DAP Beaufort A9-141

DAP Beaufort A9-557

The Australian War Memorial DAP Beaufort A9-557

Our volunteers restoring A9-141 have been involved in the restoration of the AWM DAP Beaufort A9-557

There has been one other major restoration of a DAP Beaufort in Australia, Beaufort A9-557. A Mark VIII aircraft, she was restored to a static display condition for the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra, and for a time this aircraft could be seen on the Museum floor. Volunteers from the Beaufort Restoration Group were involved in the restoration which was completed in 2003. Beaufort A9-557 is currently in storage at the Treloar Technology Centre, the Australian War Memorial’s storage and workshop facility at Canberra.

History of DAP Beaufort A9-557

  • 4 January 1944: Aircraft received at 1AD (Laverton, Victoria). From there, it went to 5AD (Cootamundra, NSW) and 15ARD (Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea).
  • 8 July 1944 to 23 January 1945: The aircraft was with 100Sqn, RAAF - at Tadji, New Guinea.
  • 103 Operational Missions were completed - including missions to bomb troop concentrations, hostile villages, Wewak strip, bivouacs and personnel areas, bridges, anti-Submarine patrols and searches for missing aircraft.
  • Overall 146 hours and 26 minutes of flying time was logged - with 146,000 pounds of bombs dropped during those missions.
  • A9-557 was flown by 19 different crews on its 103 missions, including Flt Lt HJ (Jack) Fowler (34 missions), Flt Off S (Stan) Polkinghome (29 missions) and Flt Off McNaughton (13 missions).
  • 20 January 1945: On its return from a bombing missions over Elimi, New Guinea, A9-557 crashed on landing at Tadji (Pilot: Flt Lt Fowler). The aircraft was badly damaged but there were no crew casualties.
  • Fowler and his crew were killed on 13 March 1945 - while flying in A9-650, a faulty bomb exploded during a strike in the vicinity of the village of Milak, New Guinea.
  • 23 January 1945: A9-557 was alloted to 12RSU Tadji (ex 100Sqn). Approval was given for its conversion to spare parts.
  • 1974: A9-557 is found - together with other RAAF Beauforts - at Tadji, and exported via Lae to Victoria by Mr Ian Whitney.
  • 1991: The aircraft was acquired by Mr Robert Greinert and transported to Sydney. Subsequently acquired (in 1992) by the Australian War Memorial as part of an exchange agreement, it was road-transported to the Memorial's store at Mitchell in the Australian Captial Territory.

Parts from a number of Beauforts have been recovered for use in the Restoration of A9-141. These have been found in varying locations and States, not only in Australia, but in places as far afield as Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the United States of America.

About the Restoration

From an Article written by John White, Senior Curator of Military Technology, Australian War Memorial

In 1992 the Memorial acquired the substantial remains of Beaufort A9-557, together with several thousand parts. Although the major sections had deteriorated after nearly 30 years in the open at Tadji in Papua New Guinea, there was surprisingly little corrosion, and large areas of paintwork were capable of preservation, especially on the fuselage. Steel sub assemblies were in much worse shape, and many smaller items were missing entirely.

No intact Beauforts remained, and only a few dozen of the aircraft's drawings had survived. However, between the parts acquired and other items found both in Australia and overseas, enough pieces were brought together to make the assembly of a complete aircraft possible. Given the great historical significance of the Beaufort and its rarity, the Memorial gave approval for the project to proceed. Hardware came from dusty sheds and the back rooms of long established aviation companies. Radio and electrical equipment turned up in disposal stores, the collections of radio enthusiasts and even recycling depots. Veterans and their families brought in pieces souvenired at the end of the Second World War, and also lent dozens of irreplaceable photographs and original overhaul manuals.

By 1997 there was enough material to start on the huge jigsaw puzzle. The original stern section, a spare forward fuselage, and pieces of the wing arrived from America. Volunteers began to sort out and treat small parts, while planning for the major tasks began. Fortunately, two private enthusiasts also had a strong interest in the Beaufort. Robert Greinert's group in Sydney and Ralph Cusack's group in Brisbane provided much assistance in understanding how the aircraft went together. In 1998 the wing centre section the largest and most critical component went to Sydney for reconstruction. In 2001 further parts of the wing and fuselage followed, while the rear fuselage was trucked to Brisbane in 2002.

Damaged propellers were acquired in Papua New Guinea, and repaired by another Brisbane company. Other parts found at Tadji in 2001 were in such good shape that they were re used after minor treatment.

Meanwhile the Memorial assembled a team of six skilled technicians in Canberra, accommodated in a specially built workshop. They began many months of repairing and assembling small parts. Detailed work on the wing centre section allowed the engine nacelles and undercarriage to be fitted, while many missing fairings and cover panels were made from scratch.

By November 2002 all the major pieces were back in Canberra. As they were re assembled, original equipment and repaired parts were added, and many hours were spent ensuring that everything fitted together properly. Conservation and curatorial staff worked to preserve large areas of original paintwork and record the details of other faded markings and camouflage for later application. With the main structural repairs, repainting, and assembly complete, the aircraft was moved to ANZAC Hall in March 2003 the first intact Beaufort to be seen in Australia for nearly 40 years.

The Unveiling of DAP Beaufort A9-557

On Friday March 28, 2003 - at 10am - the Australian War Memorial's DAP Beaufort bomber was rolled out. In attendance were the following dignitaries:

  • Minister for Veteran's Affairs, the Hon. Donna Vale, MP.
  • Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshall AG Houston, AO AFC.
  • Air Commodore K Parsons, CBE DSO DFC AFC (Ret'd) President RAAF Beaufort Squadrons Association of Australia, Squadron Leader K Bonython AC DFC AF (Ret'd)
  • Senior RAAF Chaplain, Air Commodore R Thompson
  • Mr D Fowler
  • Mr R Whitwell
  • Chairman, Australian War Memorial Council, Major General A Clunies-Ross, AO MBE (Ret'd)
  • Director of the Australian War Memorial, Major General S Glover

The DAP Beaufort is currently in storage at the Treloar Technology Centre, the Australian War Memorial’s storage and workshop facility. The DAP Beaufort, Mark VIII RAAF Serial Number A9-557 “QH-L” is one of the aircraft being considered in the forward conservation program. That decision will hopefully be confirmed this year. The aircraft is complete, but the restoration will be finished to approximate its state in service at the time of its last flight on 20 January 1945, when it crashed on landing at Tadji, New Guinea whilst serving with RAAF 100 Sqn. It had flown an impressive 103 operational missions.

Photographs of DAP Beaufort A9-557

Photographs of the the restoration and of the roll-out event at the AWM
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