Australian & New Zealand Military Aircraft Serials & History

RAAF Wackett Widgeon I & II

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Wackett Widgeon Image Gallery

RAAF Serial c/n Type Aircraft History
G-AEKB ? Widgeon I given the out of sequence registration G-AEKB in honour of the supportive Minister for Defence, Eric Kendall Bowden,
/06/1925 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 stall, 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 the wings.
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) ADC Nimbus engine.
??/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 operational conditions.
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 wing tank.
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.

Highlight for Album: Wackett Widgeon I

? ? Widgeon II

16/02/1928 Taxiing tests of the Widgeon II were commenced at Mascot aerodrome.
21/02/1928  First Flight following a one-day delay due to engine problems.
Following an extended flight from Melbourne
to Darwin 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 leading 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.
29/06/1928 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 Cook.
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 from Sydney.
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 seaplane training.
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.

Highlight for Album: Wackett Widgeon II


The Author of this page is Darren Crick updated by Brendan Cowan

Source:, Aircraft Status Card, National Archives,

Emails: Robert Brosing, Chris Goddard, Phil Vabre.

Updated 10 October 2013


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