I visited the RAF Museum Hendon again this year for the first time in 9 years to see what progress has been made on their aircraft collection.
One aspect of the collection which has always appealed to me has been the exhibits that served in Australia with the RAAF, including a Supermarine Walrus/Seagull, Lockheed Hudson and a DAP/Bristol Beaufort.
The RAFM has acquired these ex- Australian aircraft from a variety of sources over a long period of time and two of the three are displayed in their Australian RAAF/ RAN markings.
Supermarine Seagull V A2-4/VH-ALB is a real survivor and has an extensive well documented history of Australian Military and Civilian service.
One of 24 Supermarine type 236 Seagull V aircraft ordered for the Royal Australian Navy to specification 6/34. Built at Vickers Supermarine, Woolston, Order No.0.1.416. Serials A2-1 to A2-24 was fitted with a 775hp Bristol Pegasus engine. This aircraft served onboard most of the famous Australian capital ships of WW11 including the Perth, Sydney, Canberra and Australia as well as having an eventful career including being sunk at least once and damaged by gun blasts whilst on board RAN warships several times.
Postwar the aircraft operated with numerous civil operators and was the last flying Walrus when it was grounded in 1970. An excellent history of the aircraft prepared by the RAF Museum can be found on this link at the RAF Museum Hendon website.
Another historic WW11 aircraft is Lockheed Hudson A16-199, which served with the RAAF operationally with 13 and 2 Sqns from 1942 until 1945. It passed through a succession of civil owners until eventually being flown to the Strathallen Collection in Scotland in 1970 by the famous Lionel M.Van Praag. Again an excellent history of this aircraft, one of the most historic WW11 Australian aircraft surviving can be found via this link to the RAF Museum website.
Lastly, a particularly rare bird is the DAP Beaufort assembled from parts of several DAP built Beauforts recovered in 1974 from the Tadji airstrip in PNG. This montage restoration is obviously a collection of operational and “experienced” RAAF Beaufort assemblies and the RAF Museum has attempted to sort out and identify the aircraft components. Although assembled from Mk.VIII components the aircraft has had rudder profile and other changes including undercarriage doors to make it externally represent Mk.IIA aircraft DD931, delivered to the RAF 14 Jun 42, and issued to No.42 Squadron, whose colors it now wears. An excellent publication on the aircraft is can be found here.
It should be noted that this aircraft is still fairly incomplete internally, unlike the Walrus and Hudson which are far more detailed internally.
It is heartening to see such a large and significant RAAF presence at Hendon, coupled with a great effort to preserve their Australian origins. Although it is somewhat regrettable these aircraft didn’t remain in Australian collections, at least they are preserved properly in one of the world’s great collections and as such are possibly just as significant as if they were on display in Australia. Thankfully examples of each type still remain here in Australia.
There are other Australian connections throughout Hendon, however these three aircraft are the most graphic reminders of our contribution to the Aerial War effort of WW11. They are indeed a great memorial.
© John Parker 2014