Prior to its delivery to the RAAF, the Widgeon II flew in the
Sydney Aerial Derby (with floats removed) and took third place
in a field of 23 aircraft in the speed section at an average of
109 mph over a course of 42 miles.
13/04/1928 Arrived at Point Cook and was handed over to the RAAF
after flying from Mascot.
??/05/1928 Flew from Melbourne to Darwin with the intention of
flying to Singapore to rendezvous with the Supermarine
Southampton flying boats of the Royal Air Force Far East Flight
for the Australian leg of their "great flying-boat cruise".
However the Widgeon II was not able to take off from Darwin on
its first leg en route to Singapore due to its heavy load and
the hot tropical conditions.
01/06/1928 Wackett flew the Widgeon II along the coast to Broome
and met the Southamptons there. The Widgeon then accompanied the
RAF Southamptons all the way to Melbourne, with stops at Port
Hedland, Carnarvon, Perth, Ceduna and Adelaide.
The arrival of the five flying boats in Melbourne was a major
event, with the pilots of each aircraft taken to St. Kilda pier
to be greeted by the Minister of Defence, the Victorian Premier
and the Lord-Mayor of Melbourne, among other dignitaries.
Following the reception the aircraft took off and flew to Point
The Widgeon II returned to Mascot a week laterfor modifications
and then took part in aerial races at Penrith in January 1929.
31/03/1929 Charles Kingsford Smith made a forced landing about
220 miles WSW of Wyndham, Western Australia, an incident that
became known as the Coffee Royal Affair. A number of aircraft
were requested to conduct an aerial search for the missing
airman and his crew and the Widgeon II, which had been out of
commission for several months due to modifications to enable
trials aboard HMAS Albatross, was prepared for the long flight
06/04/1929 Wackett took off from Richmond air base but returned
after the Widgeon II was not able to climb sufficiently.
??/07/1929 Embarked on HMAS Albatross for its voyage of the New
Guinea area to conduct trials under tropical conditions.
??/08/1929 After arriving back in Melbourne aboard the Albatross
the aircraft was handed over to the Civil Air Board.
??/10/1929 No. 1 Flight Training School at Point Cook was
requested to determine the suitability of the Widgeon II for
06/01/1930 Crashed into Port Phillip Bay off Point Cook, killing
all three occupants including Captain Hugh Grosvenor, who was
the heir of Lord Stalbridge and had been planning a flight from
Australia to England.