Last updated 10 February 2020
SASIN-AEROSTRUCTURES SA-29 SPRAYMASTER

A 1960s Australian venture to create a low cost agricultural Tiger Moth replacement

Compiled by Geoff Goodall

SA-29 Spraymaster VH-GEB at Adelaide-Parafield in September 1966 in sprayer configuration.      Photo by John M. Smith

            During 1961 the Department of Civil Aviation introduced a range of new requirements for Australian agricultural aviation, affecting pilot licencing and aircraft safety standards. This was a response to increasing numbers of agricultural aircraft accidents. The requirements included a ruling that DH.82 Tiger Moths must be withdawn from agricultural flying over the following three years because the type's accident statistics had an unacceptably high percentage of pilot fatalities or serious injuries compared with purpose-designed types like the PA-25 Pawnee. It was considered the Tiger Moth gave insufficient protection to the pilot.
          Tiger Moths had been the mainstay of Australian aerial agriculture since its inception in 1947. RAAF disposals Tiger Moths were plentiful and cheap with seemingly limitless supplies of spare parts and Australian wartime production Gipsy Major engines. Literally hundreds of DH.82s had been converted to crop sprayers, dusters, seeders and spreaders.  Many smaller businesses would struggle to raise the financing required to replace their Tigers with modern aircraft specifically designed for agricultural operations, like the Piper PA-25 Pawnee, CallAir A-9 and Yeoman YA-1 Cropmaster.

            Among those smaller companies was Sasin Aircraft Service, Goulburn NSW, with a single Tiger Moth VH-RIN flown by company founder Mieczyslaw "Mike" Sasin, born in Poland who had migrated to Australia in 1951. He become an experienced Licenced Aircraft Mechanical Engineer and commercial pilot working for a variety of aviation companies in Australia and New Guinea before establishing his own maintenance business at Goulburn Aerodrome in 1960. The following year he started an aerial spraying operation with the Tiger Moth, flying for several hours in the early mornings before commencing his day's aircraft maintenance work.

Mike Sasin's Tiger Moth sprayer VH-RIN outside his igloo hangar at Goulburn NSW in September 1965.
It was a typical ag Tiger fitted with an overturn truss to protect the pilot.         Photo by Peter Limon

                    Sasin gave a lot of thought to a low-cost replacement during the forced-retirement of agricultural Tiger Moths and decided on the DHC-1 Chipmunk. He was familiar with the type's fully aerobatic structure because he carried out the maintainance for the Goulburn Aero Club's Chipmunk training aircraft. 
                   In July 1963 he purchased an airworthy Chipmunk VH-AMB, dismantled it in his Goulburn hangar and commenced metal work to modify the fuselage to his agricultural design. After an inspection by a DCA airworthiness surveyor rejected his modifications thus far, Sasin approached a small Sydney aeronautical engineering consultancy Aerostructures Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport.
                   Aerostructures had been established by Sydney aeronautical engineer C.W. (Bill) Smith who had previously designed agricultural aircraft including the Yeoman YA-1 Cropmaster 250. Smith had been a Director of Yeoman Aviation and in 1964 set up his own business Aerostructures with his chosen design team. Aerostructures specialised as consultant aeronautical designers, gaining DCA approval for a range of light aircraft modifications. Refer: http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/wackett-cropmaster/wackett-cropmaster.htm

                    Sasin formed a 50/50 partnership with Aerostructures' senior aeronautical enginer Mike Burns. The project was named Sasin-Aerostructures Spraymaster with design number SA-29,  implying it was Aerostructures' 29th project. Aerostructures commenced work on a revised design and submitted professional engineering drawings and stress analysis calculations to DCA for approval. Meanwhile a replacement fusalage was acquired for the prototype. The project was slowed by the lengthy DCA approval process for various components of the design. The Department's airworthiness branch at that time had a well-earned reputation for an ultra-conservative attitude towards modifications and variations to aircraft Type Certificates.  DCA determined that the radical changes proposed for the humble Chipmunk trainer required a new Type Certificate and and Aerostructures would be required to comply with all stringent requirements to gain that certification.  Mike Sasin's plans for a quick and cheap ag Tiger replacement were dashed but he still saw potential as a cheaper alternative to imported Piper and Cessna ag planes.
                  The first SA-29 VH-SJD took nearly two years to complete while waiting for DCA approvals for stages of the modifications.
As costs increased there were further delays while additional financing was sought. Orders were secured from crop spraying businesses in SA and WA.  DCA required an extensive test flying program to measure performance.  Hawker De Havilland at Bankstown offered their company test pilot but Sasin considered the fee too high. He gained the DCA test pilot qualification himself and did most of the flying, using the cruise flight hours to visit Goulburn to show the new aeroplane to his financial backers and spraying customers.

The SA-29 modifications to the DHC-1 airframe included:
- rear pilot seat retained but raised
- front seat and controls removed and replaced by a chemical hopper
- clipped wings with endplates in lieu of slots
- enlarged low drag "blown" canopy to increase pilot's field of view, offered as clear or tinted
- anti-spin strakes between rear fuselage and horizontal tailplane
- fin fillet
- spring-leaf tailwheel assembly
- overturn truss for pilot protection
- trailing edge wing spraybars and spray pump system, and alternative belly drop hatch for spreading of dry fertiliser or seed

The short-lived first Spraymaster
           DCA type certification for the SA-29 was finalised on 1 September 1965 and CofA issued the same day for the first aircraft VH-SJD owned by Mike Sasin. It was no longer a low-cost Ag Tiger replacement as first envisioned, but hopes for further sales were high. The following day Sasin flew VH-SJD home to Goulburn on delivery to a happy welcome from local pilots and friends. He flew demonstrations and invited Goulburn Aero Club instructors to fly the Spraymaster to compare its performance with the club's Chipmunks.  In the enjoyable and unusual circumstances, the aircraft's fuel state was overlooked. When another instructor got airborne, the engine failed due fuel exhaustion and the aircraft dived into the ground. The pilot has badly injured and the aircraft wrecked as Sasin watched on.
           Mike Sasin later wrote in his book The EP-9 Story:
"Engineering and design now became my interest. The complete redesigning of a Chipmunk aircraft for aerial spraying resulted in a completely new type of plane registered as a SA-29 Spraymaster. This was exacting work because of the strict requirements and regulations covering aircraft design at that time. After about a year of development at Goulburn, the new plane was built over a period of two years at Bankstown Airport, Sydney.  Mike Burns, an aeronautical engineer also associated with the development of the plane and I were in a 50-50 partnership and planned to convert more Chipmunk aircraft to the new design. We already had orders and further plans to start production of a more powerful version of the Spraymaster. Financially we were under considerable strain but the future looked good.
        After the Certificate of Airworthiness was issued I flew it back to Goulburn. Later that day one of the local pilot instructors took the plane up for as familiarisation flight, ran out of fuel and crashed it. The pilot surtvived but the plane was a complete wreck. It was the end of all our hard work.
        There were aerial spraying contracts to fulful so I bought a Piper Pawnee 150 VH-SFF to get on with the work. Two weeks later on December 3rd 1965 while carrying out a spraying job for a local farmer, I crashed the aircraft and was badly hurt and hospitalised. I realised I could no longer fly as a result of the head injuries I suffered.  I did not feel I could carry on the business of developing the Spraymaster. While still in hospital I held a meeting with my solicitor and Mike Burns, the outcome being I signed everything over to Mike. My life had changed so drastically I now wanted to move on away from the scene of so much sadness. I was offered a position in Western Australia as chief engineer of a spraying company. Four months after the Pawnee acciden I took up the position and moved my wife and children to a new life in WA."
Aerostructures Sundowner
         Aerostructures at Bankstown continued with the construction of the next two Spraymasters VH-BCA and VH-GEB. Further orders did not materialise, which ended the Spraymaster.  However Sasin and Aerostructures had been considering options to develop the concept with a more powerful American power plant.  Design work on various engine installations began, but a launch customer was needed to commercially back the development. That customer was John D. Roulston, owner of Nor'West Air Taxis Pty Ltd, Carnarvon WA.
         To supplement charter work he had pioneered aerial mustering of sheep and cattle on properties in the Murchison district inland from Carnarvon. He was looking for a specialised mustering aircraft to replace the Cessnas he was using. Roulston knew Chipmunks well from nine years as an instructor with the Royal Aero Club of WA, which had a large fleet of Chipmunks.  Among aircraft he used for mustering was Chipmunk VH-UEZ which he found suitable for the task, but it was quickly lost in an accident. By early 1966 Roulston had ordered the first Sundowner, which was proposed to be a SA-29 without agricultural hopper and equipment with a modern Lycoming engine. Prospects for aerial mustering were good and his purchase contract included options for additional Sundowners. Aircraft  magazine reported in April 1966 "Nor'West Air Taxis are noted for their aerial mustering on stations around Carnarvon. They are believed to have ordered a fleet of Aerostructures Sundowners."
            Aerostructures went to work on the protoype Sundowner fitted with a 180hp Lycoming O-360. The company design number is not known, it was always just referred to as the Sundowner. Allocated registration VH-CXZ, it was rolled out at Bankstown in July 1967 and commenced test flying the following month. Sundowner modifications to the DHC-1 airframe included:
- Lycoming O-360 engine and new cowling design
- both pilot seats retained but raised for better visibility
- cockpit controls and instruments modernised
- streamlined enlarged front seat windscreen
- one piece frameless "blown" canopy
- wings fabric areas covered with metal skinning, with provision for luggage lockers
- wing tip fuel tanks
- SA-29 features including anti-spin strakes, fin fillet and spring-leaf tailwheel mounting

            Meanwhile at Carnarvon, John Roulston sold Nor'West Air Taxis to Trans West Air Charter, Perth effective June 1967. At the same time he formed a new business at Carnarvon named John Roulston Aviation Pty Ltd as aerial mustering contractors. His pilots were given the choice of staying with him on mustering or transferring to TWAC on charter flying.  His Sundowner order was transferred to John Roulston Aviation.
           The Sundowner project was dogged by misfortune just like the Spraymaster. Prior to the last of the structural design drawings and stress analysis calculations to complete the DCA approval process, the Aerostructures project aeronautical engineer died in a boating accident. The loss of the designer was to severely hinder the approval process. However the test flying program was allowed to continue. John Roulston had specified additional fuel capacity to keep the Sundowners "on task"for longer periods to avoid diversions to the nearest refelling point, often a considerable distance.  Large wing tip fuel tanks were installed and test flown with varying fuel loads. A DCA report stated that test flying revealed spin problems when the tip tanks were full and more design work was required. John Roulston's order had lapsed due non-delivery and Aerostructures could not invest further funds on development. But perhaps it could be sold as a specialised aerobatic aircraft. Several years of correspondence with the Department followed, as Aerostructures offered compromises to get the Sundowner certified, but without success.  VH-CXZ was was rolled outside at Bankstown and left in the weather. 
       
            All however had not been in vain. During 1967 while the first Sundowner was being constructed, Sydney private pilot Dr. Lal McDonnell comissioned Aerostructures to modify his Chipmunk VH-RJK with the same Lycoming O-360 powerplant. The modification of Dr. McDonald's Chipmunk was limited to just the re-engining and mods. already approved by DCA: metal wing skinning, fin fillet and spring-leaf tailwheel. The cockpit area was left as original. The work was seemingly completed by March 1968 when VH-RJK was seen at Bankstown with Lycoming and a gleaming new paint scheme with "Sundowner"on the nose.  However behind the scenes it must have become entangled in the certification problems of the "full" Sundowner because it was not issued with a new CofA until December that year, under a new DCA type designation DHC-1/A1. In the meantime it had been flying regularly on a DCA temporary permit.

Aerostructures Pty Ltd
                Founded by C.W. (Bill) Smith as a consulting aeronautical engineering business at Bankstown Airport, Sydney. Bill Smith was an experienced aeronautical engineer who had previously worked for Kingsford Smith Aviation Service at Bankstown on modifying CA-6 Wackett Trainers for agricultural use and he later designed the Yeoman YA-1 Cropmaster: refer: http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/wackett-cropmaster/wackett-cropmaster.htm
               Aerostructures offered a design and stress-analysis service to gain DCA approval for airframe modifications, changes of engine type etc. The company employed aeronautical engineers on a wide variety of projects, believed to include the first Australian modification of Piper PA-25 Pawnees to two-seaters in 1966 to carry a loader-driver and allow pilot training.

Aerostructures name
DCA Type Designation
Aircraft
SA-29 Spraymaster
DHC-1/SA-29
VH-SJD
SA-29 Spraymaster DHC-1/SA-29
VH-BCA
SA-29 Spraymaster DHC-1/SA-29
VH-GEB
Sundowner
No type certification
VH-CXZ
Sundowner (partial)
DHC-1/A1
VH-RJK


              SA-29 Spraymaster No.1                                                                             VH-SJD

Based on airframe of DHC.1 Chipmunk Mk.21 VH-AMB c/n C1-0383

30.11.51 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at their Hawarden Aerodrome factory, Chester
Fuselage number DHB f301.
Diverted from RAF production line for the civil market.
Sold to Royal Aero Club of Western Australia and boxed for shipping to Perth WA
8.1.52   Registered as Chipmunk Mk.21 VH-AMB Royal Aero Club of WA
9.4.62   Sold to Mid-Murray Flying Club, Swan Hill Vic
10.5.62 Departed Perth on delivery flight to Swan Hill. Retained RAeCWA all red paint scheme.
1.7.63   Sold to Sasin Aircraft Service Ltd, Goulburn NSW
7.63
VH-AMB delivered Swan Hill to Goulburn, flown by Mike Sasin.
.63
Dismantled by Sasin in his hangar at Goulburn and work commenced on modifications to replace the front seat installations with an agricultural liquid chemical hopper.

Sasin went into partnership with Aerostructures Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney to complete the conversion and gain Department of Civil Aviation Aircraft Type Certificate approval for the highly modified Chipmunk. The project was designated Sasin-Aerostructures SA-29 Spraymaster
.63
VH-AMB moved by road from Goulburn to Bankstown

DCA would not approve the initial modification metal work carried out on VH-AMB's fuselage by Sasin at Goulburn. A replacement fuselage was needed.

Replacement fuselage acquired from Tamatave Aero Club, New Caledonia from DHC.1 F-OAOL
c/n C1-0438 ex WG351
. It had been dismantled and used for parts.

8.51 Construction completed by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hawarden, Chester to RAF order
Fuselage number DHB f300.
10.8.51   Taken on RAF charge as Chipmunk T.Mk.10 WG351
10.8.51   No.47 Maintenance Unit, Hawarden for packing and transport to Birkenhead Docks
2.10.51   Departed on SS Clan Sinclair for Durban, where arrived 21.10.51
17.11.51 394 Maintenance Unit Heany for assembly for Southern Rhodesian Air Force
1.1.52     No.5 Flying Training School, Thornhill
17.6.53   No.4 Flying Training School, Heany for disposal
29.10.53 Sold to civil purchaser
29.10.53 Airfreighted from Bulawayo to Tananarive via Mozambique French island Juan de Nova
17.12.54 Registered F-OAOL Tamatave Aero Club, New Caledonia
29.5.55   Registration suspended, probably due accident
Stored dismantled by Tamatave Aero Club for spare parts use
7.65
First flight as SA-29 at Bankstown, painted as VH-SJD with Sasin Aircraft Service titles.
7.65-8.65
Test flying program measure performance as part of the DCA certification process for a new aircraft type. Test flying was carried out by Mike Sasin, during which he visited Goulburn to show his new aircraft to local businessmen who had financed him and farmer customers.
31.8.65
VH-AMB struck-off Register
1.9.65
Registered as DHC1/SA29 VH-SJD: Sasin Aircraft Service Ltd, Goulburn NSW
1.9.65
CofA issued under new DCA Australian Type Certificate as a SA29
2.9.65
Delivered Bankstown-Goulbourn by Sasin. At Goulburn he made local flights to demonstrate the SA-29 and later in the day invited Goulburn aero club instructor A.Cummins to make a flight. Soon after takeoff the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed, pilot was seriously injured and aircraft wrecked.
2.9.65
Crashed, destroyed Goulburn NSW

DCA accident report summary:
Shortly after take-off engine power was lost due to fuel exhaustion. The pilot attempted to return to the aerodrome, but the aircraft stalled and dived almost vertically into the ground.


Mid-Murray Flying Club Chipmunk VH-AMB visits Moorabbin Vic March 1963, allover red with white stripe.
Three months later it was sold to Mike Sasin to become the first SA-29.                    Photo by Bob Neate


The prototype SA-29 under construction in the Aerostructures hangar at Bankstown on 23 May 1965.
Photo by John Hopton


Completed as SA-29 VH-SJD at Bankstown 2 August 1965.                                        Photo by Dave Eyre


A side view at Bankstown 2 August 1965.                                 Photo by Michael Croker


Taxying at Bankstown 28 August 1965 for another test flight, three days before DCA type certification.
Photo by Neville Parnell


              SA-29 Spraymaster No.2                                                                             VH-BCA

Based on airframe of Chipmunk WB601 c/n C1-0042 acquired from spare parts stock of Royal Newcastle Aero Club. Some parts of VH-RNJ from the same source were included

21.2.50 Construction date by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hawarden, Chester to RAF order
Fuselage number DHH f46.
31.3.50 Taken on RAF charge as WB601
11.4.50  Edinburgh University Air Squadron
29.5.53  RAF College, Cranwell
8.9.53    No.20 Maintenance Unit, Ashton Down for storage
25.6.56  Sold to W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London.
Dismantled at Ashton Down by Helliwells Ltd acting for W.S.Shacklton, transported to Avonmouth for shipping to Australia.
WB601 was not assembled in Australia as a civil aircraft, acquired by Royal Newcastle Aero Club for parts. The Club operated a large Chipmunk fleet from Broadmeadow airfield, Newcastle before moving in 1960 to West Maitland (Rutherford).

In August 1964 Royal Newcastle Aero Club advertised for sale its spares Chipmunk fuselages and wi
.64
Dismantled airframes WB601 and VH-RNJ plus other parts purchased by Aerostructures Pty Ltd,
Hangar 120 Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW

2.8.65
Second SA-29 noted under assembly in Aerostructures hangar Bankstown
11.9.65
noted completed at Bankstown completed, painted as VH-BCA
21.9.65
Registered as DHC1/SA29 VH-BCA Bob Couper Pty Ltd, Cunderdin WA
9.65
Delivered from Bankstown to Cunderdin by Alan Fox, chief pilot of Bob Couper Pty Ltd
1.10.65
Visited an airshow at Rockingham WA
65-72
Based Cunderdin WA operated as an agricultural sprayer and duster. Loaned to Gliding Club of WA also based at Cunderdin when required as a glider tug.
20.8.70
Minor damage near Korrelocking WA. The engine was being hand-started by having the propeller swung when the aircraft, which had no wheels chocks, rolled forward and struck farm machinery.
1.11.70
Visited an airshow at Beverley WA, towed a glider airborne
28.12.70
Propeller detached while towing a glider at Cunderdin. VH-BCA and the glider made successful forced landings alongside the runway without damage
14.11.71
Visited an airshow at Northam WA, towed a glider airborne
14.2.72
Struck-off Civil Register at owner's request, retired
28.10.72
VH-BCA noted at Kellerberrin WA on Alan Mather's farm airstrip. Now owned by agricultural operator John Turner. Also noted at Kellerberrin 1.3.73.
22.12.73
noted at Jandakot Airport, Perth parked outside at the agricultural hangar area. Also 8.1.74, 8.3.74
25.5.74
noted at Jandakot Airport, Perth now parked outside at Bernies Aviation area. Also 2.6.74
7.6.74
no longer at Jandakot
11.2.75
noted at Kellerberrin WA in maintenance hangar
13.7.75
Restored to Register VH-BCA: John A Turner, Perth WA trading as Austral Aviation

Operated as an agricultural sprayer based at Kellerberrin WA
19.9.76
Change of ownership: Cliff Brown Piper West Pty Ltd, Jandakot Airport, Perth WA
Traded in on PA-25 Pawnee 235 VH-PXI
9.76
Advertised for sale by Cliff Brown Piper West: Total airframe time 2,415 hours
8.10.76
Change of ownership: Robert J. Moro, Cairns Qld
76-77
Operated as a glider tug by Far North Queensland Soaring Club, Mareeba Qld.
Club ceased using VH-BCA during 1977 due poor performance and engine maintenance problems.
6.10.77
Struck-off Register at owner's request.
77-85
Retired, parked in the open at Mareeba Qld. Painted faded badly in tropical climate.
86
Acquired by Cliff Douglas, moved by road to Coolangatta Qld for restoration. Most agricultural fittings were removed and aircraft painted in a stylish new scheme as a single seater aerobatic aircraft. Retained the fin fillet and bubble canopy.
10.12.86
Restored to Register as DHC-1 Chipmunk T Mk.10:
Cliff C. Douglas, Chewing Gum Field Air Museum, Tallebudgera Qld

90s-03
Loaned to Museum of Australian Army Flying, Oakey Army Airfield Qld
.03
Acquired by Michael Spaulding trading as Cairns Airport Hangars, Cairns Qld.

Mike Spaulding had established North Queensland Warbirds based at the former WWII airfield at Mareeba, near Cairns.
17.4.03
Arrived at Mareeba Qld by road from Oakey Qld

Rebuilt at Mareeba back to standard Chipmunk two seat dual controls trainer configuration.
When completed, painted in silver RAF scheme.
7.6.04
Civil Register Change of ownership: Cairns Airport Hangars Pty Ltd, Cairns Qld
Operated by associate company North Queensland Warbirds, Mareeba Airport Qld
10.8.13
Change of ownership: Edward B. Harvey, Bannockburn Vic

Current


VH-BCA at Cunderdin WA in December 1969 as a crop duster.                           Photo by Geoff Goodall


VH-BCA at Beverley WA in November 1970 while operating as a glider tug.      Photo by Geoff Goodall


Back to a sprayer, seen at Kellerberrin WA in October 1975. Note the wing endplates have been removed.
Photo by David Tanner


Retired at Mareeba Qld in April 1978 after a short career as a glider tug at that field.   Photo by Geoff Goodall


Looking much happier at Murwillumbah NSW in August 1990, after a restoration as a single-seat sport aircraft.
Although most agricultural gear was removed, the hopper door can be seen ahead of the cockpit.
Photo by Ben Dannecker


Mareeba Qld May 2005 rebuilt by North Queensland Warbirds as a standard two-seater Chipmunk,
although retaining the spring-leaf tailwheel and anti-spin strakes.           Photo by Paul Howard



VH-BCA is at the rear of this Chipmunk formation during the 2017 AAAA fly-in at Echuca Vic.
Photo courtesy Rod Blievers who was flying his VH-MMS nearest to the camera aircraft.


              SA-29 Spraymaster No.3                                                                             VH-GEB

Based on DHC.1 Chipmunk VH-BSQ c/n C1-0501 acquired from Tasmanian Aero Club, Launceston 

15.10.51 Built by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hawarden, Chester to RAF order
Fuselage number DHB f370
17.10.51  Delivered to RAF as Chipmunk T Mk.10 WG427
17.10.51  No.4 BFTS Sywell
9.3.53      No.10 Maintenance Unit, Hullavington
20.3.53    Damaged, repaired on site by De Havillands
16.8.53    Colerne Communications Squadron
5.2.54      No.20 Maintenance Unit, Ashton Down for storage
25.6.56    Sold to W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London
Dismantled at Ashton Down by Helliwells Ltd acting for W.S.Shacklton, transported to Avonmouth for shipping to Australia.
3.7.57       Registered as Chipmunk T Mk.10 VH-BSQ Tasmanian Aero Club
12.8.65     Struck-off Register as withdrawn from service 

Dismantled airframe moved from storage in Tasmania to Sydney

Constructed by Aerostructures Ltd at Bankstown as SA-29 Spraymaster
9.7.66
First flight Bankstown, painted as VH-GEB
9.7.66
Registered as DHC1/SA29 VH-GEB Aerostructures Ltd, Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW
9.7.66
CofA issued
10.7.66
Departed Bankstown on delivery to Tintinara SA
8.10.66
Chnage of ownership:  Timothy R. O'Neale trading as Tonair Pty Ltd, Tintinara SA
19.12.66
Damaged in forced landing due engine failure while spraying near Tintinara SA
2.67
Rebuild completed at Parafield SA by Royal Aero Club of SA using a replacement right wing.
26.5.69
Change of ownership: Adelaide Soaring Club, Gawler Aerodrome, Gawler SA
External agricultural gear removed, aircraft used as a glider tug

Gawler was built during WWII as a satellite airfield for RAAF Mallala and RAAF Parafield. During 1945-1946 it was used as a refuelling stop by Qantas Empire Airways Liberators and Lancastrians  between Learmonth WA and Sydney operating Indian Ocean services to Ceylon, Karachi, London.
29.3.70
Crashed Templers SA.  Struck power line while landing, aircraft badly damaged.
25.5.70
Struck off Register
.71
Damaged aircraft acquired by Dean Whitaker, Double Bay, Sydney
He owned airworthy Chipmunk VH-GCE and also acquired the grounded Sundowner VH-CXZ.
5.71
VH-GEB moved by road from Parafield to Bankstown Airport, Sydney

Whittaker reportedly planned to have VH-GEB rebuilt in Sydney as an aerobatic aircraft, but was stored dismantled in a hangar at Bankstown
15.2.72
US Bill of Sale: Dean Whitaker, Odessa Texas to Roy Schlemeyer, Odessa Texas

US Bill of Sale to George Douglas Warren, Odessa Texas
.72
Dean Whitaker sold his three Chipmunks to Doug Warren, Big Spring Texas
.72
Shipped from Sydney to USA
18.5.72
Registered N7DW Doug Warren, Odessa Texas.  Based at Big Spring Airport Texas

Doug Warren registered the three Australian aircraft as DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk.22:
N7DW  ex VH-GEB
N8DW  ex VH-CXZ   
N13DW ex VH-GCE
7.74
N7DW has Lycoming O-435-2 engine installed. Chemical hopper modified carry oil used to generate smoke during aerobatic displays. Total airframe time: 2847 hrs
27.6.78
Bill of Sale: Howard W. Davenport & Leo A.Hammer, Magnolia Texas
.79
Forced landing due engine failure on Interstate Highway 10, 30 miles north of El Paso Texas. No damage.

Davenport and Hammer could not finance a replacement Lycoming so sold aircraft back to Doug Warren
4.2.80
Bill of Sale: Doug Warren, Odessa Texas.  Total airframe time: 3079 hrs
3.80
Lycoming 540-A105 installed.
23.12.87
Bill of Sale: Aeronautique Enterprises, Houston Texas c/- Nadir Fahn and Chuck Stockton.

Operated as an aerobatic display aircraft
88
Modified to two open cockpits and hopper removed as "Super Chipmunk"
28.11.00
Bill of Sale: Mark E. Noah, Atlanta Georgia, later Big Pine Key Florida. Total airframe time: 3265 hrs
24.5.03
Bill of Sale: H D Flying Services Inc, Wilmington Delaware c/- Bruce Moore
28.8.09
Change of ownership: Shore Labs Corp, Edgewater Maryland c/- Mark Meredith,
5.14
Test flown by Mark Meredith after modification to single-seater at Annapolis-Lee Airport, Maryland.
Painted at Trenton New Jersey 6.14.in new aerobatic scheme "Super Chipmunk"

Current


Tasmanian Aero Club Chipmunk VH-BSQ at Launceston circa 1958.                  Photo by Norm Weeding


Rebuilt as SA-29 Spraymaster VH-GEB for Tonair Pty Ltd, Tintinara SA where seen in September 1966.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


Tintinara SA in December 1967. The town's name on the fuselage sides was misspelt by the Aerostructures
painter when the Spraymaster was completed 18 months earlier.                       Photo by Geoff Goodall


Gawler SA in December 1969 in a smart new paint scheme, now a glider tug with the Adelaide Soaring Club.
Photo by Nigel Daw


Wreck stored at Parafield August 1970 after a landing accident at Templars SA in March that year.
Photo by Nigel Daw


A radical transformation in USA as N7DW, a two-seat, open cockpit Lycoming powered aerobatic aircraft.
Photo via Graham Orphan
 

In a later "Super Chipmunk"paint scheme and more modifications


"Super Chipmunk" N7DW in a more recent single-seat configuration.                      Photo by Rod Blievers



             Aerostructures Sundowner No.1                                                                          VH-CXZ

Based on airframe of Chipmunk VH-RNJ ex G-AOUC, WG412 c/n C1-0486 acquired dismantled from Royal Newcastle Aero Club spare parts stock..

28.9.51 Construction date by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hawarden, Chester to RAF order
Fuselage number DHB f354
7.10.51 Taken on RAF charge as WG412
7.10.51  No.2 Basic Flying Training School, Ansty
23.3.53  No.22 Maintenance Unit, Silloth Down foir storage
9.8.56    Sold to W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London.
16.7.56  Registered G-AOUC: W.S.Shackleton Ltd, 175 Picadilly, London W1. No British CofA.
10.8.56  G-AOUC noted at Kidlington Aerodrome
4.10.56  Cancelled from British Civil Register as sold to Australia
21.12.56 Registered VH-RNJ Royal Newcastle Aero Club, Broadmeadow airfield, Newcastle NSW
20.7.61   Struck-off Register, withdrawn from service

Dismantled airframes of VH-RNJ and WB601 held with other RAF Chipmunk components as spare parts by Royal Newcastle Aero Club, which operated a large fleet of Chipmunks.
In August 1964 the Club advertised for sale Chipmunk fuselages and wings

.64
Dismantled airframes WB601 and VH-RNJ plus other parts purchased by Aerostructures Pty Ltd,
Hangar 120 Bankstown Airport, Sydney NSW
66
VH-RNJ's airframe rebuilt and modified by Aerostructures as the prototype Aerostructures Sundowner,
powered by a Lycoming O-360 engine.
7.67
Rolled at Bankstown
25.8.67
DCA issued test flying permit for two months using allocated registration VH-CXZ
8.67
Test flown Bankstown
67
Further modifications carried out by Aerostructures, including wing-tip fuel tanks. Test flown with empty and full fuel tanks.
68
DCA advised Aerostructures Pty Ltd that it was unable to issue type certification for the Sundowner.
It is believed primary reasons were design and stress analysis calculations which had not been completed by Aerostructures' project aeronautical engineer before his death in a Sydney boating accident in 1967.
2.1.68
VH-CXZ completed with wing tanks and painted VH-CXZ "John Roulston Aviation Carnarvon WA" was parked in Aerostructures hangar while the company unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a compromise with DCA.
70-72
Parked outside at Bankstown
28.6.72
Bill of Sale to John Milton Pty Ltd, Bankstown Airport NSW.  Milton was an aircraft dealer.
.72
Acquired by Dean Whitaker, Double Bay, Sydney
He owned airworthy Chipmunk VH-GCE and the damaged SA-29 Spraymaster VH-GEB.
.72
Whitaker sold his three Chipmunks to George Doug Warren, Big Spring Texas

Shipped to USA
26.10.72
Registered N8DW G. Doug Warren, Big Spring Texas

Doug Warren registered the three Australian aircraft as DHC-1 Chipmunk Mk.22:
N7DW  ex VH-GEB
N8DW  ex VH-CXZ   
N13DW ex VH-GCE
2.8.73
FAA inspection report: Total airframe time 1,005 hrs, Lycoming IO-360-A1A
8.8.73
US CofA issued in Experimental Exhibition Category
8.3.74
Bill of Sale to Joe D. Boyd, Lubbock Texas
26.3.76
Bill of Sale to Joe W. Moore, Pecos Texas
20.5.77
Bill of Sale to Charles V. P. Ballo, Chattanooga Tennessee
21.11.77
Bill of Sale to Wayne L Guess, Negley Ohio
22.11.77
Damaged in forced landing at Walls, Missouri (repaired)
10.11.78
Bill of Sale to Spinks Industries Inc, Fort Worth Texas
22.7.80
Bill of Sale to George D Warren, R and D Aircraft Inc, Big Spring Texas
2.5.88
Bill of Sale to Jerry S. Mills, Monroe North Carolina
16.8.95
Bill of Sale to Waldron A. Schanz, Merritt Island Florida
15.11.95
CofA renewed for new engine installation: Lycoming IO-540-C1C5
9.2.06
Bill of Sale to Douglas K. Sampson, Franklin Virginia
5.13
Advertised for sale: hangared at Martinsville VA, total time 1600 hrs, 475 hrs since 1992 rebuild
2.2.15
Bill of Sale to Tensas Flying Service Inc, St Joseph Louisiana

Current
 

VH-CXZ nearing completion in July 1967 at Bankstown.                                  Photo by Dave Eyre


The Sundowner with wingtip fuel tanks, Bankstown March 1968.                   Photo by Mike Croker


Project abandoned and left out in the open at Bankstown April 1971.                  Photo by David Carter


Unmoved at Bankstown June 1972, just before it was packed and shipped to USA.    Photo by Geoff Goodall


             Aerostructures Sundowner No.2                                                                          VH-RJK

Aerostructures Pty Ltd was commissioned by the Sydney owner of airworthy DHC.1 Chipmunk VH-RJK c/n C1-0070 to modify it to partial Sundowner configuration with Lycoming O-360 engine, retaining its original two-seat cockpit structure and without wing-tip tanks.

Built in 1950 by De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd at Hawarden, Chester to RAF order.
Fuselage number PAC f6 from a batch of fuselages sub-contracted to Percival Aircraft Co.
3.5.50     Delivered to RAF as Chipmunk T.Mk.10 WB629.
3.5.50     RFS Fairoaks
15.6.51   RFS Redhill
11.11.53 No.20 Maintenance Unit, Ashton Down. To non-effective stock 17.8.55
11.9.56   Sold to W.S.Shackleton Ltd, London
Dismantled at Ashton Down by Helliwells Ltd acting for W.S.Shacklton, for shipping to Australia.
19.9.57   Registered as Chipmunk T.Mk.10 VH-RVT: Royal Victorian Aero Club, Moorabbin Vic
17.1.64   Sold and reregistered VH-RJK: K.J.Peterson, Proserpine Qld
2.5.67     L.E.McDonnell, Sydney
6.7.67
VH-RJK noted at Bankstown
.67
Dr. Lal McDonnell commissioned Aerostructures Pty Ltd at Bankstown Airport to modify his Chipmunk VH-RJK to install a Lycoming O-360 engine and certain Sundowner design features.
At that time Aerostructures was challenging DCA's refusal to approve the first complete Sundowner VH-CXZ so McDonnell's Chipmunk was a more conservative modification, without wing-tip tanks and retaining its original two-seat cockpit.
3.68
VH-RJK noted in Aerostructures hangar Bankstown, conversion almost completed. Painted white with gold trim with "Sundowner" on forward fuselage sides
9.5.68
VH-RJK noted at Bankstown, parked in hangar. Also 8.8.68, 1.11.68
3.11.68
visited airshow West Maitland NSW, operating on a DCA Permit to Fly pending formal issue of CofA
12.68
DCA issued CofA under new aircraft type designation DHC.1/A1
19.12.68
VH-RJK DHC.1 Chipmunk T.Mk.10 cancelled from the Australian Civil Aircraft Register
20.12.68
Registered as DHC.1/A1 VH-RJK: L. E. McDonnell, Sydney NSW
6.4.69
visited airshow Shepparton Vic
17.1.70
visited airshow Warrnambool Vic, flew a display in Lycoming Chipmunk demonstration team with VH-RSQ and VH-RVY
19.4.70
visited airshow Orbost Vic, operated by Aerial Promotions Pty Ltd, flew a display with Lycoming Chipmunk VH-RSQ
19.9.70
noted at Bankstown
1.2.71
Change of ownership: Judith W. & J.K.Best, Warwick Qld
28.12.71
noted at Waikerie SA
17.5.73
noted at Toowoomba Qld
6.8.74
noted at Warwick Qld
12.74
sold to Kevin Cruikshank/ Gliding Club of Western Australia, Cunderdin WA.
12.74
Doctor Judith Best wrote in AOPA Magazine that she sold RJK to purchase a PA-30 Twin Comanche.
She had an under belly auxiliary fuel tank installed and instrumentation for night flying to allow regular long trips to NSW, Victoria and Waikerie SA  "RJK taught us an awful lot about flying and never gave us a moment of trouble or one fright."
12.74
Kevin Cruikshank departed Warwick Qld on delivery flight to WA
29.12.74
noted at Jandakot Airport, Perth, arrived from Queensland for engine maintenance
11.2.75
noted at Cunderdin WA in Gliding Club of WA hangar, also 4.5.75
13.2.75
Civil Register Change of ownership: Kevin Cruikshank, Perth WA
Based at Cunderdin WA operated by Gliding Club of WA as a glider tug
3.1.76
noted at Cunderdin WA towing gliders
21.5.76
noted at Kellerberrin WA with under-belly auxiliary fuel tank, at maintenance hangar, also 25.7.76
30.5.79
noted at Cunderdin WA
12.10.80
Damaged, accident at Cunderdin WA
26.8.84
Damaged, accident at Cunderdin WA
12.7.87
Damaged, accident at Cunderdin WA

Withdrawn from service Cunderdin WA
7.10
noted at Cunderdin parked outside, stripped airframe without tailplane or outer wing sections, part-way through a rebuild. Lycoming cowlings in place but no engine fitted/
13
stored in a shed on farm of new owner Jim Paynter, Quairading WA


VH-RVT on the Royal Victorian Aero Club line at Moorabbin in 1962.           Geoff Goodall collection


Now Sundowner VH-RJK, Bankstown September 1968 with "Sundowner" painted on forward fuselage sides.
Photo by Geoff Goodall


VH-RJK at an airshow at Warrnambool Vic January 1970, flying in a 3 Chipmunk aerobatic display team.
Photo by Nigel Daw


Cunderdin WA January 1976 as a glider tug.                                                     Photo by Nigel Daw


VH-RJK at Kellerberrin WA May 1976 showing an underbelly auxiliary fuel tank.     Photo by Geoff Goodall


VH-RJK at Cunderdin July 2010, stripped for a rebuild that apparently has yet to be completed.
The Neptune
VH-NEP behind was retired here after Perth company Aerocorp converted it to an air tanker
but failed to gain any Government fire bombing contracts or support.             Photo by Brenden
Scott

Aerostructures after the Chipmunks
        No other Chipmunk rebuilds were carried out by Aerostructures Pty Ltd, although in all probability the company was involved with the installation designs for several other Chipmunks re-engined with Lycoming or Continental engines. Certainly their anti-spin strakes were fitted to other Chipmunks. During 1972 Aerostructures moved from Hangar 120 at Bankstown to a newly built hangar at Canberra Airport, where the business was renamed Aerosmith Pty Ltd, still under C.W. (Bill) Smith.
        Included in the move to Canberra by road was one of Aerostructures' better known projects, the Turbine Mustang. CAC Mustang A68-187 was being re-engined with a Rolls Royce Dart turbine engine for owner Hockey Treloar.  The job was completed at Canberra and ground run with the turboprop, however it was not flown.
Refer: http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/mustangs-civil/austcivilmustangs.html

The sleek lines of CAC Mustang A68-187 rebuilt by Aerostructures and Aerosmith with RR Dart turboprop.
Seen outside the company's hangar at Canberra Airport in April 1974.          Photo by John Hopton

References:
- Australian Civil Aircraft Register, Department of Civil Aviation and its successors
- British Civil Aircraft Register: g-info website
- US Civil Aircraft Register
- US Civil Aircraft News No.02, DHC-1 listing, Midland Counties Publications 1977
- Made in Australia, Australian Air Log, July 1966
- Bad Luck Comes in Threes, Australian Air Log, September 1966
- More on The Spraymaster, Australian Air Log, January 1967
- Antipodean Chipmunks, Geoff Goodall, Aviation Historical Society of Australia Journal, April-June 1978
- Chipmunk The First 50 Years, M.D.N.Fisher, R.W.Brown, T.Rothermel, Air Britain Publications 1996
- DHC-1 Chipmunk, Hugh Shields, Rod Brown, Jose Goncalves, Rod Blievers, SBGB Publishing 2009
- The E.P.9 Story, Mike Sasin, Hesperian Press, 2014


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