A selection of my photographs of the larger aircraft types which appeared on the Australian warbird scene during the 1980s

This 1945 wartime production North American B-25J Mitchell N8196H made its debut at the April 1984 Mangalore Vic airshow.
 It was a bold import by the Aero Heritage syndicate, who had been inspecting available B-25s in USA for several years.
N8196H spent ten years in USAF service, becoming a TB-25J before military disposal as a civilian fire bomber in Alaska
Esso sponsorship for the delivery flight was applied over the US Navy paintwork applied by its previous American owner

After preparation at Stockton, California, the B-25 was flown to Australia under the command of syndicate member
Captain Bruce Andrews of Ansett Airlines, reaching Australia on 20 December 1983

Aero Heritage came to an arrangement with the Australian War Memorial for the AWM to take over ownership of the B-25,
which would be flown by Aero Heritage in RAAF markings for three years, prior to eventual museum display at Canberra. 
Here it is in February 1985 at Ballarat Vic, now registered VH-XXV and painted as RAAF No.2 Squadron "A47-31 KO-P"

Captain Bruce Andrews fires up the B-25's Wright R-2600 Twin Cyclone engines at Ballarat in February 1985.
Unfortunately this superb example of Australian WWII heritage fell victim to AWM politics.  When its flying period ended in
November 1987, it was stored out of sight before new AWM management deemed it "unrepresentative"and sold it back to USA

The B-25's cockpit

Malcolm Long collection Lockheed Hudson VH-FXF at Wangaratta Vic in April 1986, flown by TAA Captain Alan Searle.
This former Adastra Aerial Surveys aircraft was restored to its wartime bomber guise as RAAF A16-105 FX-F

VH-FXF is now a static display with the Australian War Memorial in Canberra

The impressive sight of the RAAF Museum's Lockheed PV-1 Ventura VH-SFF arriving at RAAF Point Cook on 13 July 1988.
It was the culmination of a three year restoration in California and an eventful delivery flight across the Pacific

I photographed the same Ventura ten year earlier, at Fort Lauderdale Florida. Then it was sitting on a retired aircraft ramp,
faded and peeling
paintwork, large oil stains on the ground under the P&W R-2800s. The scrap man was hovering.
It had fallen on hard times after being an executive aircraft in the 1950s, later a cropduster, then a freighter in Mexico

The same Ventura on arrival at Point Cook July 1988. N159U had been saved by Jim Ricketts of Aero Nostalgia Inc at Stockton,
California, restored and painted in RAAF No.13 Squadron wartime markings as A59-67 SF-F with name Wiff Oh

Champagne to celebrate the successful conclusion of a complex exchange deal involving retired RAAF Canberras in return for the
airworthy Ventura.  Facing the camera second from left is pilot Rob Poynton, the other volunteer Australian pilot Graham Syphers
was out of frame. On right is Sydney warbird tragic Peter Anderson who made the whole deal happen over five years then
crewed the ferry flight, managing fuel transfers between extra tanks in the cabin, which can be seen through the open door.

The Ventura at RAAF Richmond in October 1988 with the dorsal gun turret re-installed. This restored turret had been removed
for the Pacific delivery flight when airflow buffeting problems were experienced during flight tests in California

VH-SFF was badly damaged in a forced landing at Richmond in November 1996. After an unexplained total power loss
in the circuit area, the crew made a belly landing outside the airfield boundary. The big Lockheed has been held dismantled
in a RAAF Museum storage hangar ever since, waiting for the time when funds will allow its repair for museum display

This former RAAF Lockheed P2V-7/SP-2H Neptune A89-273 was retired at Townsville with stripped interior and sold to a
scrap metal merchant. In 1978 it was saved at the last minute by a local syndicate headed by Peter Rundle and Randal MacFarlane.
The restoration project seemed impossibly ambitious at the time, but on 9 May 1981 it flew again, as a civil aircraft VH-IOY.
Here the Neptune makes a low pass at Mangalore Vic in April 1983

This view at home base Townsville in November 1983 emphasises the Neptune's size. The auxiliary jets were not operational.
The mighty 3,700hp Wright R-3350 Turbo Compound engines also powered the Super Constellation airliners

Owner and chief pilot Peter Rundle in VH-IOY's cockpit

Going flying in the Neptune required borrowing an airline GPU, a minimum crew of 2 pilots and 2 endorsed flight engineers
good credit with the airport refueller: the 18 cyclinder radials were run for 25 minutes of systems checks before taxying.
On travel flights a total of 14 could be carried by manning the rows of anti-submarine AEO consoles.

Taxying at Cairns in March 1984. For this display along the town Esplanade, Peter Rundle and crew dropped dummy depth charges,
smoke flares, a life raft and two rescue paramedics into the water. After climbing, 7 more parachutists jumped from the aircraft.
During the annual Townsville night SkyShows, the Neptune lit up Castle Hill with its high powered searchlight. Glory days.

Retired Royal Australian Navy Grumman S-2G N12-152333 was registered VH-NVX in 1985 when restored to airworthy
by volunteers of the Fleet Air Arm Historic Flight. Seen at Mangalore Vic April 1985 with folded wings

VH-NVX at Ballarat Vic in February 1987. The Historic Flight was later to be grounded by RAN bureaucracy

Sydney Airport April 1981, photo by Chris O'Neill:  PBY-5A Catalina N68756 owned by Mike Wansey of Newcastle NSW,
a Colonel in the Confederate Air Force in Texas. After basing his Cat at CAF HQ for two years, Mike and his crew flew it across
the Pacific for an Australian visit, highlight being a water landing at the wartime RAAF Catalina base Rathmines on Lake Macquarie.
The PBY-5A, painted in RAAF markings as "A24-387"named Sea Bitch, returned to Texas later that year

Mike Wansey's former US Navy PBY-5A Catalina two years earlier at Confederate Air Force HQ, then at Harlingen Texas.
It then wore the attractive civil paint scheme of its previous US owners.

View from the rear right blister as Colonel Mike Wansey's Catalina N68756 made a torpedo run in front of the crowd line at a
Confederate Air Force airshow at Harlingen in October 1979.  Note the B-17s, B-24 and B-25 at the runway holding point

Michael Wansey founded the Confederate Air Force Australian Wing in the early 1980s.
He acquired this long-retired RAN Fairey Firefly AS.6 WD828 from the Moorabbin Air Museum, and its restoration by
CAF Australian Wing engineer Trevor Fuller was completed at Ballarat in September 1984 as VH-HMW named Mickey's Mouse.
Here American CAF pilot Ed Vassar fires up the Rolls Royce Griffon engine at Ballarat in February 1985

Ballarat February 1985. Firefly VH-HMW heads a row of Mustangs

Another airworthy Firefly was earlier model AS.5 WD826, flying as VH-NVU with the Fleet Air Arm Historic Flight at Nowra.
It had been an instructional airframe before a lengthy restoration by volunteers at Nowra, flying again in 1986, accurately
painted in the
markings of Australian Fireflies operating from aircraft carrier HMAS Sydney during the Korean War.
Unfortunately the Historic Flight's aircraft were later to be grounded by the politics of the modern rotary-only Navy

In January 1982 four derelict Iraqi Air Force Hawker Fury fighters were shipped to Australia by Guido Zuccoli and Rob Poynton.
They had been stored in a Florida warehouse with 25 other Furies abandoned in the Iraq desert which were salvaged in 1979 by
an American warbird dealer. Guido had three rebuilt in his Darwin workshop for resale and Rob restored the fourth in WA.
Bruce Andrews of Melbourne purchased Fury FB.10 VH-HFX, seen at Wangaratta Vic March 1986

Bruce Andrews gets airborne in VH-HFX at Wangaratta, March 1986

Hawker Fury FB.10 VH-HFA Magnificent Obsession owned by Ted Allen, Mackay Qld visited Ballarat in February 1985

Guido Zuccoli taxies in his Fury FB.11 VH-HFG at Ballarat Vic February 1987

Rob Poynton's Fury FB.10 VH-ISS under restoration on his farm at Toodyay WA January 1983

Rob Poynton with his Fury, painted in Iraq Air Force camouflage with its Iraqi serial 249

The first North American T-28 Trojan on the Australian warbird scene was this former US Navy T-28B VH-NAW.
It was imported from USA in February 1988 by warbird enthusiast Judy Pay at Tyabb Vic.

During 1988 Col Pay and Noel Vinson joined forces to recover 16 abandoned Lao Air Force T-28s from a military base in Laos.
They were moved overland to Bangkok and shipped to Australia and USA for resale as warbird restoration projects
Here's AT-28D Lao 3410 just out of its crate at Essendon in January 1989, purchased by Jack McDonald. It became VH-CIA

Former RAAF Australian-built DH Vampire T.35 two-seater trainer A79-649 was the first Australian jet warbird.
It completed its restoration at Bankstown for owner Jeremy Flynn in September 1986 when it was registered VH-ICP.
It is seen at Ballarat Vic in February 1987


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