Last updated 8.11.13

NOORDUYN NORSEMAN IN AUSTRALIA

Compiled by Geoff Goodall


             


Heading pictures:

Top:  The Royal Australian Air Fiorce operated 14 Noorduyn Norsemans. A71-10 was coded KF-H while with No.5 Communications Unit, based Garbutt Field, Townsville. Ben Dannecker collection

-  The last Norseman flying in Australia was VH-GSG, being used for mineral survey operations, seen at Bankstown in June 1970. Photo by Roger McDonald


  The RAAF received 14 Norsemans issued to the Australian Government under Lend/Lease from the US Government, serials A71-1 to A71-14.  They came from USAAF stocks, as part of large American orders the Candian built Norseman utility transport under the USAAF type designation UC-64A.


  Retired in early 1946, the surviving Norsemans were flown to RAAF Tocumwal NSW for storage in the many large hangars on the base previously used to house RAAF Liberator bombers. An exception was A71-8, which was held at RAAF Ground Training School at RAAF Forest Hill, Wagga NSW. At Tocumwal the remaining Norsemans were stored and maintained in good condition because of a proposal that RAAF Norsemans may be used in a future Antarctic Expedition.  In the event, retired RAAF Vought Sikorsky Kingfisher floatplanes were taken to Antarctica in 1948. All Norsemans were then handed over to the Commonwealth Disposals Commission for civil sale.


  Gibbes Sepik Airways at Wewak, New Guinea was the main operator of Norsemans, owning a total of nine former RAAF aircraft. Company founder, wartime RAAF fighter ace R.H. "Bobby" Gibbes, put down a deposit on his first Norseman in April 1948 but before he could take delivery he was angered by a bureaucratic response from DCA Head Office in Melbourne refusing to allow the type to be introduced in Papua New Guinea "because of high stalling speed, fairly high takeoff and landing runs....in the event of a forced landing, likely serious injuries would result."  Gibbes challenged the decision, appealed to Government ministers and DCA backed down, later admitting that it was far safer than the DH.83 and DH.84 biplanes then in widespread use in New Guinea.  The Norsemans went on to prove themselves extremely efficient workhorses for New Guinea and became an essential part of the post-war recovery. They could carry a cargo payload of 2300 pounds, just under a ton - with side-saddle seats they carried 16 natives plus two crew. They are remembered for their rugged design, but were very draughty and noisy in the cabin. Despite high hours flown over mountainous terrain and numerous forced landings, in their 11 years of airline service in New Guinea, only one person was killed in a Norseman accident.


  After a series of in-flight failures of the original direct drive Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1s with two bladed propellers, in 1952 Bobby Gibbes attempted to purchase from RAAF 20 P&W R-1340-S1H1-G geared for three-bladed propellers as used on RAAF Wirraways. After his application was refused, Sydney businessman and pastoralist George Fawkiner, who had originally supported Gibbes' acquisition of Norsemans, arranged a meeting between Gibbes and the Minister for Air, William McMahon. Gibbes got his engines.  Stress, balance and weight calculations for the Norsemans re-engined with these geared R-1340s with three bladed props were approved by DCA.


  The re-engining was carried out progressively commencing February 1953 in the Gibbes Sepik Airways workshops at Wewak: it added 90 Kg to the empty weight of the aircraft, so a series of modifications to lower weight were carried out Wewak: the starboard cabin door was removed and the space covered by stringers and fabric, the front doors replaced by lightweight duralium and fabric, the rear locker was removed, engine cowlings modified and new lightweight Lear radios were installed. The end result was a more powerful aircraft and a payload increase of 1089 Kg.  Later Mandated Airlines took over Gibbes Sepik Airways and was then itself absorbed into Ansett-MAL.  In the early 1960s the surviving three Ansett-MAL Norsemans were retired when replaced by more modern types.


Agricultural Norsemans


  These final three New Guinea based Norsemans were purchased by agricultural company Pay & Williamson Pty Ltd, a partnership between Colin Pay and Brian Williamson based at Narromine NSW, moving to Scone NSW in 1964.   Detailed modifications to fit a large hopper in the cabin for super spreading were approved by DCA and resulted in three crop dusters with similar payload to the CA-28 Ceres but at a much lower cost.  Col Pay wrote in a letter to the compiler:
  "The Norseman aircraft were operated on superphosphate spreading and were capable to listing 25 cwt (hundred-weight) on a regular basis. The heaviest load we carried in the Norseman was 32 cwt. The hopper conversion for these aircraft was carried out at Bathurst by ground engineer Mr. A. H.Wood. With regard to manoeuvrability they were considered to be reasonable given the size and original design of the aircraft, and were in fact considered to be highly successful in their role as agricultural aircraft."


  

  VH-GSE & GSF cropdusting from a strip in NSW circa 1966.  Ben Dannecker collection

  Pay & Williamson also used their Norsemans for large-scale seeding in the Blackall district of Queensand.  As an indication of their high utilisation, Pay & Williamson pilot David Scott flew 1,400 hours of dusting in VH-GSE & GSG in just 16 months in 1964-65. He later wrote to the compiler:

  "The Norseman hopper could hold 32 cwt of super and I only carried this full load for 15 trips off a strip which was on top of a ridge, flying down into a valley. They would carry one ton to 26 cwt which was the best working load depending on the strip and the wind. It was an easy aircraft to fly, handled well and made Col Pay a lot of money. Nigel Harrel flew Ceres with Air Farm at Tamworth and came to Pays in late 1963 to fly the first Norseman GSF. He said it was a better aircraft all round than the Ceres."




This listing of Australian Norsemans is presented in order of RAAF serial:



c/n 179        A71-1


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5188.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
26.10.43 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-1. Received No.2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown ex USA
10.1.44 Received No.5 Communications Unit, Townsville Qld ex 2AP
20.8.44 Crashed into sea off New Guinea. Engine failed at 11AM on a flight from Horn Island to Merauke, ditched into sea 8 miles SE Coigu Island, New Guinea. Pilot Flt Sgt F. H. Rossiter and 6 passengers. 3 passengers were rescued.
1.9.44 Approval given for write-off.

c/n 180        A71-2


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5189.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
26.10.43 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-2. Received No.2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown ex USA
7.12.43 Received No.9 Communications Unit, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea ex 2AP.

9CU renamed No. 9 Local Air Supply, however RAAF Status Cards only refers to 9CU
19.12.43 Received No.15 Aircraft Repair Depot, Wards Strip, Port Moresby for engine repairs. Engine found to be serviceable. The fault is in the design of the exhaust manifold, which a simple modification will remedy. Local manufacture of parts is proceeding
13.1.44 Received 9CU ex 15ARD
14.4.44 Received 5CU Townsville ex 9CU
20.4.44 Pilot Log: flown Bowen-Townsville by Pilot Officer Wright of 5CU
3.8.44 Aircraft flyable at light load for ferry to Aircraft Depot
16.8.44 Received 6AD Oakey ex 5CU for repairs
25.10.44 Received 5CU Townsville ex 6AD
13.4.45 Airframe undamaged in forced landing after takeoff Garbutt Field, Townsville Qld due engine failure
4.6.45 serviceable at 5CU
31.10.45 Allotted No.13 Aircraft Repair Depot, Breddan airfield, Charters Towers Qld for renewal of upper fabric. Allotted 5CU on completion
18.2.46 Request authority to convert to components
28.2.46 Allotted 13ARD Breddan for conversion
18.3.46 Approval for conversion to components


c/n 181        A71-3            VH-BNT

6.5.43 Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5190.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.
25.8.43 Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
26.10.43 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-3.
31.10.43 Received No.2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown ex USA
5.12.43 Received No.5 Communicatons Unit, Townsville ex 2AP
19.12.44 Forced landing Burdekin River on travel flight. Sqn Ldr W.L.Milne and 1 crew both unhurt.
27.12.44 No.6 Central Recovery Depot, Breddan Qld to salvage the aircraft and deliver to 5CU for repairs
20.1.45 Received No.13 Aircraft Repair Depot, Breddan for repair
11.3.45 Received 5CU ex 13ARD
18.3.46 Issued to No.7 Aircraft Depot, Tocumwal NSW ex 5CU for under cover storage
11.10.48 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
24.11.48 Aircraft survey report at Tocumwal: total time 599 hours. Dope on fabric is cracked but is fit to be ferried. Requires extensive reconditioning
2.6.49 Sold by CDC for 2500 to The Zinc Corporation Ltd, Melbourne Vic
28.6.49 Departed Tocumwal, collected by purchaser

Ferried to Broken Hill NSW and stored pending civil conversion


26.6.50 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, New Guinea
.50 Purchased by Gibbes Sepik Airways founder Bobby Gibbes at Broken Hill. Gibbes departed on ferry flight to Sydney where civil conversion was to be carried out for him by Kingsford Smith Aviation Service.

Fabric was in poor condition and sections of fabric tore off the wings in flight through a dust storm near Parkes NSW. Gibbes made a forced landing. KSAS sent out a fabric repair team.

Civil conversion overhaul at Bankstown by KSAS
20.10.50 Registered VH-BNT Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak
20.10.50 CofA issued. Fitted for 2 crew and 16 passengers
10.50 Ferried Sydney to New Guinea by Bobby Gibbes, carrying 600 chickens for his farm
3.11.50 Damaged at Tapini airstrip, PNG
12.50 After temporary repairs at Tapini, ferried to Port Moresby
17.3.51 CofA renewed after repairs
11.53 Flew police and supplies to Telefolmin after native killings
17.4.55 Turned over on to back on landing Ialibu, PNG when ran into a soft spot on the airfield surface. Captain Adrian H, Nisbet was only occupant and was unhurt.
He had departed Madang that morning on a charter flight carrying cargo to Mendi, Tari. Mendi, Erave, Ialibu and return to Madang. Nisbet was making the first commercial arrival at the newly prepared airstrip at Ialibu, which had been opened the previous day after inspection by DCA officers.
23.8.55 Crashed on takeoff Minj PNG.  Engined failed just after becoming airborne due lack of fuel, forced landing straight ahead. Totally wrecked, cargo flight to Mendi. Captain John McDermott received minor injuries.
Gibbes Sepik pilot Adrian Nisbet recalls "He was extremely lucky to get away with that one, because we found him sitting in his seat still. The bits of the aeroplane were scattered all around him, and there he was, strapped in his seat, right side up and sitting on a tuft of kunai grass."
1.11.55 Struck-off Register


c/n 182        A71-4            


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5191.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
24.10.43 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-4. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex USA
20.3.44 Received No.5 Communications Unit, Townsville ex 1AD. Unit code "KF-B"
1.9.44 Pilot log: few Townsville-Ingham, pilot W/Officer W. Bauer
2.10.44 Received No.13 Aircraft Repair Depot, Breddan Airfield, Charters Towers Qld ex 5CU for 240 Hourly inspection. Allotted 5CU on completion.
23.11.45 Pilot log: "KFB" operating at Proserpine Qld, pilot Flying Officer Larkin 5CU
18.1.46 Allotted 7AD Tocumwal ex 5CU for under cover storage
14.2.46
Crashed near Iron Range Qld.
Operated by 5CU delivering rations from Garbutt Airfield, Townsville to Iron Range. After staying overnight at Cairns northbound, stopped at Cooktown then flew into severe weather conditions near Iron Range. Overflew Iron Range but unable to sight the field. Radio contact lost. Aerial search for next four days.
19.2.46 A searching Catalina sighted the wreck.

RAAF Court of Enquiry found that the pilot was attempting to landing at old Claudie airstrip 10 miles south of Iron Range when port wing struck a tree at 2.45pm.  All three on board were killed: Pilot Flying Officer C.W. Law, 1 crew and 1 passenger all killed, aircraft wrecked, total loss.

Site of crash was inaccessible by ground party due to a swollen river, salvage not practical. Recommended write-off.
25.2.46 5CU to carry out conversion in-situ
18.3.46 Approval granted to convert to components

  
  
A71-4 with No.5 Communications Unit Townsville, with unit code "KF-B".  Frank F. Smith collection



c/n 249        A71-5            VH-ASN, VH-GSE  

2.11.43 Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5258.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-5. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
14.11.44 Received 1AD Ferry Flight temporarily, to be retained until such time as it is required to be allotted to another unit
8.2.45 Received No.1 Communications Unit, Essendon Airport, Melbourne ex 1AD Ferry Flight.
Allotted to 1CU to replace A71-9.
18.3.45 A71-5 noted at Essendon
17.6.45 Flew Essendon- Point Cook-Essendon, F/O Bull
30.8.45 Flew Essendon- Point Cook-Essendon, Flt Lt Butcher
12.12.45 Flew Essendon- Point Cook-Essendon, Flt Lt Butcher
1.2.46 Received No.7 Aircraft Depot, Tocumwal NSW for storage under cover
9.9.49 Downgraded storage category, no longer being retained for possible use by Antarctic Expedition
13.2.50 Offered for disposal: good condition, total time 199 hours
27.6.50 Sold by Commonwealth Disposals Commission for 1500 to Gibbes Sepik Airways
18.10.50 RAAF Status Card: Departed Tocumwal, collected by purchaser

Ferried from Tocumwal by Bobby Gibbes, who had arranged their civil overhauls by Riverina Aircraft Service at Albury NSW.  At that time Albury airfield was small and prone to soft muddy surface. Gibbes' autobiography You Live But Once indicates that he ferried the three Norsemans to Deniliquin NSW (probably to be parked in the ex RAAF hangars).
He records that John McInnerney (of Greenfields Air Taxis, Albury) flew Gibbes to Deniliquin in his Auster with fuel in tin cans to collect the Norsemans, which Gibbes then ferried to Albury.


30.10.50 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, New Guinea

Civil conversion at Albury aerodrome NSW by Riverina Aircraft Service c/- L.W.Henderson

Lengthy delays with civil conversion
13.10.51 Testflown Albury after civil conversion
13.10.51 Registered VH-ASN
13.10.51 CofA issued

Delivered to Wewak
18.8.52 Tipped on nose during first ever landing at a newly prepared strip at Tari, PNG
7.53 Forced landing without damage on airstrip at Menyamya PNG after engine failure due oil line burst en route Port Moresby-Goroka. Pilot Rinus Zoydam.  New engine installed and aircraft was flown out.
7.57 Airdrop late July near Karoba PNG, two natives killed when struck by falling supply sacks
11.58 Gibbes Sepik Airways purchased by Mandated Airlines, Lae PNG
30.3.60 Reregistered VH-GSE Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG
1.4.60 Change of ownership: Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG
12.62 Ansett-MAL report: Norsemans GSE & GSF are based at Wewak, only flying occasionally. Both are fitted with side saddle seating
29.1.63 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
12.9.63 Restored to Register VH-GSE: Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae PNG
The original MAL was now a holding company owned by Ansett-MAL
23.10.63 Change of ownership: Pay & Williamson Pty Ltd, Narromine NSW
17.11.63 VH-GSE noted Narromine NSW, parked in hangar. Appears to have piping inside cabin but hopper not yet installed
1.1.64 noted Narromine, in hangar
13.1.64 noted Narromine, in hangar. All silver. Now in service as a cropduster.
4.7.64 David Scott pilot log: local endorsement training at Scone
5.11.65 David Scott pilot log book: his last flight in a Norseman
28.11.65 noted Scone NSW, cabin window behind pilot covered, now has flash lines painted on fuselage and tail, cat cartoon below cockpit windscreen.
10.4.66 noted Gouburn NSW
6.66 noted Scone NSW
26.9.66 Crashed, destroyed by fire near Armidale NSW.  While conducting crop dusting operations, pilot Colin Pay unhurt. (total experience 8,500 hrs, on type 2,000 hrs)
DCA accident report: "The aircraft failed to climb away after becoming airborne and struck the ground again on its main wheels in a gully. On becoming airborne again it struck the top strand of a wire fence then alighted on the main wheels in a rock-strewn paddock, collided with a tractor, overturned and was destroyed by fire."
26.9.66 Struck-off Register

  

  VH-ASN at Bankstown in immaculate condition after an overhaul.  The Collection


  

  VH-ASN in service with Gibbes Sepik Airways. Bob Neate collection

 

 

Rare picture of a Norseman in the Ansett-MAL red tail paint scheme. Fred Niven collection

 

  

  VH-GSE at Narromine NSW, 17 November 1963, hopper in cabin behind the pilot.  Photo by Bob Neate


  

  Scone NSW 28 November 1965, with attractive paint work.  Photo by Neville Parnell





c/n 250        A71-6            VH-GSA  


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5259.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-6. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
9.6.44 Issued No.1 Communications Unit, Essendon ex 1AD
14.9.44 Received No.4 Communications Unit, Archerfield ex 1CU
Allocation to 4CU to replace A71-12.
17.1.46 Received 7AD Tocumwal ex 4CU for under cover storage
11.10.48 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
24.11.48 RAAF Inspection report at Tocumwal: Total time 318 hours. Fit for ferry flight. Doping on fabric is beginning to crack.
2.6.49 Sold by CDC for 2,500 to The Zinc Corporation Ltd, Melbourne Vic
28.6.49 Departed CMU Tocumwal, collected by purchaser


27.10.50 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak PNG

Bobby Gibbes obtained DCA approval for A71-6 to be ferried from Australia to New Guinea for Gibbes Sepik Airways to conduct the civil conversion in their own workshop at Wewak.
24.1.51 A71-6 ready for testflight at Wewak
30.1.51 Airworthy from this date. The formal issue of CofA was delayed.
5.2.51 CofA issued
5.2.51 Registered VH-GSA
14.10.51 Swung into ditch while landing at Lumli PNG. Pilot Robert I. Bell was not injured.
4.10.56 Forced landing at Mount Hagen on a flight Tari-Minj due engine failure.  Pilot diverted to the airfield at Mount Hagen but could not reach the runway and the aircraft overturned short of the runway. Captain John Downie unjurt.
26.9.57 Flew to Lake Kapiagu to search for crashed Gibbes Sepik Airways Norseman VH-BNE. Later dropped supplies to the ground party who were dismantling BNE for ground transportation.
8.7.58
Crashed, destroyed in Mendi Valley, New Guinea
A cargo flight from Minj to Mendi carrying a load of bagged cement. Encountered a thunderstorm, unable to land at Mendi due to the weather then the pilot became lost in clouds. Captain Ron de Forest was killed, the first fatality in the history of Gibbes Sepik Airways
8.7.58 Struck-off Register

  

Gibbes Sepik Airways VH-GSA during a supply dropping run.  Photo by James Sinclair


    Overturned just short of the airfield, Mount Hagen on 4 October 1956. The Collection


  

  VH-GSA rebuilt, unloading freight at Minj PNG circa 1958.  Photo by J.K. Davenport, via Greg Banfield


c/n 251        A71-7            VH-ASR


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5260.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-7. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
24.4.44 visited CAC factory at Fishermans Bend, Melbourne
27.4.44 Flew Laverton-Point Cook
(Station HQ Point Cook Operational Record Book records the visit of this new aircraft type as "Stinson A7-17". identity assumed by compiler)
7.5.44 Issued No.1 Communications Unit, Essendon ex 1AD
2.6.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Laverton
5.6.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Laverton
21.6.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Laverton
22.6.44 Flew Laverton-Point Cook-Laverton
18.7.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Essendon
16.10.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Essendon
9.11.44 Flew Laverton-Point Cook-Essendon
8.2.46 Received 7AD Tocumwal ex 1CU for under cover storage
9.9.49 Storage category downgraded, no longer being retained for possible use by an Antartic Expedition.
13.2.50 Offered for disposal. Good condition, total time 244 hours
27.6.50 Sold for 1500 including installed radio and engine to Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, New Guinea
18.10.50 RAAF Status Card: Departed from CMU Tocumwal, collected by purchaser

Ferried from Tocumwal by Bobby Gibbes, who had arranged their civil overhauls by Riverina Aircraft Service at Albury NSW.  At that time Albury airfield was small and prone to soft muddy surface. Gibbes' autobiography You Live But Once indicates that he ferried the three Norsemans to Deniliquin NSW (probably to be parked in the ex RAAF hangars).
He records that John McInnerney (of Greenfields Air Taxis, Albury) flew Gibbes to Deniliquin in his Auster with fuel in tin cans to collect the Norsemans, which Gibbes then ferried to Albury.


30.10.50 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak PNG

Civil conversion at Albury NSW by Riverina Aircraft Services c/- L.W.Henderson
2.51 DCA memo: Norsemans VH-ASR & -ASS are at Albury
28.3.51 DCA approval granted for VH-ASR to be exported to New Guinea
4.51 Had arrived in New Guinea and entered service
23.5.51 Registered VH-ASR
6.10.51
Crashed Amele, near Madang.
Crashed during a forced landing 16 miles SW of Madang due to engine structural failure while on a flight Madang to Mendi. The propeller shaft broke and the propeller flew off. Pilot R. H. Gibbes and newly arrived Gibbes Sepik Airways pilot Tom Lumme on familiarisation, received minor lacerations. Aircraft extensively damaged and declared a write-off but the cargo was saved.

DCA investigation found that the aircraft was loaded 300 lbs over its Maximum All Up Weight. The engine was sent to Melbourne by DCA for examination. Gibbes offered a reward of 5 for anyone finding the propeller, which was later found by local natives.

R.H.Gibbes made the following statement in his accident report to DCA: "I alighted in some tall pitpit in close proximity to the Gol Gol River. To avoid the danger of turning the aircraft on its back, I deliberately applied the port rudder and dropped my port mainplane in the pitpit. immediately making contact with same, causing the aircraft to drop its left wing and stall to port, striking the ground while travelling sideways, and thus avoiding the danger of the engine coming back, or the cargo coming forward."
19.6.52 Struck-off Register

  

  A71-7 is on the far right of this line at RAAF Tocumwal awaiting disposal. Frank F. Smith collection



c/n 252        A71-8            VH-BLM, VH-GSC


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5261.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-8. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
15.5.44 Issued No.1 Communications Unit, Essendon ex 1AD
17.7.44 Received No.5 Aircraft Depot Wagga
19.2.45 Flew Wagga-Point Cook
20.2.45 Departed Point Cook
13.1.46 Issued 5AD Store ex 5AD for storage under cover
7.46 RAAF listing: Held at Ground Training School, Wagga
1.8.47 Offered for disposal by Commonwealth Disposals Commission
28.11.47 Sold by CDC for 1,005 to P. H. Burton, Bourke NSW
23.2.48 Issued to purchaser ex CMU Wagga


1.6.48 Registration application: Bourke Airways Pty Ltd, Bourke NSW c/- P. H. Burton

Civil conversion at Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney by Marshall Airways
9.7.48 Registered VH-BLM
9.7.48 CofA issued. Seating for 2 crew, 7 passengers
16.7.48 VH-BLM due to depart Mascot on delivery to owners

DCA approve an additional passenger to be carried in the cockpit right hand seat subject to the right side rudder pedals being removed. The control column is the "swing-over" type.
8.7.49 CofA expired, not renewed
5.5.50 Change of ownership: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, New Guinea
Sold through Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Bankstown Airport, Sydney acting as agents for Bourke Airways, whose Managing Director is Mr. G. Treweeke.
12.5.50 CofA renewed at Bankstown
5.50 Ferried Sydney to Wewak by Bobby Gibbes
17.6.50 Ran off strip landing at Jacksons Strip, Port Moresby PNG due tyre bursting on touchdown. Major damage to undercarriage and wing. Captain Alf Clark unhurt.
17.12.50 CofA renewed Port Moresby after repairs. Delays waiting for spare parts required and the repair of the wing spar.
25.5.52 Minor damage in ground loop.
13.6.52 Forced landing Tring PNG, due engine failure en route Wewak to Angoram. No airframe damage. Pilots Rinus Zuydam and Patricia Graham walked out to Wewak. VH-BLM later flown out after a new engine was installed.
4.6.53 Overturned during landing Vanimo when it struck a log hidden by grass on the airstrip. Pilot Peter Manser.
.53 Damaged airframe shipped to Sydney for rebuild
25.5.56 Wing dug into the ground in a ground-loop on landing Wewak, aircraft badly damaged. Pilot Roy Shaw.
11.56 Back in service with Gibbes Sepik Airways
11.58 Gibbes Sepik Airways purchased by Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae PNG
4.59 Reregistered VH-GSC
6.60 MAL taken over by Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG
15.12.60 Crashed into mountain near Kuli Mission PNG. Ansett-MAL freight flight from Minj to Mendi, crashed in bad weather at height of 2285 metres, a miles from the mission. Captain Desmond J. Gleeson and one native passenger both killed.
Posted missing on 15.12.60, large aerial search, wreck found two days later.
15.12.60 Struck-off Register

 

In service in New Guinea with Gibbes Sepik Airways.  Bob Neate collection


  

  Gibbes Sepikl Airways titles on the fuselage. The Collection



c/n 259        A71-9            


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5268.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-9. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
12.5.44 Issued No.1 Communications Unit, Essendon ex 1AD
2.8.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Essendon
18.8.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Essendon
6.11.44 Flew Essendon-Point Cook-Essendon
2.2.45
Destroyed by fire Essendon Vic
DCA Report: AT 10.15am local time, RAAF Norseman A71-9 was destroyed by fire on the tarmac at Essendon. The fire started when the engine back-fired on start-up. A RAAF fire tender was manned by personnel who were unable to operate it and by the time that the DCA fire tender was brought into action, the fire had a strong hold. Foam was sprayed on the burning aircraft.
21.2.45 Approval for conversion to components




c/n 270        A71-10            VH-BNL, VH-GSF  


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5279.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
20.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-10. Received No.1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex Canada
5.4.44 Received No.1 Aircraft Performance Unit, Laverton
21.8.44 Receibed 1AD ex 1APU
27.8.44 Received No.5 Communications Unit, Townsville ex 1AD.  5CU code "KF-H"
14.3.46 Received Care & Maintenance Unit Tocumwal ex 5CU for under cover storage
1.8.46 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
28.11.47 Sold by CDC for 500 to Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney
9.2.48 Issued to purchaser ex CMU Tocumwal

Ferried to Mascot


4.49 Photo at Mascot: still in full RAAF camouflage scheme "KF-H"
27.7.49 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, New Guinea
9.49 Civil conversion under way at Mascot by KSAS.  Fitted for 2 crew and 16 passengers. Ferry tanks will be installed for the delivery flight to New Guinea.
25.11.49 Registered VH-BNL
25.11.49 CofA issued at Mascot. 7 passengers seats or 16 lap-straps on bench seats.
11.49 Ferried Sydney-Wewak, in service with Gibbes Sepik Airways by the end of November as their second Norseman
11.7.50 Forced landing without damage near Goroka due low visibility in smoke. Landed in kunai grass 5 miles SE of Goroka due poor weather while inbound to Goroka, pilot Frank J. Goosens spent the night inside the aircraft.
12.7.50 Crashed on takeoff from forced landing site of previous day. Port wing struck an earth mound concealed by kunai grass and aircraft crashed, badly damaged. Pilot Frank Goosens received minor injuries.

Dismantled and carried out by natives to Goroka.
8.50 Gibbes Sepik Airways advise DCA that VH-BNL will be rebuilt by the company
5.51 Gibbes Sepik Airways advise DCA that VH-BNL will now be used for spare parts only.
29.5.51 Struck-off Register
6.51 Gibbes Sepik Airways advise DCA that they have decided that VH-BNL will be rebuilt in the future.
1.12.54 DCA report: Gibbes Sepik Airways have 7 Norsemans in service, plus wreck of BNL waiting to be rebuilt. The company confirmed with DCA that BNL would be rebuilt.

Rebuilt at Wewak
14.11.57 Restored to Register VH-BNL
11.57 Identity quoted by the company on the paperwork submitted is "274" instead of the original 270. This was either a clerical error, or, less likely, the identity of a replacement fuselage frame incorporated in the rebuild of VH-BNL.

(C/n 274 was USAAF 43-5283, immediately transferred to RCAF as Norseman Mk.6
RCAF 365: Brought on charge RCAF 4.12.43, Struck-off Charge 24.9.53)
11.58 Gibbes Sepik Airways was sold to Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae, PNG
30.3.60 Re-registered VH-GSF  Ansett-MAL, Lae, PNG
12.62 Report: Ansett-MAL had Norsemans GSE & GSF based at Wewak, flying only occasionally. Both fitted with side-saddle seating.
2.63 GSF noted at Wewak
29.7.63 Struck-off Register as Withdrawn from Service 15.1.63
12.9.63 Restored to Register: Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG
4.10.63 Change of ownership: Pay & Williamson Pty Ltd, Narromine NSW
Base moved to Scone NSW and company later reformed as Pays Air Service.
10.11.63 Arrived Bankstown for conversion to agricultural use, all silver, no titles
23.11.63 noted Bankstown
21.12.63 noted Bankstown, having hopper installed. 2 bladed propeller.
10.1.64 noted Bankstown early in month
1.64 delivered Bankstown to Scone later in the month, in service spreading superphosphate near Scone NSW
6.9.64 flew ag demo at airshow Pelican NSW . 3 bladed prop.
11.12.64 noted Scone
15.5.65 noted working from an ag strip near Yass NSW, with Cessna 180D VH-DEO,
11.7.66 noted Scone, 3 bladed prop
24.7.66 noted Scone, 3 bladed prop, all silver
17.2.68 Struck-off Register. Withdrawn from service.
14.9.68 noted Scone, retired, looking shabby from exposure to weather
15.1.69 Restored to Register: Skyservice Aviation Pty Ltd, Camden NSW
1.3.69 flew a water bombing demonstration at Camden airport, with other agricultural aircraft to demonstrate fire attack capability.
18.1.70
Crashed into sea off Sydney.
Engine failed burst into flames during a skydiving display off Manly Beach. 8 parachutists baled out, followed by pilot Ken Andrews (owner of Skyservice Aviation) at 5,000 feet who was wearing a parachute. As he floated down under his parachute the circling Norseman came very close to hitting him. All were rescued by boats.
The Norseman struck the sea 6 miles off the beach, 5 miles SE Sydney Heads

  

  A71-10 at RAAF Laverton in 1944, while with No.1 Aircraft Performance Unit. RAAF Official


  

  A71-10 with 5CU code "KF-H" at Mascot April 1949 awaiting civil conversion. Dick Hourigan collection



  

  VH-GSF at Bankstown Airport in December 1963, with fuselage undersurfaces opened and the metal   agricultural hopper in sections about to be installed. Photo by Greg Banfield


  

  VH-GSF refuelling from the Pay's loader truck on a farm circa 1966.  Ben Dannecker collection


  

  VH-GSF being loaded with superphosphate.  Ben Dannecker collection


  

  Scone NSW in September 1968, withdrawn from service out in the weather, the battery access hatch   hanging open. The aircraft was silver with white lower fuselage.  Photo by Geoff Goodall


  

  VH-GSF at Camden 1st March 1969, now with Skyservice Aviation, and taking part in water bombing trials.   Note the open hopper doors below the fuselage.  Photo by Greg Banfield




c/n 273        A71-11              VH-ASS  

8.12.43 Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5282.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
29.2.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-11. Received No.2 Aircraft Park, Bankstown ex USA
29.4.44 Received No.7 Communications Unit, Pearce WA ex 2AP
4.5.44 Major damage when ground-looped on landing. Port wingtip, rear wing spar, undercarriage damaged. Repair by unit and local contractors.
4.9.44 Received 4CU Archerfield ex 7CU
19.12.44 Received 3CU Mascot ex 4CU. To be used exclusively for movement of Aircraft On Ground (AOG) items from No.6 Stores Depot to Mascot.
4.8.45 Crashed when ground-looped on landing Mascot NSW causing the undercarriage to collapse.  Aircraft was on a local flying exercise with 3CU. Pilot W/O Charlier & 2 crew
unhurt.
28.9.45 Issued 2AD Richmond ex 3CU for completion of repairs
14.5.46 Received CMU Tocumwal ex 2AD for storage under cover
9.9.49 Storage category downgraded, no longer being retained for possible use for Antarctic expedition
13.2.50 Offered for disposal to Commonwealth Disposals Commission. Good condition , total airframe time 216 hours
27.6.50 Sold by CDC for 1,500 including engine and radio to Gibbes Sepik Airways
18.10.50 RAAF Status Card: Departed Tocumwal, collected by purchaser

Ferried from Tocumwal by Bobby Gibbes, who had arranged their civil overhauls by Riverina Aircraft Service at Albury NSW.  At that time Albury airfield was small and prone to soft muddy surface. Gibbes' autobiography You Live But Once indicates that he ferried the three Norsemans to Deniliquin NSW (probably to be parked in the ex RAAF hangars).
He records that John McInnerney (of Greenfields Air Taxis, Albury) flew Gibbes to Deniliquin in his Auster with fuel in tin cans to collect the Norsemans, which Gibbes then ferried to Albury.


30.10.50 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak PNG

Civil conversion at Albury aerodrome NSW by Riverina Aircraft Service c/- L.W.Henderson
3.51 DCA report: VH-ASS is stripped of parts at Albury to provide parts for other Gibbes Sepik Airways Norsemans under conversion there
21.9.52 Registered VH-ASS
21.9.52 CofA issued
11.53 Flew police and supplies to Telefolmin following native killings
29.10.56 Crashed in forced landing, overturned due to engine failure, pilot Bobby Gibbes. Location not given
20.6.57 Change of ownership: Carsair Air Service, Port Moresby PNG
.60 Change of ownership: Robert G. Carswell, Hangar 71, Archerfield Airport Qld

Reportedly blown over by wind at Bankstown, no details
62 noted Bankstown, dismantled fuselage standing on its own undercarriage outside the Austerserve hangar, all silver, "Carsair" titles.
10.1.63 noted Bankstown, fuselage down side of Austerserve hangar, parts stored inside cabin
9.2.64 noted Bankstown, fuselage down side of Austerserve hangar
.64 Purchased for spare parts by Pay & Williamson Pty Ltd, Scone NSW
21.4.64 Struck-off Register
7.64 Moved by road from Bankstown to Scone
66 Stored Scone, bare fuselage frame outside hangar, all fabric removed

  

  VH-ASS dismantled at Bankstown January 1963, outside the Austerserve hangar. Photo by Rod Adam




c/n 269        A71-12      VH-BHG,VH-GSB, VH-RHG, VH-GSG, CF-ISM, C-FISM

27.11.43 Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5278.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
7.3.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-12. Received No.3 Aircraft Depot, Amberley ex USA
14.3.44 Received 6AD, Townsville ex 3AD
21.4.44 Received No.4 Communications Unit, Archerfield ex 6AD
17.1.46 Received 7AD Tocumwal for storage under cover
1.8.46 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
28.11.47 Sold by CDC for 500 to Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Sydney
31.12.47 Has been serviced by LKSAS staff, ready for ferry flight to Sydney. Delayed pending RAAF approval to depart with radio equipment installed
4.2.48 Issued to purchaser ex CMU Tocumwal

Ferried Tocumwal-Mascot


48 Civil conversion at Mascot by Kingsford Smith Aviation Service c/- Peter G. Brown
30.11.48 Letter to DCA from Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd, Broken Hill: the civil conversion of their second Norseman VH-BHG is seriously delayed due to lack of spare parts. The tailwheel and mainwheel of their Norseman VH-BHF were recently sent to Sydney to be fitted to VH-BHG. Thus they are now left with no serviceable Norsemans. Silver City Airways has a contract to evacuate 17 men plus equipment from Kopperamanna SA to Broken Hill for Enterprise Exploration Co on 14.12.48. If neither Norseman is airworthy by then, they will be forced to us their Dragon VH-AQW.
18.1.49 Registration application: Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd. Broken Hill NSW
15.2.49 Registered VH-BHG
15.2.49 CofA issued. Fitted for 6 passengers.
31.5.50 CofA renewal at Broken Hill NSW
13.11.50 Engine problems while based in WA
18.12.51 Change of ownership for VH-BHF & BHG: Zinc Corp Ltd, Melbourne Vic
Both have been operated by Zinc Corp on behalf of Silver City Airways since 1.1.50
5.53 Bobby Gibbes of Gibbes Sepik Airways placed a deposit on the agreed purchase price of 8,000 for VH-BHG
17.7.53 Change of ownership: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, PNG
17.7.53 Gibbes Sepik took delivery of VH-BHG
11.58 Gibbes Sepik Airways taken over by Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae PNG
1.59 Re-registered VH-GSB
4.60 Change of ownership: Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG

Bobby Gibbes swapped his newly imported personal Cessna 185 VH-RHG with Ansett-MAL for a Norseman fresh from overhaul. He used the Norseman to carry supplies to his Tremearne coffee plantation
11.6.62 Re-registered VH-RHG Robert H. Gibbes, Goroka PNG
62 Based Goroka, flown as a private aircraft by Bobby Gibbes.  Allover silver with his business name painted on the side "Tremearne Tea and Coffee Estate"
22.6.64 Re-registered VH-GSG
To enable Gibbes to use his preferred registration with his initials on the SAAB Safir VH-AHA he had just purchased
27.6.64 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Sale negotiated with Pay & Williamson for crop dusting, ferried from New Guinea to Bankstown to have agricultural hopper installed. Still painted as VH-RHG
12.7.64 VH-RHG noted Bankstown, all silver, two bladed prop
28.11.64 VH-RHG noted Bankstown in De Havilland hangar, awaiting hopper. All silver, remains of name "Tre..." on side
5.2.65 VH-RHG noted Bankstown under overhaul
5.3.65 Restored to Register VH-GSG: Pay & Williamson Pty Ltd, Scone NSW
5.3.65 VH-GSG noted Bankstown, parked outside, hopper installed, complete.
6.3.65 Departed Bankstown on delivery to Pay & Williamson
15.7.65 Crashed Murrurundi, near Timor NSW while spreading superphosphate. DCA accident report: "Engine power was lost shortly after takeoff and in the subsequent forced landing on unsuitable terrain the aircraft overturned. The engine failure was caused by a faulty ignition switch."
Pay & Williamson pilot N.E. Hanel was unhurt. Total hours were 10,360, on type 845 hrs
6.2.66 noted Bathurst NSW, dismantled in hangar. Fitted 3 bladed propeller
10.7.66 noted Bathurst NSW, parked outside with wings removed. 3 bladed propeller
10.2.67 noted Goulburn NSW, all white, hopper in cabin
7.67 noted Scone NSW, all white
9.12.67 noted Scone
.68 Sold to Ed Fleming t/a Skyservice Aviation Pty Ltd, Camden Airport NSW.
28.9.68 noted Camden NSW, in Skyservice hangar, same all white scheme with "Skyservice Aviation Pty Ltd, Camden Airport" painted on fuselage
22.10.68 Civil Register Change of ownership: Skyservice Aviation Pty Ltd, Camden Airport NSW.
10.11.68 noted Camden, "Skyservice" titles
2.69 noted Camden
.70 Leased to Air Research Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW. Fitted for aerial mineral survey.
Fitted at Camden with additional fuel tanks to give 200 gallon capacity for long endurance survey missions
4.70 noted Camden with Piaggio P166 VH-GOE, both painted in a new brown and white colour scheme with titles "Air Research Pty Ltd, Sydney - Air Surveys"
18.9.70 noted Camden
16.5.71 Arrived Camden after an engine supoercharger failure at Nyngan. This same fault caused the engine failure and crash of Skyservice's Norseman GSF.
8.71 noted Camden, flying. 3 bladed prop
4.11.71 Change of ownership: Mercredits (WA) Ltd, Sydney     (a finance company)
4.11.71 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service
18.6.72 noted Camden, in hangar
17.11.72 Restored to Register VH-GSG:  Edward G. Fleming, Sydney NSW
21.7.73 Struck-off Register as sold to Canada
Late 73 Shipped from Sydney to Canada when Canadian Ed Fleming, co-owner of Skyservice Aviation, returned to Canada after Skyservice ceased operating in Australia.
- Registered CF-ISM  Edward G. Fleming, Vancouver, British Columbia
Registered as a "Norseman 6"
28.2.74 Canadian CofA issued. There had been a delay due to incomplete Log records
By 6.74 Sold to D. C. Jorgenson, Ignace, Ontario
10.4.75 Commercial Category CofA issued: Ignace Airways Ltd, Ignace, Ontario
Ignace Airways operated 4 Norsemans at that time
By 76 Sold to Grand Rapids Air, St-Norbert, Manitoba
77 Re-registered C-FISM.  By now fitted with floats
16.6.78
Crashed on water takeoff Witchai Lake, Manitoba
Accident report:  "The pilot reported that shortly after takeoff from the lake at 1230 local time, at about 350 feet altitude he found the aircraft was difficult to control. To avoid trees ahead he started a turn to the left back over the lake. He was unable to control the aircraft and it struck the water heavily in a nose down attitude. The passenger drowned when the aircraft sank.  Investigators estimated that the aircraft was at or over the maximum authorized weight limit.
The Norseman had been manufactured in Canada in 1943 and exported as a military aircraft. It had been licensed as a civil aircraft in Australia and modified in various ways to improve its performance. Because the written records of its mechanical history were incomplete there was considerable difficulty in obtaining a Canadian Certificate of Airworthiness. The certificate was finally issued and the Norseman was operated commercially.
The parts of the wreckage recovered from the water showed there had been an unapproved modification to the wing struts (shortening). This had the effect of altering the dihedral of the wings, changing the flight characteristics.
The pilot had flown floatplanes for 300 hours and this Norseman for about 30 hours and should have been familiar with its performance. The flight difficulties appear to be related to a combination of heavy load, degraded performance of the aircraft due to the unauthorized modifications, and finally, to the increased stalling speed brought about by the attempt to turn back to the lake."

  

  VH-BHG visiting Essendon owned Zinc Corporation, based at Broken Hill. The Collection p5192-0004



  

Eagle Farm, Brisbane 1953, probably on delivery flight to New Guinea for Gibbes Sepik Airways.

  Note the unusual cabin windows configuration. Photo by Henry W. Pryor


  

  VH-BHG in Gibbes Sepik Airways service with original power plant. The Collection


  

  VH-BHG after re-engined with a geared P&W R-1340-S1H1-G with 3 bladed propeller.  Photo at Tari. a   5,000 feet elevation strip in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Photo by Bob Hoard


  

  Now re-registered VH-GSB, wih Gibbes Sepik Airways titles on fuselage. Geoff Goodall collection


  

  VH-RHG at Bankstown November 1964, waiting to have hopper installed. Photo by Greg Banfield


  

  VH-GSG at Scone NSW in December 1967, as a crop duster. Photo by Roger McDonald


  

  Camden NSW June 1970, flying aerial survey for Air Research Pty Ltd.  Photo by Roger McDonald


  

  CF-ISM at Selkirk, Manitoba August 1976. Photo by Phil Hansen




c/n 271        A71-13          VH-BNE, VH-GSD  


Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5280.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
7.3.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-13. Received No.3 Aircraft Depot, Amberley ex USA
20.3.44 Received No.6 Aircraft Depot, Townsville ex 3AD
21.4.44 Received No.4 Communications Unit, Archerfield ex 6AD
4.9.44 Pilot log: local flight Archerfield, F/O Mole of 4CU
17.1.46 Received 7AD Tocumwal ex 4CU for storage under cover
1.8.46 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
28.11.47 Sold by CDC for 500 to Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Mascot NSW
17.2.48 Issued to purchaser ex CMU Tocumwal


4.48 R.H.Gibbes took an option on this aircraft while it was undergoing civil conversion overhaul by KSAS.
28.10.48 DCA sent a telegram to Gibbes changing its original refusal to allow the Norseman type in PNG. Type would be approved at an AUW of 3193 Kg, lower maximum weights for highlands strips such as Mount Hagen and Telefomin.
29.10.48 Gibbes finalised the purchase with KSAS.  
(The high purchase price of 5,500 indicated the commercial value of the Norseman (DC-3s could be purchased for 10,000 at that time)
29.10.48 Registration application: Gibbes Sepik Airways, Wewak, PNG

Civil conversion completed at Mascot by KSAS.
18.11.48 Registered VH-BNE
18.11.48 CofA issued at Mascot
11.48 Ferried from Sydney to New Guinea by Bobby Gibbes, carrying 10 lambs, which he fed with a milk bottle en route.
10.12.48 Made Gibbes Sepik Airways' first commercial flight with a Norseman
11.12.48 Flew Goroka-Angoram-Goroka, pilot Bobby Gibbes
22.3.50 CofA renewed at Bankstown by KSAS
6.4.50 Damaged in accident at Wewak
16.7.50 CofA renewed after repairs
7.52 Engine seized during landing at Tapini, no airframe damage. Pilot Pinus Zuydam.
2.53 First Gibbes Sepik Airways Norseman to be re-engined with P&W R1340-S1H1G geared engine with 3 bladed prop. Testflown at Wewak by Bobby Gibbes
13.11.53 Overturned on landing Telefomin when a wheel struck a soft spot on the strip. Captain Robin Gray and another Gibbes Sepik Airways pilot Roy Shaw were unhurt, but the passenger who was seated on bags of rice suffered a broken leg.  

On-site repairs by a team of Gibbes Sepik engineers over the next year
16.11.54 Ferried Telefolmin-Goroka by Bobby Gibbes, with a rough repair of the wing spar. Fabric tore away from port wing during the flight. Aircraft then commenced a major rebuild in the company workshop at Goroka.
- Returned to service
29.6.57 Overturned during forced landing in swamp at Lake Kopiago while air-dropping supplies to patrol officer patrol.
Pilot Helly Tschuchnigg and 3 drop crew received minor injuries. They were rescued from an area of constant native tribal fighting by Qantas floatplane Beaver VH-EAU which landed on the tiny lake
Accident report: "The aircraft was forced to land on unsuitable terrain when the engine failed in flight following the failure of No.2 cylinder exhaust rocker housing."

VH-BNE was dismanted on site and carried out on the backs of native carriers. The engine was removed and discarded at the site.
28.7.57 Carry began, using a team of two Europeans and 120 native carriers who trecked in to the crash site from Tari, escorted by 12 police.
15.8.57 The carry team reached Tari after a treck of 113 km, being forced to hack a path through 60 km of jungle along the way. Hundreds of tribemen en route helped the carriers. Gibbes Sepik Norsemans dropped supplies to the team at regular intervals.

The airframe pieces were flown to Goroka by Gibbes Sepik Airways aircraft
57/58 Rebuilt at Goroka

Bobby Gibbes in his autobiography You Live But Once states that the wreck was stored at Goroka for 18 months then commenced a 6 month rebuild. "80% of the fuselage was new and entirely manufactured in the workshops of Gibbes Sepik Airways."

DCA Regional Director V.A.Rule stated that the salvage was "an amazing feat, unique in the history of Commonwealth aviation"
- CofA renewed
11.58 Gibbes Sepik Airways taken over by Mandated Airlines Ltd, Lae, PNG
18.6.59 Re-registered VH-GSD
19.3.60
Overturned during forced landing Ialibu airstrip.
Accident report: "The pilot noticed a drop in fuel pressure when committed to continue a takeoff and used the wobble pump to obtain a height of 200 feet. He attempted to return to the strip but engine power failed completely and the aircraft overturned on rough terrain"
The pilot John Sutcliffe sustained minor injuries.

MAL flew a team of engineers to Ialibu in a Norseman, to collect all parts which could be salvaged. VH-GSD was pulled back on to its wheels, the engine and wings removed, the fuselage cut into sections and carried to Mount Hagen where it was loaded in a Ju52 and flown to Goroka.

MAL Norseman pilot John Bayles recalls the rebuild of VH-GSD: "The aeroplane was flying again in about 4 months. It weighed over 100 lbs (45 Kg) heavier, due I believe, to the welding again together of the fuselage sections."
6.60 MAL taken over by Ansett-MAL, Lae PNG
12.9.60 Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Fate unknown

  

  A71-13 at RAAF Tocumwal early 1946, after arrival for storage. Neville Parnell collection

 

Refuelling at a Queensland airfield on the ferry flight from Sydney to New Guinea in November 1948.
Bobby Gibbes is carrying supplies, possibly for the 10 lambs on board. Photo: Vintage Queensland

  

  Wewak circa 1952. The dark painted Norseman behind VH-BNE is interesting, because all pictures of   Gibbes Sepik Norsemans show them in silver finish.  Greg Banfield collection


  

  VH-BNE in New Guinea with Gibbes Sepik Airways. Neville Parnell collection


  

  Lake Kopiagu, New Guinea June 1957. It was dismantled and carried out in pieces by a team of 120

  native carriers and returned to service with Gibbes Sepik Airways. Photo by James Sinclair




c/n 272        A71-14            VH-BHF  

12.11.43 Built at Montreal, Quebec by Noorduyn Aircraft Ltd, to USAAF order as UC-64A 43-5281.
600hp Pratt & Whitney R-1340-AN-1.

Transferred to RAAF under Lend-Lease, shipped to Australia
7.3.44 Taken on RAAF charge as A71-14. Received No.3 Aircraft Depot, Amberley ex USA
20.3.44 Received No.6 Aircraft Depot, Oakey Qld ex 3AD
22.5.44 Received No.7 Communications Unit, Pearce WA ex 6AD
25.8.44 Allotted to 5CU ex 7CU to replace A71-1, but allotment cancelled. Held at 7CU in unserviceable condition, awaiting parts
4.12.44 Received No.13 Aircraft Repair Depot, Breddan Strip, Charters Towers Qld ex 7CU
18.5.45 Received 5CU Townsville ex 13ARD, temporary allotment until A71-2 & A71-3 are serviceable
5.6.45 Received 13ARD ex 5CU
18.1.46 Allotted 7AD Tocumwal ex 13ARD for storage
23.1.46 Allotment suspended however aircraft to proceed to 7AD on completion of duty
19.3.46 Received Care & Maintenance Unit Tocumwal (took over 7AD in 2.46) ex 13ARD for storage under cover
1.8.46 Offered to Commonwealth Disposals Commission for disposal
28.11.47 Sold by CDC for 500 to Kingsford Smith Aviation Service, Mascot NSW
31.12.47 Ready to depart Tocumwal. Has been serviced by KSAS staff. Departure delayed awaiting RAAF HQ approval to depart with radio equipment installed.
27.1.48 Departed Tocumwal
28.1.48 RAAF Status Cards: Issued to purchaser

Ferried to Mascot Airport, Sydney



Civil conversion at Mascot by Kingsford Smith Aviation Service. Fitted with two additional cabin windows and 7 passenger seats from a RAAF Dragon.
5.3.48 Registration application: Zinc Corporation Ltd (Aviation Division), Broken Hill NSW
5.3.48 Registered VH-BHF
16.4.48 Weighed at Mascot on DCA scales for load charts
17.4.48 CofA issued at Mascot. This was the first civil Norseman in Australia.
17.4.48 Delivered Mascot to Broken Hill by a Zinc Corp pilot
26.4.48 Arrived at Broome WA from Broken Hill. Based at Broome on mineral survey support operations, carrying exploration parties into the desert basin and taking supplies to remote camps. Some supplies were air-dropped by parachute to ground parties. Pilots were Zinc Corporation Aviation Division's Lloyd Miller and Allan Polkinghorne
5.48 Being serviced by MMA engineers at Broome
16.5.48 Forced landing in WA without airframe damage. Pilot and geologist on board were unhurt
6.48 Returned to Broken Hill from WA operations
8.48 Zinc Corp writes to DCA advising  "activities previously carried out by Zinc Corp are now carried out by Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd."
Manager is Captain M. H. H. Jackson, who was previously Manager of Zinc Corp Aviation Division.
8.48 Change of ownership: Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd, Broken Hill NSW
11.48 Grounded at Broken Hill. Tailwheel and mainwheels have been sent to Sydney to be used to get their second Norseman VH-BHG operational
16.4.49 CofA expired
20.4.49 Ferried Broken Hill-Mascot for inspection for CofA renewal
4.49 Silver City Airways (Australia) Pty Ltd advise DCA "Silver City Airways is currently undertaking a large amount of work in connection with the air lift to Northern areas."
4.7.49 CofA renewed at Mascot. Inspection carried out by Marshall Airways under subcontract from Butler Air Transport
10.49 DCA memo: BHF is currently based at Broken Hill
8.50 CofA renewal inspection at Essendon by Australian national Airways.
This aircraft will be used for private operations by Silver City Airways at Broken Hill as well as occasional use by the Broken Hill base of the Flying Doctor Service of Australia.
18.12.51 Change of ownership: Zinc Corporation Ltd, Melbourne Vic
Company advises DCA that VH-BHF & BHG have been operated by Zinc Corporation on behalf of Silver City Airways since 1.1.50
17.9.52
Destroyed by fire at Mainoru airstrip, Arnhemland, NT
The aircraft caught fire on the ground due to an electric fault in the HF radio. It was being used to transport workers to zinc silver deposits found near Mainoru Station, 300 miles SE Darwin.
12.52 Struck-off Register
81/01 Reported that the burnt-out fuselage frame of VH-BHF was still on the side of the strip at Mainoru Station.
01 Engine had been removed and was displayed in Darwin Aviation Museum

  

  Broken Hill NSW 1949.  Ed Coates Collection


  

  VH-BHF arriving at Alice Springs NT in 1948. R. Smith via Civil Aviation Historical Society SA


  

  The burnt remains of VH-BHF at Mainoru Station NT during the 1960s. Geoff Goodall collection







References:

- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne and its successors

- DCA aircraft files, National Archives of Australia, Melbourne

- Accidents to Australian Civil Aircraft, DCA annual publication, 1955-1969

- DCA Accident investigation report VH-BNT 17 April 1955: copy via D. L. Prossor

- DCA Aircraft Defect Record cards - via D. L. Prossor

- RAAF Status Cards, A71- series, RAAF Historical, Dept of Defence, Canberra

- RAAF accident reports, RAAF Historical, Dept of Defence, Canberra

- National Library of Australia - Trove newspaper archive website

- Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, monthly, various issues 1960-1970

- NSW Air Log, monthly journal: airport and accident reports, various issues June-Dec 1964

- Australian Air Log, monthly journal, various issues 1965-1968

- The Aeroplane in Australia series, incomplete draft 31 March 2002, John Hopton

- Aerial Agriculture in Australia, Derrick Rolland, Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia 1996

- Balus The Aeroplane in Papua New Guinea, Volume 1, James SInclair, Robert Brown & Assoc., 1986

- Flypast A Record of Aviation in Australia, Neville Parnell and Trevor Boughton, CAA 1988

- You Live But Once, Bobby Gibbes, self published, 1994

- The Noorduyn Norseman, Eric Allen, Australian Aviation magazine, December 1984

- Norseman Production listing, British Commonwealth Aviation News, Air Britain, numerous issues






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