Last updated 24.8.17
CIVIL DH.98 MOSQUITOS IN AUSTRALIA

Compiled by Geoff Goodall

A small number of former RAAF Mosquito fighter bombers were to become civil registered


Bright red Mosquito VH-KLG preparing to depart Cocos Island 3 October 1953, enroute to London to compete in the
London-Christchurch Air Race. It was wrecked in a forced landing in Burma later that day.             Photo: Max Mead

         The Royal Australian Air Force received over 300 De Havilland DH.98 Mosquitos of all models in Australia between 1943 and 1948, of which 225 were Australian-built by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney.
         After the war, RAAF Mosquitos were used for aerial photographic mapping across Australia, New Guinea and Fiji by RAAF Survey Squadron which was later reformed as No. 87 (PR) Squadron.  These final RAAF Mosquitos were retired during 1953 and the squadron was disbanded in December 1953. The type's operational retirement prompted the Ground Training Unit at RAAF Wagga NSW to replace its Mosquito instructional airframes. During 1954 well-maintained RAAF Mosquitos were listed for disposal by sealed-bid auction by the Department of Supply.

1. Air Race Mosquitos - London to Christchurch Air Race October 1953

          Before the Department of Supply had commenced preparing disposals paperwork for the remaining Mosquitos, the 1953 London to Christchurch 20,000 Km air race was generating great interest around the world.  Billed as The Last Great Air Race, the aviation press reported a variety of civil aircraft being entered, including US competitors.  Australians planning to take part included James Whiteman with Mustang VH-BVM, Mrs. Gertie McKenzie with a RAAF Avro Anson 19 later changed to a RAAF C-47 (neither of which had been agreed to by the RAAF) and Colin Kirby flying his Percival Gull VH-CCM. These bids were later withdrawn and most other private entries also pulled out when it was learnt that Caberra jet bombers were entered by RAF and RAAF, also Viscount and DC-6B airliners.
          However two other Australian pilots were serious contenders, each basing his bid on acquiring a former RAAF Mosquito

          In Perth, 60 year old Captain James "Jimmy" Woods, was a West Australian legend. He was a World War I flier who became chief pilot of the pioneering West Australian Airways and later MacRobertson-Miller Aviation.  By 1953 he was operating his own company Woods Airways, flying Avro Ansons between Perth and Rottnest Island - often as a one-man operation which included driving the airline bus between Perth city and airport. By 1953 Woods had logged over 25,000 flying hours. Known as "Woodsy", his genial Scottish manner and regular stubborn disputes with DCA had won him strong public support.
          Woods was no stranger to international flying, having flown his DH.60 Moth VH-UPD Spirit of Western Australia from Perth to London in 1933, and the following year he flew Lockheed Vega G-ABGK in the Centenary Air Race from London to Melbourne with navigator Donald Bennett. The Vega overturned during landing at Aleppo, Syria, forcing their withdrawal.




                          Jimmy Woods 1950s in characteristic pose                       Aubrey "Titus" Oates 1958 with his red Mustang VH-AUB

           In Sydney,  flamboyant hotelier, commercial pilot and wartime RAAF hero Aubrey J. R. "Titus" Oates DFC was seeking sponsors for his entry, also nominating a Mosquito. He was familar with the type from his days as a test pilot with De Havilland Aircraft at Bankstown during Mosquito production. On V-J Day Oates had flown a Mosquito at extreme low altitudes across Sydney suburbs. He also had experience along the air race route, having flown a Lockheed Lodestar on migrant charters from Rome to Sydney during 1948.
           Aubrey Oates lobbied senior Federal politicians to allow a retired RAAF Mosquito to be released to allow him to make a patriotic Australian entry in the air race. The Minister for Air, William McMahon, was persuaded and in September 1952 instructed the Department of Supply to make a free issue of a servicable Mosquito.  PR.41 A52-320 in storage at RAAF Amberley Qld was issued to Oates on 12.10.52.  However for reasons unknown it was found to be unsuitable and approval was given to exchange it for another PR.41 stored at Amberley A52-324 which was issued to Oates on 6.11.52. His entry was sponsored by KLG Spark Plugs and Ampol Oil.
           By early 1953 the Jimmy Woods entry had gained the sponsorship of The West Australian Newspaper in Perth. Woods personally aproached the Minister for Territories Paul Hasluck to make representations in Canberra on his behalf for a similar deal to that afforded Oates. In March 1952 McMahon agreed to the sale of a PR.41 to Woods but added a nominal price of 100.  The sales contract stipulated that all further costs of preparing and ferrying the aircraft were the responsibility of the new owner.

          The following two aircraft histories set out both ill-fated attempts. Neither Mosquito reached the starting line in London.

            Mosquito PR.41 A52-324                                                                                      VH-KLG

Built at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd.
Built to RAAF order as a Mosquito FB Mk.40 A52-62
.48
Production delays and changing RAAF requirements resulted in this airframe being modified on the assembly line and completed as c/n 3006 as a PR. Mk.41 A52-324
7.5.48
Taken on RAAF charge as PR.Mk.41 A52-324. Recieved 2AD Richmond ex De Havilland Aircraft
28.5.48
Received 3AD Amberley ex 2AD. Held in storage under cover
10.52
Free issue ex 3AD to Mr. A. J. R. Oates, Sydney
10.52
Oates and RAAF Flt Lt Douglas Swain, who had agreed to be his copilot/navigator for the air race, were checked out on the aircraft at Amberley by 3AD Test Pilot Max Garroway
11.10.52
Ferried from Amberley to Sydney by Oates and Swain

Painted in Sydney all red with registration in white, AMPOL emblem on fuselage and under the port wing, and race number 6 on the fuselage side.
Standard RAAF long range fuel tanks were fitted under each wing
23.9.53
Registered VH-KLG Aubrey J. R. Oates, Sydney NSW

DCA would not consider civil type certification for an ex-military Mosquito, but reluctantly agreed to allow VH-KLG to operate on a Provisional CofA basis for the flight to London and air race

Delays in preparation resulted in Oates to leave Sydney with barey a week to reach London in time for the Air Race Start from London Airport on 8 October 1953.
Doug Swain, chief pilot of Herald Flying Services, Sydney had agreed to be copilot/navigator.
1.10.53
Departed Sydney for Perth, crewed by Aubrey Oates and Doug Swain.
Reached Perth Airport in 8 hrs 25 mins. Planned route to London was Perth, Cocos Island, Colombo.
2.10.53
Departed Perth for Cocos but navigation difficulties forced them to divert enroute to Carnarvon WA
3.10.53
Carnarvon-Cocos Island
3.10.53
Departed Cocos for Ceylon, but navigation problems in tropical weather resulted in their diversion to the Burma coast attempting to reach Bangkok. In a low fuel state, Oates made a wheels-up forced landing
3.10.53
Wrecked in forced landing in a coastal swamp near Mergui, Burma.
Oates and Swain both sustained minor injuries and were rescued from muddy water by local fishermen. They were flown to RAF Butterworth, Malaya by RAF Valetta transport for medical checks.


Two views of VH-KLG at Sydney Airport in September 1953 prior to departure for London.
Behind is a Pan American Airways Boeing Stratocruiser.               Both photos by Eddie Coates




               Mosquito PR.41 A52-319               The Quokka                                         VH-WAD,  Australian War Memorial
20.5.46
Construction begun at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd.
Built to RAAF order as a Mosquito FB Mk.40 A52-210   (Fuselage No. MN310)

Production delays and changing RAAF requirements resulted in this airframe being modified on the assembly line and completed as c/n 3236 as a PR. Mk.41 A52-319. 
9.11.47
Engines installed on production line: two Packard Merlins built by Packard Motor Car Co in Detroit Michigan in 12.44. Both had been received by the DH Bulk Store, Sydney 4.4.46 from Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Lidcombe NSW
29.1.48
First flight Bankstown, flown by DHA chief test pilot Brian R. Walker
2.2.48
Aircraft log: next text flight. Further test flights on the following two days
12.2.48
Acceptance flight by RAAF at Bankstown
12.2.48
Flown Bankstown to RAAF Richmond
18.2.48
Taken on RAAF charge as Mosquito PR41 A52-319. Received 2AD ex De Havilland Aircraft
12.3.48
Ferried Richmond-Archerfield on delivery to 3AD Amberley.  Received 3AD Archerfield detachment
16.3.48
While airborne near Dubbo NSW pilot used fire extinguisher on an electrical fire in main switch panel

Category B Storage Archerfield, flown 2 hours per month
21.11.49
Last flight Archerfield, prior to Category C Storage with no flying
3.3.53
Offered for disposal
20.3.53
Department of Supply sale contract for 100 to: James Woods, Perth WA

Remained stored at 3AD Archerfield detachment
22.8.53
Test flown Archerfield and ferried to 3AD Amberley
26.8.53
Aircraft Log: next flight: Amberley local

Max Garroway later wrote: "From 1951 to 1954, I was the Test Pilot for 3AD Amberley. One of my duties was to test and keep in flying condition the Mosquitos which were in storage there. This dear old chap Jimmy Woods arrived at Amberley to take delivery of a Mosquito.  It is a bit of a jump from the controls of an Anson to those of a Mosquito and I was a bit apprehensive as I no longer had a Mossie with dual controls. Added to this was Jimmy's age which the best guess in the Mess was at least 70!
So all I could do was take him up and give him a demo and a few circuits.
Jimmy went off on his own,  with me in the Control Tower talking him around and down, which he managed very well. He then asked me to fly the Mosquito to Perth with him and go with him in the air race. On the morning of our departure from Amberley he received a telegram advising that his race sponsor had decided to pull out. Jimmy was devastated but decided to go to Perth anyway."
7.9.53
Aircraft Log: next flight: Amberley local, James Woods pilot check-out.  Also 8.9.53
10.9.53
Aircraft Log: Amberley-Perth, pilots Woods and Max Garroway
23.9.53
Registered VH-WAD James Woods, 22 Arbordale Flats, St Georges Terrace, Perth WA

RAAF markings painted over in silver and The Quokka was painted on the nose.

Quokkas are small marsupial animals abundant on Rottnest Island, where Jimmy Woods operated his Woods Airways scheduled airline service from Perth with Avro Ansons VH-WAB & VH-WAC.

In the month prior to the race, Jimmy Woods' air race sponsor West Australian Newspapers, withdrew  support believing the entry of Canberra jet bombers and commercial airliners in the race gave the Mosquito no chance of winning.  Woods approached a prominent Sydney businessman who was visiting Perth and was optimistic that he had found a last-minute backer, but a week later received a telegam saying time was too short to formalise an agreement.
VH-WAD had been allocated race number 8, but it was never painted on the aircraft.
12.10.53
Struck-off Register and Provisional CofA cancelled
10.53
An offer to purchase VH-WAD came from M.J.Lawrence of Sepal Pty Ltd, Sydney. Sepal was Australian agent for US operation Word-Wide Surveys Inc - see below
1953-1961
VH-WAD was parked in the ANA hangar at Perth Airport for several years then moved to the DCA hangar.  The DCA file for VH-WAD records years of increasingly acrimonious correspondence with Woods requesting him to pay owed hangarage fees and his polite but deliberately vague replies.
By 1961 when Woods Airways ceased operating because of DCA restrictions on Avro Ansons, James Woods owed the Department 900 hangarage.
During 1961 DCA had the Mosquito towed out of their hangar and parked on an adjacent grass area
11.1.63
Airforce Association (WA Division) sent a telegram to Woods at a London address where he was visiting friends: AFA requested his permission to move the Mosquito into a fenced compound at Perth Airport to be displayed alongside their Avro Lancaster WU.16recently donated by the French Government and ferried from New Caledonia in December 1962
15.1.63
Woods replied by telegram: "Bombs away, wish every success - Jimmy"
1.2.63
Towed to an open site behind the car park at Perth Airport and positioned with the the Lancater. A cyclone wire fence was then erected around both aircraft, which were opened to the public on Sundays for a small donation

Lack of a written agreement with Woods proved a problem when the Mosquito's condition quickly deteriorated due exposure to the weather. Woods ignored AFA and DCA requests to maintain the aircraft
2.3.67
Perth Airport Manager letter to AFA outlining his failed attempts to get Woods' cooperation.  Both DCA and AFA agreed the Mosquito's shabby appearance made it unfit for display. He had sought the Crown Solicitor's advice on how to legally remove it without the owner's consent
7.67
Perth Airport ground staff moved the Mosquito from the AFA Lancaster compound to a dump area at a reservoir on airport land, out of public sight behind trees
5.68
Unmoved, still in fair condition. Woods had placed underneath the Mosquito two spare Anson ailerons (still in RAAF yellow) previously held in storage
8.68
Perth press reports that the cockpit entrance hatch had been wrenched off its hinges and cockpit instruments removed. With the hatch no longer secure, vandals had inflicted mindless interior damage. The upper wing surface ply covering was wrecked bypeople walking out on the wings, breaking through the covering
1.69
Sold by Woods for $6,000 to James A. Harwood & Co, Perth WA

Jim Harwood was a real estate agent who operated an import/export agency specialising in vintage motor cars. He had exported DH.82 Tiger Moth VH-AOY from Sydney to USA in December 1967 and wanted additional aircraft. He had arranged the shipping of Mustang A68-1 (ex Emu atomic test site in SA) from Adelaide to USA in 1968 and claimed he had salvage rights to two USAAC Bell P-39s which made forced landings near Weipa Qld during the war. The P-39s were later collected by North Queensland enthusiasts.

On-sold by Harwood to Edward A. Jurist, Vintage Car Store International Inc, Nyack, New York

Ed Jurist was an early high profile warbird dealer involved with many imports and exports of ex-military aircraft. He was closely aligned with the Confederate Air Force in Texas and in 1969 imported 6 ex Peru Air Force P-47 Thuderbolts for the CAF. He was later a key partner in the recovery of 29 derelict Hawker Furies from Iraq and their subsequent world-wide sale as warbird restoration projects.
7-8.1.69
VH-WAD dismantled at Perth Airport for loading on trucks. Harwood said it would be sent by road to Sydney where he intended to have it restored before being shipped to USA.
During loading, while being lifted by a crane, the fuselage structure failed and almost broke into two sections. Faced with the reality of the airframe's poor condition, Harwood abandoned the Sydney plans and put the dismantled aircraft into storage in Perth.

Sale to Ed Jurist cancelled due aircraft's structural condition
1969-1971
Stored dismantled under cover at No.16 Wool Store, High Road, Fremantle WA
2.3.71
Harwood wrote to AFA (WA Division) offering the Mosquito plus $15,000 cash for their Lancaster.
AFA declined the offer but indicated it was interested in acquiring the Mosquito for their planned aviation museum to be established at the AFA Estate, Bull Creek, Perth. Harwood refused to negotiate a price for the Mosquito separately
6.71
Sold by Harwood to David M. Kubista, 6159 East Seneca, Tucson Arizona

Kubista claimed to be an airline pilot who owned a stable of warbirds at Tucson, racing Mustangs at Reno Air Races. However his name does not appear as an aircraft owner or in reports of the air races at Reno of the time,
11.71
Dismantled Mosquito airframe was moved from No.16 Wool Store due to space no longer available.
The Merlin engines and propellers were stored under cover at Eagle Supplies, 14 Thurso Place, Myaree.
While being lifted by crane, the fuselage, which was already broken behind the cockpit was damaged further and separated into two sections. These fuselage sections and the wing were trasnported to the yard of F.W. Churchers Company at Stockdale Road, O'Connor. There they were left on the ground along the wall of a work shed and covered with plastic sheeting. A pitiful sight.
1.72
Despite the sale to Kubista, Harwood made a new offer to AFA of $5,000 for the Mosquito "as is"
4.72
David Kubista arrived in Perth to collect his Mosquito and organise its shipping to USA. When he saw the poor state of the aircraft and discovered that a number of parts had been removed during storage, he made a press appeal for these parts to returned.  Kubista stated he had commenced legal action against Harwood for misrepresenting the condition of the aircraft
5.72
Fuselage sections and wing packed in heavy steel framework weighing 6 tons which had been constructed for the purpose
20.5.72
Packed airframe moved by road from O'Connor to Fremantle wharves for loading on board the freighter Manoora bound for Melbourne. Because hold cargo space was unavailable, it was loaded as deck cargo.
At Melbourne it was planned to be transferred to Dilccara for shipping to Long Beach, California.
Kubista said he expected it to reach Los Angeles on 18 June 1972 where he had made arrangements for it to be moved by road to Tucson AZ. He would then commence work on its restoration at Ryan Field near Tucson and he intended to fly it as an air racer
23.5.72
Manoora departed Fremantle for Melbourne
5.72
Mosquito in its frame was unloaded at Melbourne but the shipping agents would not load it on Dilcarra until costs already incurred by Kubista were settled
72
Placed in an open storage yard at Melbourne wharves while negotiations continued with Kubista
2.75
The dismantled airframe unmoved in the open weather at Port Melbourne. Kubista has not paid the shipping agents who want $6,000 to cover their costs. The airframe is now derelict.
22.1.79
Auctioned at West Melbourne to recover shipping, transport and storage costs which have now risen to $18,000.  Winning bid of $21,000 from Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
1979-1996
Restoration for display contracted to Bankstown Airport, Sydney by Hawker De Havilland Australia
96
Restored airframe moved to Canberra for final fitting out at AWM Mitchell Annexe
22.1.97
Rolled-out at Mitchell Annexe completed in RAAF post-war silver scheme as "A52-319"

Displayed inside Australian War Memorial, Canberra


VH-WAD at Perth Airport in September 1964 while on loan to the Air Force Association for display with
their French Aeronavale Lancaster WU-16 (NX622).                                        Photo by Mike Madden


When its condition deteriorated due weather exposure, VH-WAD was moved out of public sight on Perth Airport.
This picture in May 1968 shows the spare Anson ailerons which Jimmy Woods left under the Mosquito.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


This May 1968 view shows the extent of the upper surface decline.                     Photo by Geoff Goodall


In a sad state with fractured fuselage structure, stored in a North Fremantle WA woolstore in October 1971.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


                  After a lengthy restoration, VH-WAD is displayed at the Australian War Memorial in its former RAAF markings.                   
Photo by Phil Vabre


2. M. J. Lawrence trading as Sepal Pty Ltd, Sydney

                 Morris John "Morry" Lawrence was brought up in Perth WA where his first job was as an accountant with Australian National Airways. In 1948 he was transferred to ANA head office in Melbourne and then to Hong Kong as part of the ANA investment in Cathay Pacific Airways. Rising to the position of Financial Controller, his knowledge of airline requirements for spares and back-up parts, he went out on his own in Sydney in 1951 to set up his own company Sepal Pty Ltd, 52 Wentworth Avenue, Mascot ("Sales Engineering Procurement Agencies and Loading") as an agency to supply equipment and spare parts to airlines. He travelled as far as Lae, New Guinea on sales trips to take orders for airframe and engine parts for Mandated Airlines.
               Lawrence's first experience with RAAF Mosquito disposals came in early 1953 when Sepal Pty Ltd acted on behalf of Claire M. Waterbury, principle of Aviation Export Co, Los Angeles. Waterbury was about to visit NZ and Australia to purchase military disposals Mosquitos for resale to the growing high-altitude aerial survey operators in USA. AEC made a bulk purchase of former RNZAF Mosquitos but after the first two were flown out on delivery to California, export of others was was blocked by the NZ Government which expressed concern that they could be used for illegal or military purposes.
               By the time Claire Waterbury arrived in Sydney, Morry Lawrence had established that the last of the RAAF Mosquito PR41s were still in service on aerial photographic survey work with 87 Squadron. Numbers of serviceable PR41s were stored in reserve at Amberley and Archerfield, Queensland but none would not be listed for disposal until the following year. However he did learn that three Mosquito FB40 instructional airframes at Ground Training Unit, RAAF Wagga NSW had just been sold to a scrap dealer. Hurried contact with the scrap dealer brought the news that they were in good condition, having been kept inside a hangar without any serious damage inflicted during their training role. An inspection found that A52-177 was best, and Sepal Pty Ltd purchased all three so that Merlin engines and parts could be exchanged to rebuild -177 to airworthy, after which remaining useful components would be sent to the Sepal parts store in Sydney.
                 Using his airline contacts, Morry Lawrence recruited aircraft maintence staff from Australian National Airways and Butler Air Transport to work part-time on A52-177 at Wagga. Waterbury was happy with the deal and an AEC ferry pilot and navigator arrived to collect the Mosquito. Registered N4928V, it made the Pacific crossing in mid 1953 and was sold to a Californian charter airline.

              Mosquito FB.40  A52-177                                                                                                   N4928V

Constructed at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney by De Havilland Aircraft (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Built to RAAF order as a Mosquito FB Mk.40. Fuselage number MN277
8.3.46 Taken on RAAF charge as Mosquito FB.40 A52-177. Received 2AD Richmond ex De Havillands
8.4.46 Received Ground Training Unit, Wagga ex 2AD. To be stored under cover
20.1.47 Approval for conversion to Instructional Airframe No.3
1.4.51 Status: held at GTU with Merlin 33s Instructional Nos. 69 & 70 installed. Painted as "D3"
23.9.52 Offered for disposal
14.1.53 Sold by Department of Supply to R. H. Grant Trading Co Ltd, Melbourne Vic

Grants was a scrap metal merchant which at that time specialised in breaking up large numbers of military aircraft at Wagga and Tocumwal NSW
.53 Sold by R.H. Grant to M.J. Lawrence trading as Sepal Pty Ltd, Sydney

Sepal also purchased Mosquitos A52-55 & A52-173 at Wagga from the same disposals sale

Sepal was acting as an agency for Aviation Export Co, Los Angeles CA

This dealership, headed by Claire M. Waterbury, was interested in acquiring retired RNZAF and RAAF Mosquitos for resale to US aerial survey operators.  The Mosquito's largely wooden construction made it an effective mount for magnetometer mineral survey, resulting in US and Canadian survey operators purchasing numbers of RAF Mosquitos in Britain. Waterbury also considered modifying Mosquitos as high-speed passenger aircraft with an all-metal forward fuselage capsule for pilot and three passengers.
53 A52-55, A52-173 and "D3" (A52-177) were parked outside at the aircraft graveyard area at RAAF Wagga, where scrap dealers had been breaking up aircraft for years

A52-177 was assessed as in best condition. Morry Lawrence recruited aircraft maintence engineers from Australian National Airways and Butler Air Transport to work part-time at Wagga to get A52-177 back to airworthy condition, using parts as required from A52-55 & A52-173.
The latter two were then broken up for engines and parts, stored by Sepal Pty Ltd as spares.

A52-177 had a radio direction-finding loop antenna and cockpit fittings salvaged from an Avro Anson were installed to aid navigation
.53 Registered N4928V Aviation Export Co, Los Angeles CA c/- Claire M. Waterbury

US Civil Register quoted type as "De Havilland Mark 20", engines "Allison", constructed in 1953,
identity "MN277": which was the DHA fuselage number


N4928V ferried Wagga-Sydney by American pilot Lewis M. Leach, who worked for Aviation Export Co as a ferry pilot. He had Press On Regardless painted on the nose

N4928V departed Sydney Airport on delivery to USA flown by pilot Lewis M. Leach and Navigator
Elgin Long.  Stowed on board the Mosquito were a quanity of spare parts.

Arrived Burbank California
.54 Sold to Richard R. Neumann/ California Air Charter Inc, Burbank Airport, California

California Air Charter operated two other Mosquitos (N4935V and N9909F, both ex RNZAF) apparently for high speed parcel deliveries to Central and South American countries. Several magazine articles have reported that California Air Charter leased them to other operators for CIA clandestine opertations in Central and South America but CAC President Richard Neumann strongly denies this. In a 2002 letter he says all consignments carried were "strictly legal and above board, with the consignees usually being the destination port's head customs officer."
 
Sold to Poddy Mercer/ Mercer Enterprises Inc, Burbank Airport California

Retired Burbank

Sold for scrap to James Kaplan, Sun Valley CA. Broken-up by Kaplan at Burbank

US Civil Register shows last owner as Howard B. Crawford, Los Angeles, California

Broken-up at Burbank Airport CA


Morry Lawrence's three Mosquitos on the RAAF Wagga dump in 1953, with a retired Airspeed Oxford.
A52-177 is at left painted with instructional airframe number "D3"
B&W photos in this set were taken by Morry Lawrence, courtesy Doug Morrison


The Mosquitos were parked among the debris of previously scrapped aircraft at Wagga


A52-177 painted as N4928V at Sydney Airport 1953, with a new radio direction finding loop antenna.
Note the legs protruding from the fuselage hatch


The ferry crew's light-hearted motto "Press On Regardless!" painted on N4928V's nose


The American ferry crew ready to depart Sydney for California: Elgan Long (left) and Lewis Leach


N4928V at Canton Island mid-Pacific during the flight to USA.                              Photo: embitt.scan

Enter Word-Wide Surveys Inc:
                    Sepal Pty Ltd became Australian agents for World-Wide Surveys Inc, Philadelphia, Pennyslvania. This was an operation formed as a joint venture between two established US aerial survey companies, Aero Service Corp, Philadelphia and Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc, Los Angeles, California. This allowed both to pool resources to bif for lucrative survey jobs mostly outside USA.
                    In early 1954 World-Wide Surveys Inc was awarded a high altitude (36,000 feet) photographic survey contract by the US Army Map Service to cover large areas of Sarawak and Sabah in Borneo.  WWS wanted to use Mosquitos for the contract and Morry Lawrence advised them that suitable aircraft were available from RAAF or RNZAF disposals. Lawrence promptly registered a new Sepal associate company Word Wide Aerial Surveys (Australia) Ltd.
                    With commercial pressure mounting to begin the Borneo contract, Aero Service Corp sent its Operations Manager Joe Muilen to New Zealand and Australia to acquire Mosquitos and get them to Borneo.  Arriving in Melbourne in early May 1954, Mullens selected the two RAAF Mosquito PR.41s with lowest airframe hours on the Department of Supply disposals list: A52-306 & -313 were purchased plus a stock of spare Merlin engines and parts. RAAF pilot Max Garroway, who at that time was the No.3 Aircraft Depot Test Pilot at RAAF Amberley for their stored Mosquitos takes up the story:
                   "I was sitting in my office at Amberley one day in May 1954 when a gentleman appeared and introduced himself as Joe Mullins from Aero Service Corporation in USA and informed me "I have just bought one of your Mosquitos". I had A52-306 at Amberley and the other one was at Tocumwal. I ferried both to Mascot where  an engineer from Aero Service Corp carried out some modifications and they became N1596V and N1597V. The modifications were to accommodate a photographer position in the rear fuselage, cut a hole in the floor of the fuselage to take the big Fairchild camera and convert the oxygen system from high pressure to the American 'demand' low pressure system.  I note from my log book that on 30 May 1954 I took Joe Mullen up on an altitude test to 36,000 feet from Mascot and I can remember that he was most impressed with the Mossie's performance, which he said was better than the P-38 Lightnings that Aero Service operated for survey at these altitudes.
                   Joe Mullen needed two pilots. He recruited Bruce Mackenzie from East West Airlines who had flown Mossies during the war, so I gave him a refresher and check-out at Mascot. Joe then offered me a job. I tried to get leave without pay for six months from RAAF but they would not agree. Joe then made me an offer which, financially, was almost impossible to refuse. So I resigned my commission and took on the job of flying and looking after the maintenance of the two aircraft. The Aero Service engineer returned to the States and we recruited two mechanics Tony Maurier and Paddy McCarthy from TAA.
                    Bruce and Tony Maurier went ahead to Labuan, Borneo
under some urgency because the company was being paid on some kind of cost-plus basis and received a payment for every day an aircrat was on site and servicable. I followed with Joe Mullins and Paddy came up by airlines."
                   The two Mosquitos were based at Labuan until September 1954 when they returned to Sydney and were parked at Camden in a hangar leased by Sepal Pty Ltd. In May the following year an American team headed by scientist Homer Jensen arrived at Camden to modify one for aeromagnetic work. World Wide Surveys had been awarded a large WA Petroleum Company contract to map and interpret a aeromagnetic survey of vast areas of the Great Sandy Desert and Gibson Desert of northern WA, looking for prospective areas for oil drilling.
                  Previously magnetometer survey aircraft had the sensor installed at the end of a "stinger" or towed in a "bird" away from the interference of the aircraft's metal structure. Homer Jensen believed he could install an effective sensor inside the fuselage of the mostly wooden Mosquito, and N1597V was modified at Camden to fit the electronic equiopment and operator's seat within the claustrophic fuselage shell. Despite its wooden structure, the Mosquito was found at first to be magnetically "noisy"and required major cutting of the fuselage bonding strips and replacement of the control cabling in stainless steel. After flight trials at Camden, Max Garroway departed for Broome WA where the survey was based for the next four months.
                  Sepal Pty Ltd operated other surveys 1955-1957 under its own DCA Airwork Licence on behalf of World-Wide Surveys, using a Lockheed Hudson VH-SMM (leased from Sydney Morning Herald) for photographic survey and Avro Anson VH-BLF equipped with magnetometer sensor for mineral survey. Max Garroway and Ken Rowlands were the usual pilots for the Hudson. Experienced airline ground engineer Noel Notley was engaged in 1956 as Sepal's senior engineer in charge of maintenance at the Camden hangar. Notley left Butler Air Transport and moved his family to live at Camden.


Lockheed Hudson VH-SMM at Mascot in 1956 "Sepal Pty Ltd operated for World Wide Aerial Surveys"
Photo: Ed Coates collection


Anson VH-BLF at Mascot 1957 "World Wide Aerial Surveys". The cradle to stow the towed magnetometer
sensor can be seen under the belly.                                                      Photo: Ian McDonell collection



Sepal Pty Ltd's modest Sydney office circa 1956                         Morry Lawrence circa 1964.      Both via Doug Morrison

The World-Wide Surveys Inc Mosquitos:

              Mosquito PR.41 A52-306                                                                                                N1596V, VH-WWS

Built at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney by De Havilland Aircraft (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Built to RAAF order as a Mosquito FB Mk.40 A52-197.  Fuselage number MN297
.47
Production delays and changing RAAF requirements resulted in this airframe being modified on the assembly line and completed as a PR. Mk.41 A52-306
5.8.47
Taken on RAAF charge as Mosquito PR.41 A52-306. Received 2AD Richmond ex De Havillands
13.8.47
Received Survey Squadron, Canberra ex 2AD. United reformed as No. 87 (PR) Squadron, Canberra
4.4.49
Received De Havilland Aircraft Bankstown ex 87 Sqn for servicing
6.9.49
Received RAAF Station Canberra ex DH for storage
16.3.50
Received 87 Sqn ex RAAF Canberra
27.9.50
Received De Havilland Aircraft Bankstown ex 87 Sqn for major servicing
28.5.51
Received RAAF Station Canberra ex DH 
31.5.51
Received 87 Sqn ex RAAF Canberra
7-8.51
Based at Longreach Qld on aerial mapping
20.5.52
Received De Havilland Aircraft Bankstown ex 87 Sqn for major servicing
30.4.53
Received 2AD Richmond ex DH
14.5.53
Received 3AD Amberley ex 2AD for storage
17.5.54
Sold by Department of Supply to World-Wide Surveys Inc, Philadelphia PA
17.5.54
Ferried Amberley to Sydney Airport by RAAF 3AD officer Max Galloway and Joe Mullins (Aero Service Corp)

Inspection at Bankstown by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd for US certification. Modified by Aero Service Corp engineers to install a Wild vertical camera and operator position inside the rear fuselage.
29.5.54
Registered N1596V Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc, Los Angeles, California, operated by
World-Wide Surveys Inc, Philadelphia PA
29.5.54
US CofA issued at Sydney

DCA file memo:
"Two photo-reconnaissance Mosquito aircraft were acquired from disposals by Mr. M. Lawrence of Sepal Pty Ltd, acting as agents for an American aerial survey organisation Word-Wide Surveys Incorporated.
The aircraft were processed by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney for the issue of United States Registration and Airworthiness certificates. These documents were issued by a CAA representative during one of the regular visits by these officers to Sydney to inspect the maintenance organisation of Pan American Airways at Sydney. Registration marking and certificates were issued to one aircraft N1596V on 29 May 1954 and the other N1597V on 7 June 1954."

6.54
Departed Sydney on ferry to Labuan, Borneo for high level photographic mapping contract, flown by Bruce Mackenzie, with ground engineer Tony Maurier. Refuelled at Cloncurry, Darwin, Sourabaya.
Aircraft impounded and crew held for several days by Indonesian military at Sourabaya on suspicion of unauthorised photography of Indonesian territory.
6.54
Reached Labuan

N1596V and N1597V flew high altitude aerial photographic mapping runs from Labuan, pilot MacKenzie with a navigator and camera operator from Aero Service Corp. A palm frond hangar had been constructed by the American team on the wartime airfield to provide some shade for the Mosquitos.
7.54
Palm frond hangar collapsed during a storm, covering N1596V with fronds and debris. No serious damage
21.9.54
N1596V & N1597V arrived Darwin from Labuan via Sorong at the completion of the Borneo survey. Both continued to Camden NSW where they were stored in a hangar leased by Sepal Pty Ltd and occasionally test flown by Max Garroway
10.55
DCA file memo: both Mosquitos are in the Sepal hangar at Camden

M.J.Lawrence of Sepal Pty Ltd and World Wide Aerial Surveys (Australia) Ltd, acting as agent for Word-Wide Surveys Inc negotiated with DCA for approval to extend Mosquito survey work into 1957. Departmental policy restricted Australian civil certification of former military combat aircraft types because of the probability of unrecorded airframe stresses sustained in military service. Because they were US registered, DCA had approved their use in Australia only for specialist survey work.

On 29.6.56 DCA Head Office gave approval for Sepal Pty Ltd to operate two Mosquitos "for a period not exceeding 12 months for the limited purpose of high level aerial photography only." Requirements were that US civil registrations must be cancelled and the aircraft registered in Australia.

DCA still had serious concern over the emergency evacuation of the camera operator in the event of a belly landing. Sepal responded detailing their safety procedures. If an emergency landing was required, the camera operator would be instructed by the pilot to bale out while at a safe altitude
- 10.8.56 DCA aircraft surveyor report describing simulated evacuations of the camera operator from a Sepal Mosquito in Hangar 55 at Camden. The evacuations by a crewman 6 feet heigh weighing 14 stone (80Kg) took 50 seconds, which failed the DCA ANO time limit.
10.7.56
US Bill of Sale: from Fairchild Aerial Surveys Inc to World Wide Aerial Surveys (Australia) Ltd, Sydney c/- M.J.Lawrence
20.7.56
Cable to DCA from CAA, Washington DC advising that registration of N1596V had been cancelled on receipt of a Bill of Sale to an Australian owner.
20.7.56
DCA file: copy of letter to CAA from World Wide Aerial Surveys (Australia) Pty Ltd, Sydney advising that N1596V has been sold to Sepal Pty Ltd, Sydney
24.7.56
Application forms for CofR and CofA for Mosquito A52-306 submitted to DCA by Sepal Pty Ltd.
VH-WWS was requested
15.10.56
Test flight as VH-WWS at Camden, pilot Max Garroway. This followed overhaul for Australian certification, supervised by Sepal chief engineer Noel Notley. Airframe total time 1,270 hours.
2.11.56
Registered VH-WWS Sepal Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
2.11.56
Restricted CofA issued valid only until 1.8.57

Sepal camera operator Kevin Pavlich logbook extracts for VH-WWS (occasional flights, while he was camera operator on Hudson VH-SMM), Ken Rowlands was pilot for all the following Mosquito flights, with two Fairchild Aerial Surveys instructors from America acting as navigator in the right seat.

7.12.56      Camden test flight to 15,000 feet, stbd engine power fluctuation
17.12.56    Camden-Mascot
21.12.56    Mascot-Camden, test flight to 17,000 feet, u/s stbd engine
27.12.56    Altitude test, stbd engine failed on takeoff
28.12.56    Altitude test, stbd engine u/s, second flight to 25,000 feet
2.1.57        Camden-Mascot
4.1.57        Photo test at 35,000 feet, navigator unwell at 25,000 feet
8.1.57        Photography at 25,000 ft Orange district, then various days January over Cooma, Wollongong
11.1.57      Cabin hatch blew off at 25,000 feet over Tumut
29.1.57      Mascot, radio u/s
4.2.57        test flight radio check
12.2.57      test flight radio and generator checks
19.2.57      Mascot-Camden
(Kevin Pavlich and Ken Rowlands then left Sepal Pty Ltd to join Adastra Aerial Surveys, Sydney.
Israeli pilot Gerry Vardi took over from Rowlands flying VH-WWS)
13.7.57
VH-WWS cleared Customs outbound at Darwin for a survey at Portuguese Timor. Captain Gerry Vardi. Among crew was American citizen Ray E. Anderson, photogrametric engineer (Immigration file record)
23.7.57
In response to a request from Sepal Pty Ltd, DCA granted a one month extension to the CofA from 1.8.57 to 1.9.57 to allow completion of the survey
15.8.57
VH-WWS cleared Customs inbound at Darwin. Ray Anderson in the crew.
8.57
VH-WWS retired at Camden
20.8.57
Letter to DCA from Sepal Pty Ltd advising that "VH-WWS is presently stored in our hangar at Camden and it is no longer our intention to use this aircraft in our operations."
20.8.57
Struck-off Civil Register
58
VH-WWS and N1597V stripped airframes burnt at Camden NSW

Noel H. Notley, former Sepal Pty Ltd chief engineer at Camden had joined with Morry Lawrence to form Lawrence Engineering and Sales Pty Ltd in August 1957 to take over the licenced workshop in the Camden hangar. (see DH.82 Tiger Moths-LES production in this series).
Noel later wrote:  "We started to dismantle the two Mosquitos, selling the engines, propellers, hydraulic components, oxygen systems, instruments and radios over a 6 to 9 month period. It then reached a point where it was not viable for them to occupy hangar space. So the two Mosquitos were towed out to a clear area on the aerodrome, jacked up to remove the wheels and let down on the undercarriage legs. Petrol was spilled in and around the aircraft and they were set alight. Being wooden construction, they burnt to the ground. The remaining metal components were cleared up and dumped at the tip."


World-Wide Surveys Mosquitos operations: Labuan, Broome, Timor, Perth
Map courtesy Doug Morrison


N1596V at Sydney Airport in June 1954, just before its departure to Borneo for a high altitude survey contract.
Photo: Aero Service Corp via Norm Malayney


Labuan, Borneo July 1954 when the temprary palm frond hangar collapsed during a tropical storm.
Photo by Max Garroway via Doug Morrison


VH-WWS (formerly N1596V) at Mascot in 1957 "Sepal Pty Ltd - World Wide Aerial Surveys (Aust) Pty Ltd"
Photo by Frederick G. Freeman via Norm Malayney


VH-WWS parked overnight in a TAA hangar at Mascot in 1957.                                 Photo by Eddie Coates

               Mosquito  PR.41 A52-313                                                                                       N1597V

Built at Bankstown Aerodrome, Sydney by De Havilland Aircraft (Australia) Pty Ltd.
Built to RAAF order as a Mosquito FB Mk.40 A52-204
.47
Production delays and changing RAAF requirements resulted in this airframe being modified on the assembly line and completed as a PR. Mk.41 A52-313
7.11.47
Taken on RAAF charge as Mosquito PR.41 A52-313. Received 2AD Richmond ex De Havillands
10.12.47
Received 3AD Amberley ex 2AD for storage
7.2.51
Received 87 Squadron, Canberra ex 3AD to incorporate mods
14.2.51
Received 1AD Laverton to incorporate mods
5.4.51
Received 87 Squadron ex 1AD for aerial mapping. Based Townsville until 3.5.51
7.5.51
Minor damage to airframe, repairable at unit. Serviceable 10.5.51
3.10.52
Received De Havilland Aircraft, Bankstown ex 87 Sqn for major service
15.11.53
Received 2AD Richmond ex DH
8.12.53
Received 1AD Detachment B Tocumwal ex 2AD for storage
5.54
Sold by Department of Supply to World Wide Surveys Inc, Philadelphia PA
22.5.54
A52-313 ferried Tocumwal to Sydney Airport, Flt Lt Max Galloway and Joe Mullins (Aero Service Corp)

Modified at Sydney by Aero Service Corp engineers to install a Wild vertical camera and photographer position inside the rear fuselage
7.6.54
Registered N1597V World Wide Surveys Inc, Philadelphia PA
7.6.54
US CofA issued at Sydney

DCA file reference:
"Two photo-reconnaissance Mosquito aircraft were acquired from disposals by Mr. M. Lawrence of Sepal Pty Ltd, acting as agents for an American aerial survey organisation Word-Wide Surveys Incorporated.
The aircraft were processed by De Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney for the issue of United States Registration and Airworthiness certificates. These documents were issued by a CAA representative during one of the regular visits by these officers to Sydney to inspect the maintenance organisation of Pan American Airways at Sydney. Registration marking and certificates were issued to one aircraft N1596V on 29 May 1954 and the other N1597V on 7 June 1954"
12.6.54
Departed Sydney on ferry to Labuan, Borneo for high level photographic mapping contract, flown by Garroway and Mullins. Refuelled at Cloncurry, Darwin, Sorong (Netherlands New Guinea),
arrived Labuan 15.6.54

Flew aerial mapping missions from Labuan, pilot Garroway with a navigator and camera operator from Aero Service Corp
21.9.54
N1596V & N1597V arrived Darwin from Labuan via Sorong at the completion of the Borneo survey.
Both continued to Camden NSW where they were stored in a hangar leased by Sepal Pty Ltd and occasionally test flown by Max Garroway
5.55
Modified at Camden for mineral survey by a US team headed by Aero Service Corp's chief scientist
Homer Jensen.  A magnetometer was installed inside the fuselage with an operator position.
5.55
Test flights at Camden to trial the magnetometer sensor 
21.5.55
N1597V departed Camden for Broome WA to conduct an oil search over the Canning Desert for WA Petroleum Co. Flown by Garroway, with navigator Richard Brown and magetometer operator Vince Bertino, the Mosquito was maintained at Broome by engineers Tony Maurier and Paddy McCarthy
8.7.55
Starboard Merlin failed while over desert, Garroway returned to Broome and attempted to jettison the two wing drop tanks which were full of fuel. The starboard tank would not release, causing a difficult landing.
3.9.55
Broome survey completed. N1597V ferried to Perth WA for a small survey job
3.9.55
Max Garroway logbook: Local flight Perth. Also 4th and 6th September
9.9.55
Max Garroway logbook: Perth survey (completed in one day)
10.55
DCA file memo: both Mosquitos are in the Sepal hangar at Camden
7.56
N1597V test flown at Camden, fitted for high altitude photographic survey. Pilot Max Garroway
8.56-10.56
N1597V flown on a high altitude photographic survey of northern NSW, based Tamworth.
Crewed by Captain Max Garroway, copilot/navigator Ken Rowlands and camera operator Kevin Pavlich, all three transferred from the Hudson VH-SMM leased by Sepal for World Wide Surveys.

Kevin Pavlich logbook extracts for N1597V:
5.8.56      Dubbo camera test flights
8.8.56      Sydney Harbour camera run 25,000 feet
10.8.56    Camden-Tamworth, based Tamworth next two months
14.8.56    commenced 25,000 ft photo survey runs northern NSW, many days abandoned due cloud 
29.10.56  landed Coffs Harbour after flying Lines 16 & 5 at 25,000 ft outside air temperature -24C
30.10.56  ferried Tamworth-Camden, 55 mins (right hand seat)
30.10.56
Arrived Camden from Tamworth survey job.
11.56
Retired and parked in the Sepal hangar at Camden. N1596V became VH-WWS 2.11.56
5.57
US CofA expired
58
N1597V and VH-WWS stripped airframes burnt at Camden NSW

Noel H. Notley, former Sepal Pty Ltd chief engineer at Camden had joined with Morry Lawrence to form Lawrence Engineering and Sales Pty Ltd in August 1957 to take over the licenced workshop in the Camden hangar. (see DH.82 Tiger Moths-LES production in this series).
Noel later wrote:  "We started to dismantle the two Mosquitos, selling the engines, propellers, hydraulic components, oxygen systems, instruments and radios over a 6 to 9 month period. It then reached a point where it was not viable for them to occupy hangar space. So the two Mosquitos were towed out to a clear area on the aerodrome, jacked up to remove the wheels and let down on the undercarriage legs. Petrol was spilled in and around the aircraft and they were set alight. Being wooden construction, they burnt to the ground. The remaining metal components were cleared up and dumped at the tip."


The two World-Wide Surveys Mosquitos under the palm frond hangar at Labuan, Borneo in 1954.
Photo by Ken Dlack of Aero Service Corp, via Norm Malayney


Labuan, Borneo 1954.                                                  Photo by Max Garroway via Doug Morrison


N1597V at Camden NSW in May 1955 during test flights after the installation magnetometer equipment.
Photo by Morry Lawrence via Doug Morrison


Aero Service Corporation chief scientist Homer Jensen at Camden, kitted up for
a test flight in N1957V.           Photo by Morry Lawrence via Doug Morrison


N1597V survey team at Broome 1955, Australian pilot Max Garroway far left
Photo: Aero Service Corp via Doug Morrison


Nothing but the best in 1955 Broome WA accommodation for the survey team
Photo: Aero Service Corp via Doug Morrison

    *                       *                        *                       *                        *                      *                    *                   *
Aero Service Corporation, Philadelphia
                 In August 1957 the last World-Wide Surveys Australian Mosquito contract was completed when VH-WWS returned to Camden from a photographic survey at Portuguese Timor. At the same time in the United States, the World-Wide Surveys joint venture was being dissolved, Aero Service Corp and Fairchild Aerial Surveys going their separate ways. It had been profitable, but beset with problems, personality clashes and disputes over the different ways each company handled its staff, such as incentive bonuses paid to pilots for hours flown not given to other aircrew. The end of Morry Lawrence's agency role in late 1957 resulted in World Wide Aerial Surveys (Australia) Ltd being wound up and his loss his company Sepal Pty Ltd, which in the carve-up of Australian assets ended up being acquired by his bitter rival Adastra Aerial Surveys Ltd, Sydney.

                 During 1957 Morry Lawrence formed a new operation to retain his Camden hangar and facilities. xxxxxxx

to set up a new operation Lawrence Engineering and Sales Pty Ltd and Lawrence Engineering Services.



                          Aircraft magazine December 1957                                                  Aircraft magazine March 1959
              

               Lawrence continued his agency relationship with Aero Service Corp, Philadelphia. In 1960 in anticipation of a boom in large scale geophysical & photogrammetric survey for minerals and oil across Australia, his company M.J.Lawrence Holdings Pty Ltd established an associate Aero Service Ltd, Sydney.  Having contracted a series of new Australian survey jobs, in July 1960 Aero Service Corp (USA) sent a PA-23 Apache 160 N3182P to Australia to commence a series of surveys. The Apache was equipped with magnetometer sensor in a tail boom and was serviced  at Camden by Noel Notley to become VH-MJL and commence six years of Australian surveys. It was followed by Cessna 180 VH-MZR, DC-3 N9032H (VH-MJR), Aero Commanders N6108Y (VH-MJJ) and N830Q, all carrying out photographic or mineral/oil survey work managed by Morry Lawrence's Aero Service Ltd. This included a film processing facility at Rocky Point Road, Ramsgate, Sydney with full geophysical data processing, photography labs, photogrammetric facilities and a staff of 30 when it ceased in 1965. At that time Aero Service Corp's Australian survey work was taken over by Gale Air Pty Ltd, Sydney.
                 Morry Lawrence left aviation to move on to other business ventures including real estate, retail stores and sales agencies.


Aero Service Corp's world-travelling survey DC-3 N9032H became VH-MJR with Aero Service Ltd 1961-1965.
Seen at Adelaide in December 1964 while conducting a two week magnetometer survey of St Vincents Gulf.
Photo by John M. Smith, courtesy SA Aviation Museum

    *                       *                        *                       *                        *                      *                    *                   *
3. Other RAAF Mosquito disposals

                    Earlier post-war Mosquito disposals had been to scrap metal merchants at "aircraft remnants"token prices, most probably were burnt to easily retrieve the engines and metal fittings.A few were resold to farmers from the main storage base RAAF Tocumwal NSW.
                    Following the retirement in 1953 of the last RAAF Mosquitos of No.87 (Survey) Squadron, all Mosquito stocks were handed over to the Deparment of Supply for disposal action.  During 1954 Mosquitos began appearing in DoS auction sales lists inviting bids. These were Mk.16 and Mk.41 photo recce aircraft generally still in good condition. Those not sold remained in RAAF storage in the open weather to be later re-advertised in much poorer condition as late as 1958.

Aviation Export Co Inc, Los Angeles CA:
During 1953 aircraft dealers AEC's founder
Claire M. Waterbury had visited NZ and Australia to purchase Mosquitos: see A52-313  above.
The following year AEC submitted a bid for another three RAAF Mosquitos, resulting in a lengthy dispute:

RAAF Mosquito Mk.16s A52-602, -608, -610
- In May 1954 AEC was the successful tenderer to the Department of Supply for these three Mosquitos plus spare tyres, radiators and Merlin 31 engines. The aircraft were stored at RAAF 3AD Detachment at Archerfield Airport, Brisbane, Queensland. Terms of sale required payment within 30 days and collection within 60 days.
- No reply from AEC to three letters from Dept of Supply regarding final payment and collection of the aircraft
- 21 February 1955 letter from Dept of Supply to AEC stated that unless monies owed are paid within 21 days the goods will be resold and the deposit would be forfeited.
No reply.
- 10 May 1955 the 3 Mosquitos plus parts were resold to Wilmore Aviation Co for a total of 135 from 3AD Detachment Archerfield Airport
and broken up for parts
- 10 June 1955 letter from Dept of Supply to AEC advising of the resale and confirming that their deposit was forfeited
However.....
- The three Mosquitos had been resold by AEC to military disposals aircraft dealer Robert F. Bean trading as Bob Bean Aircraft Inc, Hawthorne Municiple Airport, California.
- 14 January 1955 letter from Bob Bean to Officer Commanding, RAAF Archerfield advising that he had purchased the three AEC Mosquitos and asked what storage charges were outstanding
- 27 January 1955 letter OC Archerfield to Bean advising no storage fees were owed and it was anticipated that no demand would be made when he collected the aircraft
- RAAF Archerfield did not advise Department of Supply of this correspondence with Bean Aircraft Inc
- 6 December 1956 letter Bob Bean to Department of Supply Director of Contracts enquiring on the status of his three Mosquitos
- 1 February 1957 letter from Dept of Supply to Bean setting out the sales record and advising that the aircraft had been resold
- 25 March 1957 letter from Bob Bean Aircraft Inc to Dept of Supply demanding compensation, based on their correspondence with RAAF Archerfield confirming their ownership
- 17 April 1957 Dept of Supply refer the file to the Australian Crown Solicitor for a legal opinion: response states "Mr. Bean appears to have acted in good faith. An oversight was made by someone in the Commonwealth of Australia."
- 28 May 1957 letter from Dept of Supply to Bean offering to credit him with 135 (Aust)  to be used as a deposit on any future tender he may lodge. In separate correspondence Bean asks if P&W R-1830 Twin Wasps were available but none at that time.
- 15 September 1957 Australian Crown Solicitor memo: "The Department of Supply Contract Board has been placed in a embarassing position because of the failure of the RAAF to advise it of correspondence received from Bob Bean Aircraft Inc that they had purchased the aircraft from Aviation Export Co Inc, the original purchaser."
- Department of Supply file ends.

Survair Pty Ltd, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne Vic: An aerial survey company which planned to use RAAF disposals PR Mosquitos for civil photographic survey and mapping. Survair was registered in 1955 by the two partners of Super Spread Aviation at Moorabbin, Ernest "Ernie" Tadgell and Austin "Aussie" Miller.
- February 1956 Survair Pty Ltd was the successful bidder for Mosquitos offered by Dept of Supply.
- 25 March 1957 letter from Dept of Supply to Survair Pty Ltd: "Despite repeated requests you have not taken delivery of the aircraft. Storage costs to 30 March 1957 are 103. The Department of Air advises that it is not prepared to allow the aircraft to remain any longer on RAAF premises. Unless the storage fee is paid within 21 days, the aircraft will be resold." No reply
(The Dept of Supply file does not identify the aircraft involved, their location, or whether the sale was one or more aircraft)

One can summise that after bidding for the aircraft, the partners approached DCA with their plans, to learn that the Department would not allow civil operation of ex military combat types such as the Mosquito. The few that had flown were under foreign registration or on a special case dispensation. Nothing further heard of Survair Pty Ltd.

Wilmore Aviation Services Pty Ltd, Sydney:  This aviation parts supply business was formed as a partnership between Sydney stockbroker flying enthusiast Joseph R. Palmer and experienced aircraft engineer Walter H. Morley. An associate company was Wilmore Aviation Co.  In 1949 Wilmore purchased six ex RAAF Lockheed Hudsons with spare engines and parts, left over at Camden NSW following early postwar civil conversions. The Hudson inventory was resold to East-West Airlines, Tamworth NSW.  Among other military disposals aircraft acquired by Wilmore were several RAAF Mustang fighters, one being retained and registered VH-WAS to Wilmore Aviation Services, flown by Joe Palmer from Bankstown until 1961.
Wilmore's Mosquito purchases were as follows:

- May 1955 three Mosquito 16s A52-602, -608, -610 plus spare parts including tyres, radiators and Merlin 31 engines, for a total price 135. These were the three not collected after earlier sale  to Aviation Export Co, Los Angeles (see preceeding AEC entry)

- March 1958 eight PR.41s A52-315, -316, -317, -318, -320, -321, -322, -323 stored at 3AD's Archerfield detachment. They were broken up for engines, instrumentation, tyres and other components.

- Prior to these purchases however, Wilmore had briefly owned Mosquito A52-600 offered for disposal in early 1954 at RAAF Ballarat Vic.
The twists and turns in the story of this aircraft's disposal make it worthy of a detailed history:

             Mosquito  PR.XVI  A52-600                                                                      (VH-JUX), RAAF Museum

Built by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hatfield as part of order for 250 Mosquito Mk.XVI .
Completed as a PR. XVI photo reconnaisance model with RAF serial NS631

Allotted to RAAF, shipped to Australia
25.11.44
Taken on RAAF charge as A52-600. Received 2AD Richmond ex UK
4.3.45
Received 87 (PR) Squadron, Coomalie Creek NT ex 2AD
23.3.45
First operational PR sortie, to Timor and return
11.8.45
Last wartime sortie over Kuching POW camp, Borneo. A52-600 had flown 21 missions over enemy territory over the Netherland East Indies and Borneo
11.7.46
Received Survey Flight ex 87 Sqn. Unit code "SU-A". Unit later renamed Survey Squadron
9.7.47
Allotted 3AD Storage Archerfield for storage
16.7.47
Previous allotment cancelled. Reallotted Air and Ground Radio School, Ballarat for instructional purposes
28.7.47
Received AGRS Ballarat ex Survey Flight
22.10.47
Approval to convert to Instructional Airframe No.4
3.4.52
Held at AGRS with Merlin engines Instructional 82 & 83 installed
4.12.53
To be listed by Department of Supply for disposal
2.54
Dept of Supply Disposal List No.1/54 included Mosquito A52-600 and Mustang A68-39 both both described as instructional airframes located at RAAF Ballarat
.54
Both aircraft sold by Dept of Supply to Wilmore Aviation Services (Victoria) Pty Ltd

Dept of Supply file minute 19.10.54: "The experience of this Department has been that instructional airframes have little sales value and as a result public tenders were invited in Melbourne and Sydney only. It was not surprising when only one tender was received. This tender from Wilmore Aviation Services (Victoria) Pty Ltd was 105 for the Mosquito and 206 for the Mustang.
The Mustang was removed on 15 July 1954. When it was learnt by this Department that the aircraft was flown out of Ballarat Station, a further check with the Department of Air disclosed that although internal directions had been issued for these two aircraft to be reduced to instructional airframes by remobal of engines etc, the instructions were not implemented. Instead of our Department selling two airframes of little value, two complete aircraft were involved in this transaction."

(Mustang A68-39 was sold by Wilmore to Fawcett Aviation, Sydney and became VH-BOY in 10.59 when DCA approved Fawcett to use ex RAAF Mustangs as target tugs for military support operations)
10.54
Mosquito A52-600 is still at Ballarat, not yet collected. RAAF Ballarat Commanding Officer has been informed that Wilmore had resold it to W. F. Gordon, Strathmore Vic, a scrap metal dealer.

Removal of A52-600 placed on hold while Dept of Supply seeks advice from Australian Crown Solicitor. The Dept is concerned that complete aircraft have been sold for prices below normal values.
The legal opinion is that the sale of the Mosquito should be cancelled then offered again as an airframe only without engines, which could be listed aseparately.
15.11.54
Wilmore Aviation Services agrees to the cancellation of the Mosquito sale and refund of  105, conditional on Wilmore retaining the Mustang. Dept of Supply agreed

A52-600 remained parked with Merlins installed in an AGRS hangar at Ballarat

Included in later Dept of Supply disposal lists without sale
.57
Acquired for 50 by Ernst H. Voullaire, Monak NSW. The wings were sawn off at the fuselage to allow it to be transported by road from Ballarat to his fruit orchard at Monak, near Mildura Vic.

After unloading at the Monak property, reassembling the aircraft proved too difficult, so it was left dismantled
.67
Discovered by a team from the Warbirds Aviation Museum which proprietor Pearce Dunn was establishing at Mildura Airport. Remains of RAAF Ansons, Mustangs and a V-S Kingfisher had been located on farms in the Mildura district but the Mosquito was an unexpected bonus

Pearce Dunn negotiated with Mr.Voullaire to purchase the Mosquito "as is"
23.9.67
Collected by Pearce Dunn for Warbirds Aviation Museum, Mildura Airport Vic
Loaded on trucks and moved to Mildura Airport where stored dismantled in the one remaining wartime Bellman hangar, where Pearce was storing his aircraft

Warbirds Aviation Museum set up at Mildura Airport on the foundations of the buildings of the wartime RAAF station. Aircraft were moved into the museum compound but the Mosquito remained in the hangar
82
Pearce Dunn rationalised his museum collection by selling certain aircraft to raise funds for buildings and improvements. The Mosquito was offered for sale
9.83
A52-600 was sold to Vincent Thomas, Alan Lane and Geoff Milne, Albury NSW
This partnership of military aircraft enthusiasts had purchased incomplete P-51D Mustang A68-674 from Pearce Dunn the previous year and just acquired a CAC Wirraway A20-652 from Melbourne as  restoration projects

Stored dismantled at Albury NSW
.83
Registration VH-JUX reserved, but little restoration of the airframe achieved
.87
Traded to RAAF Museum, RAAF Point Cook Vic
Transported from Albury to RAAF Laverton where RAAF Museum had a storage hangar.
.90
Airfreighted from RAAF Laverton to RAAF Richmond by C-130.  Restoration commenced on fuselage.
Displayed ina hangar for a 1991 airshow
31.3.98
Transported from RAAF Richmond to RAAF Point Cook by C-130. Stored by RAAF Museum
3.02
Restoration commenced in RAAF Museum restoration hangar Point Cook

Restoration continues at Point Cook


A52-600 with 87 Squadron during 1945.                                                     Photo: Pearce Dunn collection


A52-600 "SU-A" at the farm near Monak NSW in December 1966.                         Photo by Geoff Gooodall


Being loaded on a truck at Monak in September 1967 by Pearce Dunn, seen on the trailer, hand on the nose.
It was moved to Mildura Vic for his fledgling Warbirds Aviation Museum.            Photo by Geoff Goodall


A52-600 continues its long-term restoration at RAAF Museum, Point Cook Vic.        Photo: RAAF Museum


4.  RAF Mosquitos sold from Narromine NSW 
            Forty RAF Mosquitos were shipped from Britain to Australia from late 1944 when RAF No.618 Squadron was deployed to Australia to participate in the the British Commonwealth component of the allied advance on Japan. In the event, these plans were overtaken by General MacArthur's American forces island-hopping campaign to Japan.
            618 Sqn had been one of two squadrons formed specifically to drop Barnes Wallis' remarkable Highball "bouncing bombs". The other was 617 Squadron with Lancasters, which carried out the famous low-level Dam Busters raid on German dams. The Mosquito squadron was sent to Australia to work up in preparation to using Highball on Japanese targets. Four of these Mosquitos were lost in accidents in Australia.
            RAAF Station Narromine in central NSW was selected as the Australian base for 618 Squadron's Mosquitos, where training got under way.  The squadron's support aircraft were six Fairey Barracudas. However the planned British participation in the allied advance on Japan did not take place and 618 Squadron was disbanded in July 1945 and its personnel sailed for India. The Mosquitos were offered to the RAAF but because of operational differences to the Mosquitos then in RAAF service (Australian and British built) the offer was declined and they were left behind, lined up Narromine. The Barracudas were shipped back to Britain and the 125 stored Highball bombs were detonated in controlled explosions. 
           The little-known story of 618 Squadron's time in Australia is told in detail in David Vincent's excellent book Mosquito Monograph.


RAAF Station Narromine NSW 1947. RAF 618 Squadron's Mosquitos were about to be sold to local farmers.
Note the 4 bladed propellers on the aircraft in the rear row.                               Photo  via Derek Macphail

              In July 1947 advertisements were placed in the Narromine and nearby town newspapers for an auction of the remaining 36 Mosquitos at Narromine aerodrome. The advertisement stated that all had various parts removed but 14 still had their engines installed. They were sold to farmers for prices between 15-35 and towed home on their wheels to become sources for nuts and bolts, electrical wiring, switches, hydaulic lines and many other parts in short supply in the post-war austerity years.    (See Ansons and Oxfords on SA Farms in this series)

Typical of the Narromine disposals, RAF Mosquito B. IV DZ582 "U" seen on Mr. R. McNally's farm near
Narromine soon after he towed it home in 1947.                                 Photo: Pearce Dunn collection

                       In more recent times, various parties have searched farming properties in the Narromine-Dubbo district for any remains of these RAF Mosquitos to assist on-going restoration projects. Because of the wooden construction, the majority had fallen apart due to exposure to the weather, but substantial sections were found as well as many valuable parts.  At a more sinister level, unconfirmed reports say a shipping container packed with farm Mosquito parts destined for New Zealand projects was stolen prior to shipping and the contents disappearing. Three identified aircraft have been salvaged:

- DZ542 Mosquito B.IV: The weathered remains on a farm in the Narromine district were collected circa 1988 and sent to New Zealand to Mosquito enthusiast Glynn Powell. He traded as Mosquito Aircraft Restoration Ltd, Auckland and had devised a commercial method to rebuild the complex Mosquito airframe wooden structures. Glynn has now teamed up with Avspecs at Ardmore Airport, Auckland who are restoring Mosquitos to airworthy. The restored fuselage of DZ542 was moved to Ardmore in 2015 for a joint venture to get another Mosquito back into the air.

- DZ625 Mosquito B.IV: In March 1948 Mr. Frank Hatter, Tullamore NSW towed DZ625 from Narromine to his property. He later  moved the aircraft to another farming property near Canowindra NSW, and stored surviving substantial sections in a shed at Forbes NSW. They were collected in the 1990s by the Australian War Memorial to provide parts for their restoration of VH-WAD to disolay standared.

- HR621 Mosquito FB.VI:  Found in 1968 on the farm of Mr. M.Powell, Tomingley NSW by members of the Camden Museum of Aviation. It was in the best condition of Mosquitos located and Mr. Powell agreed to donate the aircraft to the museum. During October 1968 it was moved by road 450 km to Sydney. Parts from 7 other Mosquitos were collected for the museum's restoration project. HR621's cockpit section was stored in Alan Thomas' home garage in the Sydney suburb of Kogarah where he commenced working on its restoration.
The Camden Museum of Aviation was started in 1963 by experienced Sydney aircraft engineer Harold Thomas, who leased a hangar at Camden Airport  to house his growing collection of aeroplanes. Later the collection was moved to nearby Narellan to a newly-built display hangar on private property where Harold and his son Alan continued to maintain their private collection. Unfortunately mounting costs have forced the closure of the museum to the public at the present time.  During the 1970s all Mosquito components were moved to the Narellan hangar where reassembly commenced. It is a long-term project, but the Camden Museum of Aviation is congratulated for what they have achieved.
                     

                          RAF Mosquito FB.VI HR621 slowly coming back together at Camden Museumn of Aviation, Narellan NSW
Photo taken in 2014 by Ian McDonell

     *                     *                   *                     *                   *                    *                 *                   *                  *

5. FOOTNOTE: A novel use for Mosquito wing drop tanks:
                      Record floods in western NSW during 1950 caused a particular problem for prominent pastoralist Mr. George Falkiner, proprietor of the succerssful Haddon Rig stud near Warren. He had 56 prize merino rams worth over 7,000 to be transported to an important sheep sale in Brisbane. However they were stranded by flood water on high ground 12 miles from the homestead. George Falkiner had been involved in aviation for many years and flew his Waco biplane VH-AAF to his Sydney office.  Showing great ingenuity,  he arranged the hasty purchase of 10 Mosquito wing drop tanks from the RAAF Stores Depot at nearby Dubbo. The staff at Haddon Rig constructed two rafts mounted on the tanks for flotation.
                       In a 10 day operation, the sheep were loaded on a float, a few at a time, then pulled by men in a row boat actross 4 miles of flood waters to land where thery were transferred to a horse-pulled dray to another stretch of water. Here they were loaded on the second raft and pulled to a road where they were loaded on livestock trucks. Falkiner had hired an Australian National Airways (ANA) DC-3 freighter to collect the rams from the Haddon Rig airstrip but the ground was too boggy, so the plan was changed for the DC-3 to land at Dubbo. The sheep were sent to Dubbo in two groups, 37 by train from Warren to Dubbo, the remainder by trucks via a circuitous route to avoid flooded roads. The ANA DC-3 flew them to Brisbane in two trips, and the Haddon Rig rams sold for record prices at the Brisbane sales.           


A load of valuable sheep being moved across floodwaters on one of the rafts made from Mosquito drop tanks.
This photo was taken by Haddon Rig stockman Alex McDonald in July 1950.     Courtesy Roger McDonald

This splendid shot taken by RAAF wartime photographer John T. Harrison illustrates Mosquito underwing wing drop tanks:


                    "Break to port"- these RAAF No.1 Squadron Mosquito FB.VIs were at RAAF Amberley Qld on 17 July 1945, prior to
                       
deployment to Borneo during the final days of the Pacific war.      The  photograph was taken from a B-25 Mitchell

   
Endpiece: A Kiwi Mosquito in California:
                  American military aircraft dealer Robert F. Bean (see Part 3 above) purchased six RNZAF Mosquitos in 1953 in the name of his company Aircraft Sales Inc, Los Angeles California. They were civil registered ZK-BCT to ZK-BCX and two were delivered to USA by the same ferry crew as N4928V from Sydney (see part 2 above). At that stage the New Zealand Government blocked further departures, citing concerns that they could be destined for clandestine military use overseas. Here's one that reached California:


Mosquito FB.VI N9909F (ex NZ2384) was photographed by Eddie Coates in 1958 at Pacoima, California,
where it was serviced by Volitan Inc for owner California Air Charter. Previous NZ registration ZK-BCV
is readable on the fuselage. Volitan later produced the Volpar range of Beech 18 modifications.


References:
This story could not have been compiled without the assistance of Doug Morrison in Sydney, who willingly shared his extensive research into early magnetometer aerial survey in Australia. Thank you Doug.

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne
- DCA file VH-WWS/N1596V, National Archives of Australia, Sydney
- DCA file VH-WAD, National Archives of Australia, Perth
- Log book of Sepal air survey camera operator Kevin Pavlich, courtesy Ron Cuskelly
- National Library of Australia: Trove newspaper search site
- Airforce Association (WA) file for VH-WAD
- US Civil Aircraft Register, FAA site: http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Inquiry.aspx
- Adastra Aerial Surveys website: http://www.adastron.com/adastra/aircraft/misc/mosquito.htm
- Mosquito Monograph - A history of Mosquitoes in Australia and RAAF Operations, David Vincent, self-published Adelaide 1982
- The Last Working Aussie Mossies, Doug Morrison, Flightpath magazine, Melbourne, August-October 2000
- California Mosquitoes, Norman Malayney, American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Spring 2002
- N1596V and N1597V The Last of the Aussie Mossies, Doug Morrison, American Aviation Historical Society Journal, Fall 2010'
- De Havilland Aircraft Since 1919, A. J. Jackson, Putnam, London 1978
- British Military Aircraft Serials 1911-1979, Bruce Robertson, Patrick Stephens, Cambridge 1979
- Jimmy Woods Flying Pioneer, Julie Lewis, Fremantle Arts Centre Press 1989
- Information from Ron Cuskelly, Roger McDonald, Chris O'Neill, Derek Macphail, Neville Parnell


Back to the Australian Aviation Menu