Last updated 1 July 2021
REARWIN AIRCRAFT IN AUSTRALIA
Compiled by Geoff Godall


Rearwin 9000L Sportster VH-UYS at the Drage Historical Aircraft Collection at Wodonga Vic in November 1976.
                                Photo by John Hopton


              Rearwin Aircraft and Engines Inc, Fairfax Airport, Kansas City, Missouri was founded by businesman Andrew Rearwin in 1928, with his sons Ken and Royce, to produce a series of high wing touring aircraft designs. The company went through name changes and shut down during The Great Depression, but emerged to build the successful Rearwin Sportster. Rearwin took over the LeBlond Aircraft Engine Corporation, makers of the small  radial engines used in some Rearwin models, and continued radial engine manufacture under the Ken-Royce name.
             The Rearwin Cloudster was introduced in 1939, followed by the Rearwin Skyranger. World War II brought US military orders to build large numbers of Waco troop gliders, resulting in the factory being expanded to employ 2,000 staff. In 1942, after making over a thousand Rearwin models, the Rearwin family sold the business, which was to become Commonwealth Aircraft Inc.
             Four Rearwin Sportster two seaters (tandem) and one Rearwin Cloudster 3 seater were imported to Australia, in the following models:
Rearwin 8135 Cloudster:      85 hp
Ken-Royce 7G radial
Rearwin 9000L Sportster:     90 hp Le Blonde 5DF radial    
Rearwin 9000KR Sportster:  90 hp Ken-Royce 5DF radial (same engine but built by Rearwin)

            First Australian agent for Rearwin Aircraft was Captain Ken Frewin, a flamboyant former RAAF, airline and joyriding pilot. Kenneth Morton Frewin was widely known in the southern states. Captain Harry Purvis, veteran airline pilot, wrote of landing his ANA DH.86 at Hobart in particularly poor weather one night in 1937 "that legendary aviation figure, Ken Frewen "Kenneth Mortal Ruin", (one time ANA pilot before falling out with Ivan Holyman over his drinking habits, but was a tremendous fellow) happened to be there and lined up cars and headlights for me."  Frewin returned to the RAAF in January 1940 as an intructor, was a test pilot for Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in 1941 and during the war was involved with various military projects including the Project Skywards flying jeep fitted with Cierva Autogiro rotor assembly. Postwar he continued flying as an instructor for aero clubs.
          During 1937 Ken Frewin was in Melbourne and acquired Australian agencies for Ryan and Rearwin, importing a Ryan ST-A VH-UZQ and two Rearwin Sportsers VH-UYS and VH-ABX, but his restless spirit soon had him moving on.
          The Rearwin agency was taken up by National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney. This was a business formed in 1939 by its General Manager Captain H.A."Jack" Treacy, former airline pilot whose flying career went back to WW1. The company letterhead said they were agents for Rearwin aircraft, Le Blond and Ken-Royce engines, American aircraft supplies such as dope and fabric. National Aircraft Pty Ltd had big plans including selling Rearwins to RAAF as trainers and building them in Australia as licenced production. In April 1940 the company announced it had placed an order for 20 Rearwins to establish its own aviation school on its own land in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery. Unfortunately World War II restrictions on civil flying and petrol rationing quickly put an end to such plans. After importing four Rearwins, the business was in the hands of receivers by October 1940.

Australian Rearwin aircraft, listed in order of registration:

           Rearwin 9000L Sportster   c/n 535D                                                                                             VH-UYS
23.2.37
Built by Rearwin Aircraft and Engines Inc at Faifax Airport, Kansas City, Missouri.
Production 9000L Sportster, 90hp Le Blond 5 cylinder radial.  Factory paint scheme dark red

Ordered by Australian agent K.M.Frewin, Melbourne Vic

Shipped to Australia
23.5.37
Test flown Sydney Airport (Mascot) after assembly.
2.6.37
Registered VH-UYS: Kenneth M. Frewin, Melbourne Vic
2.6.37
Australian CofA issued
20.7.37
Change of ownership: Walter N. and Albert J. Parker, Colac Vic
The Parker brothers operated a Colac garage and General Motors dealership. They owned a succession of aeroplanes, Beardmore Wee Bee VH-URJ, Junkers Junior VH-UCC then the new Rearwin.
30.7.39
DCA Inspection report at Essendon, airframe time 234 hours
9.11.40
Annual CofA expired, not renewed
7.41
DCA investigation into reports that VH-UYS was still flying: established that the owners had used 68 gallons of fuel in VH-UYS between March-May 1941.
7.41
VH-UYS ferried Colac to Essendon for CofA renewal inspection
18.7.41
CofA renewed, then maintained current during the war years 
14.12.47
visited an airshow at Fishermans Bend Aerodrome, Melbourne
26.7.48
Ownership transferred to Albert J. Parker, Colac Vic
20.2.51
Change of ownership: I.K.Robb, Melbourne Vic
10.10.52
Change of ownership: Schutt Aircraft Sales and Service, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne Vic
7.2.53
Change of ownership: W.J.Robinson, Melbourne Vic
8.12.55
Change of ownership: G.H.Hillier, Casterton  Vic
1.2.59
Change of ownership: E.D.McLure, Stawell Vic
11.8.61
Change of ownership: Graham M.Boschen, Stawell Vic
15.12.67
Change of ownership: Rob Nuttall, Edenhope Vic, later Avoca Vic
10.8.72
Struck-off Register, withdrawn from use

Sold to Joseph G. Drage/ Drage's Historic Aircraft Museum, Wodonga Vic

Ferried to Wodonga, displayed in museum hangar on Drage's farm
1.85
Joe Drage in partnership with City of Wangaratta established Drage Airworld in a large new hangar at Wangaratta Airport, which included a cafeteria and interstate bus station
27.1.85
VH-UYS ferried from Wodonga to Wangaratta
9.11.96
Offered for sale at auction of selected aircraft in the Airworld collection, to defray the museum's rising costs
c99
Sold to Tony Green, Boreen Point Qld as a restoration project.
 by 2015
Sold unrestored to James T. Williams, Albury NSW.
Jim Williams is a licenced aircraft maintenance engineer specialising in vintage and warbird types.
2020
Being advertised for sale by Jim Williams as a restoration project


VH-UYS in the late 1930s in original factory red paint scheme.                                            Photo: Tony Aitken


Moorabbin 1950s.                                                                                          John Hopton Collection


Visiting an airshow at Wentworth NSW in August 1960.                                     Photo by John Hopton


At home base Stawell Vic, February 1965. Green and white paint scheme.                    Photo by Geoff Goodall


Side view at Stawell Victoria, September 1966.                                                       Photo by Geoff Goodall


RAAF Point Cook hosted an annual civil aircaft fly-in during the early 1970s. Here VH-UYS provides welcome shade
during the December 1971 event. It was retired the following year.          Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society



VH-UYS displayed at Drage Air World, Wangaratta Vic, March 1988.                             Photo by R.A.Scholefield


             Rearwin 8135 Cloudster   c/n 820                                                                                            VH-ABL
29.1.40
Built by Rearwin Aircraft & Engine Inc at Fairfax Airport, Kansas City, Kansas.
Production
Rearwin 8135 Cloudster, 125hp Ken-Royce 7F five cylinder radial engine. 

Ordered by Australian agents National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW

Shipped to Sydney and assembled at Mascot
1.4.40
Australian Registration application: National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
3.6.40
Registered VH-ABL: National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney NSW
3.6.40
Australian CofA issued
13.7.40
VH-ABL arrived Brisbane from Sydney, flown by Captain Jack Treacy. He told press the aircraft had been sold for 1,800 to Stan Hill, Metal Downs Station, via Charters Towers Qld
2.41
National Aircraft Pty Ltd are in liquidation, their three Rearwins are grounded pending necessary modifications
6.41
VH-ABL sold by the liquidators to Norman G. Padgett, Werribee Vic
6.41
Flown Sydney-Essendon by Padgett. Due to the military using hangars at Essendon, it will be based at the prewar Coode Island Aerodrome, close to Melbourne city.
24.7.43
Change of ownership: Fred H. Edwards, Melbourne Vic

Padgett, an ANA pilot and former RAAF instructor, sold VH-ABL to Fred Edwards and trained him to gain a commercial pilot licence. Edwards established Edwards Aero Service Pty Ltd at Essendon and became a major dealer in RAAF disposals aircraft on the civil market.
12.43
Edwards wrote to DCA enquiring about purchasing an Amstrong Siddeley Genet Major radial engine stored in the DCA hangar at Essendon. It had been removed from Cierva C.30A autogyro VH-UUQ stored in Perth, for use in the Army Project Skywards plan for a flying jeep fitted with Cierva Autogiro rotor assembly.  He wanted to install the 140hp Genet Major in his Rearwin to replace the 125hp engine because he believed the Rearwin was underpowered.  DCA responded to his proposal but nothing was concluded.
18.2.45
VH-ABL noted at Essendon
13.5.46
Change of ownership: Western Airways Passenger Services Pty Ltd, Warrnambool Vic

WAPS was formed in 1946 by motor car dealer H.H.(Bert) Matthey and Mrs Muriel J. Blackwell, both of Colac Vic, to operate an airline service between Warrnambool and Melbourne with Avro Ansons. The Rearwin began services until Ansons were ready. Passenger loadings were disappointing and WAPS was in liquidtion by April 1948.
9.46
CofA renewal overhaul by Brown & Dureau Ltd at Belmont Common airfield, Geelong. The original Ken-Royce Le Bond radial engine was replaced by a 130hp Gipsy Major. DCA approved the installation drawings, cowling design and stress analysis calculations provided by B&D Chief Engineer David Burke.
5.10.46
visited an airshow at Colac Vic
2.11.46
visited an airshow at Nhill Vic
15.11.46
CofA renewed at Geelong
16.6.47
Change of ownership: Royal Aero Club of Western Australia, Maylands Aerodrome, Perth WA
6.47
Delivered from Geelong to Perth by Royal Aero Club of WA member R.A. Little.
8.10.47
Forced landing with no damage near Wubin WA due engine trouble, pilot Ross Little
4.1.50
Returned to Maylands with engine trouble after departure for Hammersley Station, Wittenoom on hire to club member Langley G. Hancock of Hammersley Station. Next day Lang Hancock made a forced landing at Moora WA due engine trouble again. Hancock flew it back to Maylands and returned it to the aero club.
20.6.50
Change of ownership: William E. Dermody, Perth WA

Bill Dermody had a used car business Hurlingham Motors in South Perth and owned a succession of light aircraft for his travel to his farm at Shackleton WA. He also purchased aircraft just for resale.
20.6.51
Change of ownership: Strickland, Pittaway & Co Pty Ltd, Perth WA
A stock and station business, whose principle Peter Strickland purchased the Rearwin for planned use on State Government contracts for outback wild dog baiting, but it was not used for such. Sold in 1954 to finance the company's branch into aerial agriculture with sprayer Tiger Moths under the name Scientific Spraying Service, Perth
15.1.54
CofA expired, not renewed. Parked in a hangar at Maylands
7.54
CofA renewal overhaul commenced Maylands, advertised for sale
8.8.54
Change of ownership: Edward O. Norton, Perth WA
Norton was a Capel WA farmer who operated a heavy trucking business in Perth. He purchased a Tiger Moth and then the Rearwin for his private use.
10.9.54
CofA renewed
20.9.57
Change of ownership: William E. Dermody, Perth WA
14.1.58
Change of ownership: Keith M. Hampshire, Perth WA                                

Group Captain Keith Mcdermott Hampshire DSO DFC had a distinguished RAAF career during WWII, including CO No.6 Squadron in New Guinea on Bostons and CO 456 Squadron England on Mosquitoes with 7 personal kills. Postwar he worked with British Aviation Insurance Group in Hong Kong and London.  While based in Hong Kong during 1948 he owned a Beech C18S VR-HED. which he flew to England in April 1949. When this Beech C18S was sold to Australia he delivered it in February 1952 to become VH-KFD.
Hampshire moved to Perth WA in 1957 and became involved in the search for oil. He purchased VH-ABL and applied for an Australian civil pilot licence, but was angered by the regulations. His behavour at Maylands Aerodrome was irrational and he was in continuous conflict with DCA, striking one officer while arguing over a delay in renewing the Rearwin's CofA while the altimeter was u/s. In September 1958 he departed in VH-ABL for Darwin.
13.10.58
Tailplane damaged at "Moola Boola" Station NT, pilot K.M.Hampshire. Local repair.
18.10.58
Departed "Moola Boola" after repair, Hampshire made a forced landing near Red Billabong NT. Flown out.
21.10.58
Destroyed by fire during refuelling at Wave Hill NT. Pilot K.M.Hampshire not hurt
4.12.58
Struck-off Civil Register


79
Parts of Rearwin VH-ABL were among a large collection of dismantled retired agricultural Tiger Moths, and a DH.83 Fox Moth VH-USJ stored in a shed in the town of Trayning WA. This collection had come from storage on a farm at Cunderdin WA when acquired from Bob Couper Co, Cunderdin WA.  Most of the Tiger Moth parts collection was sold to Ray Windred at Luskintyre NSW to form the basis of his Tiger Moth restoration “production line”

Compiler's note: Keith Hampshire's behavour would today be excused as PTSD. A biography of the man included:  "His confidence, even arrogance, in decision-making, his courage, skill, competitiveness and acceptance of the loneliness of command that had served him well during the war did not transfer easily into business. In the end, he may also have lacked mental stability."








Having the compass swung at Sydney Airport (Mascot) in June 1940 after assembly 1940. Colour unknown.
This photograph was sent to DCA by National Aircraft Pty Ltd to attach to its CofA form.






VH-ABL at RAAF Cootamundra 1942 while owner Sgt Norman Padgett was a RAAF instructor.   David Vincent collection






The altered lines after the radial engine was replaced by an inverted inline DH Gipsy Major.
Belmont Common airfield, Geelong 1947 with "Western Airways" on the door and "WA" emblem on nose cowling.
Kevin O'Reilly Collection






                Rearwin 9000L Sportster  c/n 612D                                                                                             VH-ABX

.38
Built by Rearwin Aircraft and Engines Inc at Faifax Airport, Kansas City, Missouri.
Production 9000L "Sportster Delux", 90hp Le Blond 5 cylinder radial.

Ordered for a New Zealand buyer, but sale not concluded. Registration ZK-AGR had been reserved but no CofR

Shipped to Australia to order of Australian agent Ken Frewin, Melbourne.
Sold by Frewin to William Guy, Launceston Tas. VH-ABX allocated.
11.38
Assembled at Western Junction Aerodrome, Launceston by Australian National Airways
15.11.38
Test flight Launceston after assembly by ANA Captain H.G.Kirkman. Aircraft total time 3 hr 15 min
DCA approve the aircraft to be flown pending formal certification
18.12.38
Delivered Launceston-Hobart by ANA Captain Ken Frewin
12.1.39
Registered VH-ABX: William H. Guy, Hobart Tasmania

William Guy operated Guy Brothers bus and hire car service across Tasmania
7.11.39
Forced landing due weather Tunnack Tasmania, no damage. Pilot W.Guy was flying Launceston-Hobart
2.40
Annual CofA renewal, total time 54 hr 10 min
6.6.41
Crashed into River Derwent at Kingston Tasmania. Pilot William Guy killed.

Guy was the only occupant, low flying over the town of Kingston, near Hobart. He was seen to make a low turn over the water off Kingston Beach and dive into the water 180 metres off shore, sinking in deep water








Launceston November 1938 after assembly. This photograph was attached to the original CofA form






Tasmania late 1930s.                                                                 Photo via Geoff Atkinson






              Rearwin 9000KR Sportster   c/n 656D                                                                                             VH-ADL

.40
Built by Rearwin Aircraft and Engines Inc at Faifax Airport, Kansas City, Missouri.
Production 9000KR Sportster, 90hp Ken-Royce 5 cylinder radial.

Ordered by Mr.Treacy of National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney Australia
22.2.40
First flight Kansas City Airport, Missouri

Shipped to Australia
29.4.40
Test flght Mascot after assembly, pilot Jack Treacy. Total airframe time 3 hrs 45 mins
13.5.40
Registered VH-ADL National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney c/- Manager H.A.Treacy
13.5.40
Australian CofA issued
2.41
DCA memo: National Aircraft Pty Ltd is in liquidation. Their Rearwins VH-ABL, VH-ADL and VH-ADM are hangared at Mascot while the liquidator attempts to sell them as company assets
16.4.41
Change of ownership: Paul H. Burton, Sydney NSW

Burton was a Canadian who migrated to Australia and pre-war was involved in the family wool buyer business.
In 1946 he was trained for his pilot licence by Warren Penny in Penny's Avro Avian VH-UKD at Mascot. In 1939 Burton purchased an Avian VH-UHZ whch he based at Bourke NSW. On 3 February 1941 the Avian was destroyed by fire in a forced landing at Byrock NSW, pilot Burton was unhurt. He acquired the Rearwin as a replacement.
5.41
CofA renewal, airframe time: 273 hours
1.6.41
Tipped on nose during forced landing due to weather on a road near Curraweenah NSW, pilot Burton

Aircraft was dismantled and sent to Sydney by railway for repair
18.7.41
CofA renewed at Mascot after repair by Marshall Airways
22.10.41
Repossessed from Burton by National Aircraft Pty Ltd (In Liquidation), Sydney
11.41
Rearwins VH-ADL and VH-ADM sold to Auckland Aero Club, New Zealand
A Sydney accountancy company is acting on behalf of the Auckland Aero Club, will arrange shipment to NZ
24.12.41
Both Rearwins departed Sydney by sea for Auckland
2.6.42
Registered ZK-AHN Auckland Aero Club, Auckland NZ
12.10.42
Impressed by Government for Royal New Zealand Air Force for light communications duties
14.10.42
Taken on RNZAF charge as NZ569
.46
Sold by post-war military disposals with airframe time 3315 hours to Auckland Aero Club for 100.
18.4.46
Registered ZK-AKA Auckland Aero Club, Auckland

Sold to W. Orr, Stratford

Sold to V. Spear, Gielding

Sold to B.Sheehan, Timaru

Sold to B. Murray, Timaru
.61
Sold to D. Telford, Waiwera
7.62
Sold to J.Spear, Kawhia
.66
Sold to John Caston, Auckland
5.10.68
Last flight Auckland-Wellington, retired
6.11.68
Sold to Ivan T.East, Wellington
.81
Gifted by Mr I.T.East to NZ Sport and Vintage Aviation Society, Hood Aerodrome, Masterton NZ
23.12.92
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Reportedly stored as a restoration project








  VH-ADL at Mascot in May 1940 when it was assembled.             Photo: Civil Aviation Historical Society






With Auckland Aero Club as ZK-AKA circa 1949 after wartime use by RNZAF.             Ed Coates Collection






             Rearwin 9000KR Sportster   c/n 654D                                                                                             VH-ADM

29.1.40
Built by Rearwin Aircraft and Engines Inc at Faifax Airport, Kansas City, Missouri.
Production 9000KR Sportster, 90hp Ken-Royce 5 cylinder radial.

Ordered by Mr.Treacy of National Aircraft Pty Ltd, Sydney Australia
22.2.40
First flight Kansas City Airport, Missouri

Shipped to Australia
13.6.40
Test flght Mascot after assembly, pilot Jack Treacy. Total airframe time 3 hrs 15 mins
26.6.40
Registered VH-ADM
26.6.40
Australian CofA issued
2.41
DCA memo: National Aircraft Pty Ltd is in liquidation. Their Rearwins VH-ABL, VH-ADL and VH-ADM are hangared at Mascot while the liquidator attempts to sell them as company assets
11.41
Rearwins VH-ADL and VH-ADM sold to Auckland Aero Club, New Zealand
A Sydney accountancy company is acting on behalf of the Auckland Aero Club, will arrange shipment to NZ
24.12.41
Both Rearwins departed Sydney by sea for Auckland
9.2.42
Registered ZK-AHM: Auckland Aero Club, Auckland NZ
12.10.42
Impressed by Government for Royal New Zealand Air Force for light communications duties

Taken on RNZAF charge as NZ568
19.5.46
Sold by post-war military disposals at Woodbourne AB to Auckland Aero Club
30.5.46
Registered ZK-AKF  Auckland Aero Club, Auckland
5.51
Sold to F.McKeever, Auckland

Sold to M.Oates, Hamilton

Sold to Stafford Pearce Ltd, Taupo

Sold to R. Adam
17.3.67
Sold to G.K.Reader t/a Early Bird Flying Ltd, Palmerston North
69
Retired, stored dismantled by Mr.Reader at Palmerston North
19.1.89
Sold to Rearwin Syndicate, Auckland
26.11.96
Sold to Anthony Payne, Auckland
27.11.96
Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service

Reportedly stored Auckland as a restoration project








                     ZK-AKF back with the Auckland Aero Club July 1946 after wartime RNZAF service. All over red with white trim.   
             Photo: Whites Aviation                          




Footnote:
Rearwins still survive overseas. I found this Rearwin 8500 N15855 sitting in the sun at San Fernando Airport near Burbank California in 1979.
When I tried to make a return visit to this pleasant airfield two years later it had become a sprawling shopping centre.










References:
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation, Melbourne
- DCA aircraft files, National Archives of Australia
- NZ Civil Aircraft Register, Air Britain Archive Vol.3, 1983









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