February, 2018 News
At long last some good news! Melbourne Water is preparing to dismantle Hangar 1 saving all those parts which are still usable. It will then be re-erected using old and new materials, next to Hangar 2 as the display hangar in the precinct. Keep your eyes open in September: you may see action! There will be enough land to allow us to tow A72-176 out of H1, turn her around then run (if possible) the engines. The meeting on 16th January where this was discussed was well attended and positive. We had 4 from B-24, 3 from Melbourne Water, 2 from National Trust, 1 from Wyndham City Council, 2 from Treasury and our Patron Carl Schiller. Apologies were received from Andrew Elsbury and the representative for Tim Pallas. We were all impressed by the desire on the part of all representatives to bring this matter to a conclusion.
Treasurer B-24 Liberator Memorial Australia
Murray Spowart has retired from the position. He stepped in at a difficult time and has been very effective in getting us back on track. Thank you Murray for all your efforts….much appreciated.
Gary Singline has now been appointed ex-officio Treasurer. He lives locally and is keen to become part of the team. Welcome Gary.
Gary on left, Murray on right
This will be held Saturday 21st April in the Restoration Hangar. Lunch will be 2 courses: a barbeque sausage/hamburger & salads main plus dessert. Drinks (red and white wine, beer and soft) will be supplied. Cost will be $20 head payable on the day. Bookings are essential. Please phone the hangar Tuesdays, Thursdays or Sundays on (03)97311263 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve a place.
As the number of veterans is falling, we open this event to family members of those who served in Liberators and people with a genuine interest in the Liberator and our restoration.
This year the 18th August marks the 30th Anniversary of the meeting in Wagga Wagga where the B-24 Liberator Restoration was first set up. We think that warrants a party. Details are still being finalised: but keep the date free to come visit and see what has been accomplished to date.
A72-176 Update (John Morrissy)
Fuselage Saddle and Fairing installation complete: wing installation currently being adjusted to fit.
Armament Waist gun positions complete Rear turret: plexiglass canopy panels for the turret are fitted and matched to the lower side panels; existing fairings are being modified to fit the canopy. Front turret: work progressing on display turret. Bomb release system: Almost complete. We’re still searching for the bomb release quadrant. Bomb hoist installation: front bay pulley brackets are installed: interior skin areas have been checked/cleaned/treated for corrosion: bolts connecting bomb racks to the wings have been replaced.
Rear bay hoist beam: mounting brackets on fuselage frames are in place, bomb hoist beam installed.
Power plant: Work proceeding on the engine cowl fabrication for 3 & 4. Installed nacelle assemblies on 1 & 2 are sagging so work has to be done to correct this.
Electrical: conduit assemblies & cable looms for the engines are now being made up. We aim to have the installation completed this year. Flight control surfaces: currently fitting pulleys & modifying brackets for the flap control cabling along rear wing spar. The hydraulic cylinder actuator & support brackets are modified & installed.
Hydraulics: work on hydraulic piping proceeding on bomb bay & wing mountings for flap, undercarriage & brake piping based on Ford drawings.
Wing: removal of corrosion from internal surfaces of the wing underside skin is underway by both blasting areas difficult to access & manually cleaning flat surfaces. This is being followed by deoxidine and alodine treatments to stabilize any residual corrosion. Eventually the areas will be given a clear lacquer finish.
Piping in rear fuselage.
Contact has been made with people from Bacchus Marsh Gliding Club. They have been to the hangar to look at the ailerons to assess the possibility of covering them with fabric. They have decided it can be done so work will start soon.
Cheetah engine looking good.
Fenton RAAF Airfield
(Lat. 13°37’ 23.46”, Long. 131°20’19.60”)
Thanks to Terry Burke
Named after the legendary Territorian Flt. Lt. Clyde ‘Doc’ Fenton, this airfield was one of the main bomber bases further south of Darwin than the fighter strips along the Stuart Highway. Together with Long airfield only a few kilometres away, it was home to various Allied squadrons during WW2, including the USAAF’s 43rd Bombardment Group B-17s, 319th Bombardment Squadron’s B-24s, 380th Bombardment Group’s B-24s, and finally the RAAF’s 21, 23 and 24 Squadron’s B-24 Liberators. Between June and September 1943, at least seven Japanese raids were carried out on the base, with resultant casualties and damage to aircraft and facilities; some aircraft wreckage remains there today. A B-24 Liberator fuselage tail section stands sentinel at the turnoff to the aircraft graveyard. Tangled wreckage includes congealed molten aluminium remnants, twisted engine mounting frames and many bent aluminium panels, all being steadily covered by the native bush. It’s a sobering reminder of the heyday of these aircraft, when we consider how far they had come. 1944. The RAAF’s No 1 PRU suffered its first ‘in action’ casualty when one of the USAAF 380th Group B-24s, operating from Fenton, was lost over Babo with experienced No 1 PRU crewman Corporal Darcy Sharland killed in action. This is another significant historical site which is worthy of preservation. Footnote: A couple of websites mention that access to Fenton is open to the public; this is no longer the case. Since the airfield and surrounds were recently sold off by Tipperary Station, access is only available to approved visitors through the new management.
Terry Burke, President Mosquito Aircraft Association of Australia
Position of Fenton
WW2 Liberators on strip at Fenton
13th February 1945: B-24 Liberator found survivors from “Peter Sylvester”
On this day, RAAF Liberator A72-156 from No 25 Squadron located two rafts and a lifeboat containing survivors from the US Liberty ship, Peter Sylvester, torpedoed a week earlier by the German U-boat U862 more than a thousand kilometres south-west of Fremantle, WA. After the first discovery of survivors disclosed the ship’s fate on 9 February, two Liberators from No 25 Squadron joined the search two days later and one briefly sighted two rafts before losing them again in bad weather. When the search resumed on 13 February, A72-156 was able to relocate the rafts and dropped supplies to them before directing USS Corpus Christi to the scene. While 93 survivors were picked up, several lifeboats remained unaccounted for. Further RAAF participation in the search effort was cancelled, however, after a fuel-laden Liberator (A72-124) crashed on take-off from Cunderdin, WA, on 14 February and five crew were killed.
A beautiful thing:
Gears from the Norden bombsight.
The income from visitors, donations and shop purchases, is a large part of our cash flow. In 2017 we had 2943 visitors: 2831 from Australia, 112 from overseas. The majority of Australian visitors come from Victoria. 2017 was an Avalon Air Show year so visitor numbers are lower than anticipated which is a concern. Graham Collis, a Committee member, has put a huge effort into attracting more visitors. He makes contact with car clubs, inviting them to make the hangar the focus of a club run and this has paid off. This year he will make the same effort directed towards motor cycle clubs. We also attract support groups, Probus clubs, community groups as well as the individuals who see us on Face Book, etc. Our largest visitor groups are clubs, return visitors and people responding to the sign at the front of the hangar.
Car Clubs 2017: Vintage Club, Bay City Classics, Citroen, Wolsely, Aston Martin, Mild to Wild (Tocumwal), Thunderbird, Toyota MR2 Buick & Oldsmobile, Dandenong Valley Historic Cars, Maserati, Fiat Bellarine Historic Vehicles and 57 Car Club.
Support Groups: Werribee Women, Geelong Special Needs, Alzheimer’s, Geelong Gateway, Williamstown Men, Mambourin, Percy Bates Lodge Geelong, CEC Wyndham, McKillop Family Services.
Probus: Pt Arlington, Sanctuary Lakes, Cardinia, Torquay.
Other Groups: Monarch Motor Cycles, Bellarine Retirement Village, Air Cadets, HARS, Collings Foundation (USA), RAAFA, Macedon Ranges Amateur, Golden Plains Shire Group, Rathmines Catalina, Caboolture Air Museum. We are a member of the Tourism Geelong & Bellarine group and this has been worthwhile in view of the large number of groups from that area. So, if you belong to a group looking for an interesting day out please spread the word about the hangar as a destination.
On our web page we have a contact point for people wanting answers to all things Liberator. This is a very popular service which is generally provided by Dave Miller. We get all sorts of queries ranging from ” I’ve found some melted metal at a crash site. What could it be?”
“We’re a museum restoring a rear turret. Do you have any specifications or pictures?”
“We want to create a display of the navigator’s position in a Liberator but have no references. Can you help?”
Dave has a lovely time searching for answers which he almost always finds. At the moment he is busy finding pictures and information about the navigator’s position: not too hard a task as we have just finished installing the one in A72-176.
Queries come in from all over the world: USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, and Netherlands to name a few.
A72-176 Navigator’s position