DAP Beaufighter IFF Mk.III

While trying to figure out if Camden Museum of Aviation’s Beaufighter should have the IFF system fitted, we were lucky to have actually located a photo of the aircraft while in active service. This is in the AWM collection: A8-186

Balikpapan, 22 Squadron

Balikpapan, 22 Squadron

While conducting research on this matter, I requested a couple of digital copies from the NAA. These are now available and make interesting reading…

Radar – Introduction of IFF Mk III Eqmt in SWPA

IFF Mk III Interrogation and Response Units

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End of the Line

In August 2013 production of aircraft components at the old Hawker de Havilland Bankstown factory ended after 70 years. The first Mosquito came of the production line in mid 1943. Boeing Aerostructures Australia’s NSW facility was on the way to its closure in December of that year.

Ironically, the very last aircraft activity of any sort in B-Hangar, where the Mosquito final assembly line had been located, was the disassembly of Vampire T.22, XA167.

131 0946 XA167 sml

The original hangars (A, B and C) that made up the De Havilland Aircraft factory were built in 1942. Widely published are photographs of the Mosquito line at Bankstown, where the back of B Hangar (also ‘Building 12’) almost disappears in the distance. With an area in excess of 12000sq m, this is the largest of the buildings on the site. The hangar went on to house final assembly lines for the Vampire, Drover and Blackhawk. Recent news is that the hangar is being totally re-clad (to remove the asbestos) and divided into four. There has not been a tenant since Boeing Aerostructures Australia moved out of the hangar at the end of last year.

B Hangar

The Australian company De Havilland Aircraft was renamed Hawker de Havilland in 1962, as result of the rationalisation of the British Industry, and the company’s parent being Hawker Siddeley Group. After a couple of other changes of ownership (BTR and then Tenix), Boeing bought the company around the end of 2000. The next name change didn’t come until 2009 – to Boeing Aerostructures Australia. Production of aircraft components by the company continues in Fishermens Bend.

By chance, XA167 (painted as A79-642) was positioned by crane for disassembly at the very location of the original local Vampire production line. By chance, I say, as the location was chosen to suit the schedule for the remediation of the interior of the hangar.

(T.22 XA167 was in fact built in the UK. In its current incarnation it contains many components from Bankstown-built aircraft; details provided on the Vampires page.)

Syd Beck’s Military Museum – Sea Venom WZ904/N4-904

A DH-diversion of note at Syd’s museum is the Sea Venom FAW.53 N4-904. This aircraft was used for Ikara missile trials/testing. A couple of items of special equipment can be seen on the aircraft, including the mounting bracket for an Ikara fin that can be seen indicated in the photo below. I understand that the aim was to investigate vibration of the fin by filming it during flight, a camera being fitted in the Venom’s gun bay. The gun bay door was fitted with a transparency. The little piece of documentation I have found so far is a couple of pages in AP 4360C for Mod (RAN) 58, relating to attaching the fin to the port boom. The text mentions that Mod (RAN) 61 applies to fitting the fin to the starboard boom. It would be interesting to know more about these trials if anyone has more information.

 On the subject of Ikara trials, there is interesting information on the Adastra website.

Syd Beck’s Military Museum – Vampire A79-89

In October this year I visited Syd Beck’s Military Museum at Mareeba (50+ km from Cairns), Queensland. Apart from a great assortment of aircraft, military vehicles, engines, and artefacts from WWII, the collection includes Bankstown-built Vampire F.30, A79-89.

A79-89, c/n 4025, was built as an F.30, and being amongst the first 29 aircraft built at Bankstown, remained in the Mk.30 configuration into retirement. Having been received by the RAAF on 4th May, 1951, the aircraft served with 78 Wing, 2 OTU (for at least 3 periods over its 6 active years) , and ARDU. In early November 1955, the aircraft experienced a belly landing at Williamtown, NSW, after a flat tyre prevented the starboard gear from lowering. In the first half of 1956, the aircraft was fitted with an ejection seat at DHA, Bankstown. Like the other F.30 Vampires, A79-89 was retired from active service in 1957, and was received at Tocumwal, NSW, in September of that year. In August 1960, ’89 was received at the RSTT at Wagga, NSW, and allocated the Vampire instructional airframe number ’11’.

Syd told me how he purchased the aircraft from a scrap yard in Brisbane. The yard owners were going to assemble the aircraft and locate the aircraft as a prominent promotion for the business. The fuselage had always been stored inside, but the wings were stored outside. Since then, Syd has assembled the aircraft and always kept it under cover. The aircraft is generally in good condition, but is missing many small components, such as the pitot tube and its mount.

In the background of the photograph, you can see some of the structure of the igloo hangar. This WWII hangar was originally in Townsville where Syd and his family used to be located. He brought it up to Mareeba and has extensively refurbished the structure guaranteeing its future for at least a few more decades.

The Mystery of the Missing Generator

The configuration of the auxiliary gearbox that I have typically seen on FB.31s – in tech pubs and historical photographs (no opportunity yet to see any in the flesh) – includes mounting of the generator. Early and later configurations are shown below in extracts from AAP.828:

Above: Early configuration with vacuum pump. Generator is shown.

Below: Later configuration with vacuum pump deleted. Generator is shown.

Below: Other configuration with vacuum pump. Generator is not in the usual position; instead a bracket with pressure relief valve is attached at the location. The wreckage shown is from Vampire Mk.31 A79-536 which crashed at Pearce on 18th September, 1955.

Vampire F.30 A79-14 at the Camden Museum of Aviation has a similar gearbox that is partially installed – the gearbox has the bracket with pressure relief valve, and no sign of any generator!

So, what I want to know is:- WHERE IS THE GENERATOR on aircraft of this mod status?!

A New Dawn… and the Vampire F.30/FB.31 Fuel Gauge Panel

Well this is it. I have entered the ethereal world of blogging. Pleasingly, there is a real world behind it, and I am going to start by looking at an aspect of the Vampire F.30 and FB.31 cockpit – the fuel gauge panel. The single-seat Vampire instrument panels are largely standard parts across various marks, the fuel gauge panel being a good example. As such, the same panel was used in the early single-seaters and the late-service configuration. In the former, the panel carried five fuel gauges and the clock. In the latter, the panel carried just the five fuel gauges; the basic panel assembly is the same, so for the late configuration the clock hole was empty. (The clock was moved to where the film footage counter for the G.45 gun camera used to be.)

The basic panel was made from Tufnol and had two aluminium reinforcing angles riveted to the vertical edges. The panel also carried descriptive placards and wiring junction boxes.

The five fuel gauges are as follows (indicator values in gallons):

Description     Range/Capacity     Stores ID                        Smiths ID        Panel Location

Port Outer       0 – 57/65               G6A/1969 or /2588          1352FG          Lower Left

Port Inner      0 – 47/52               G6A/2039 or /2587          1351FG          Upper Left

Main               0 – 80/96               G6A/3661 or /2580          1350FG          Top Centre

Stbd Inner     0 – 47/52               G6A/2039 or /2587          1351FG          Upper Right

Stbd Outer      0 – 57/65               G6A/1969 or /2588          1352FG          Lower Right

4 Jan 2013: fix: gauges were wrong way round for inbd and outbd.