CAC CA-16 WIRRAWAY Mk III A20-652 / VH-WIR C/N 1104
The Wirraway was acquired with a grant from The John Villiers Trust.
The exhibit is dedicated to the memory of John Villiers (1912 – 2002)

Images Gallery

Received at No 1 Aircraft Depot, Laverton ex CAC Fisherman's Bend as A20-652. (Source: 4)

Allocated 1AD Pilot Test Training Flight, Laverton. (Source: 4)

In service at 1AD PTTF. (Source: 4)

Slight damage in a taxy accident at Laverton Vic when pilot, W/O W H Bleach collided with a grader. The damage was repaired by 1AD. (Source: 4)

Allocated to storage at 1AD. (Source: 4)

Received at 1AD Store. (Source: 4)

Allotted Category C Storage status. (Source: 4)

Received Det B 1AD Tocumwal ex 1AD Storage Laverton. (Source: 4)

Received at Department of Aircraft Production, Parafield, SA ex Det B 1AD Tocumwal. (Source: 4)

Received Det B 1AD Tocumwal ex DAP Parafield. (Source: 4)

Request for approval to dispose. (Source: 4)

Approval granted to dispose. (Source: 4)

Sold to Horsham Foundry. (Source: 4)

Resold to Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. (Source: 4)

A20-652 was included in a batch of 41 Wirraways purchased by the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation from the Department of Supply on this date. These aircraft had been sold to Horsham Foundry and Engineering Co Ltd but they were not collected from Tocumwal by the stipulated date. In total, CAC acquired 61 Wirraways for £750 each to support Ceres production but in the event only 20 Ceres were produced. A20-652 was one of the majority of Wirraways that were not converted. (Source: 10)

Delivered to CAC at Essendon Airfield. (Source: 4)

"In the late 1950s, former Luftwaffe pilot Fred Meuller relocated to Australia and established a petrol station at 447 Pascoe Vale Road, Pascoe Vale. He soon acquired an ex-RAAF Wirraway from Tocumwal for the grand sum of 350. He mounted the Wirraway outside his petrol station. When the construction of the Tullamarine Freeway forced the closure of his petrol station, Fred relocated to Gilbert Road, Reservoir. The Wirraway went along too and was soon a local icon in the area. In 1983 Fred sold the Wirraway for $13,000 and it was removed to Essendon for reconstruction by Charlie Smith." Note that there are several inconsistencies in this account which is quoted verbatim. (Source: 11)

Sold to Peter Frearson of the Fleet Wings Service Station at Laverton, Vic. Stored dismantled behind the garage.
(Source: 1)

Photographed under assembly in the backyard of Frearson's Garage at Laverton. (Source: 5)

Moved by road from Laverton to the Melbourne suburb of Pascoe Vale. (Source: 1)

Photographed on display in an elevated position at a service station in Gaffney Street, Pascoe Vale. (Source: 5)

Displayed at a garage at Reservoir, Vic. (Source: 1)

Sold to Dusty Lane, Geoff Milne and Vin Thomas of Albury, NSW. (Source: 1)

Weighed by Aero Weigh Pty Ltd - 1921.50 Kg (nil fuel & nil oil) (Source: 6)

Registered VH-WIR (#2) to Vincent H. Thomas, Albury NSW. The registration VH-WIR had been reserved in August 1974 for another Wirraway (A20-649) but the registration was not taken up and the aircraft was sold in 1988 to Kermit Weeks of Tamiami, Florida, USA prior to the completion of its restoration. (Source: 1)

Australian Aircraft Log Book No. 1 for VH-WIR opened at zero hours:

Aircraft removed from open storage and completely stripped for restoration to flying condition.DoA letter V131-19-146 dated 22 June 1984 refers. Extracts of worksheets and certification documents summarized viz:

XRay inspections of rear fuselage, tailplane and stabilizer attach points, fwd fuselage attach points carried out at Ansett Airlines NDT Section . Mag particle inspection of tailplane fwd and rear attach points, vert stab fwd and rear attach points, engine mounts, wing to fuselage attach points, MLG attach fittings and eddy current to MLG attach fittings. All carried out at Ansett Airlines NDT Section. Fuselage frame weld repairs to tailplane attach tubes 7/8, vertical stab rear spreader angle and longeron finger doubler carried out by WV63. Fuselage formers 1-5 and 7 replaced. All surface corrosion treated with chromic acid and Iridite 1000. Port and stbd wing lower spar caps repaired to o/h manual fig 24, ribs and leading edge ribs repaired and replaced as necessary and detailed in worksheets. Wing skins replaced similarly. Aileron bellcranks removed, cleaned, crack detected, repainted and reinstalled. Interior of both wings reprotected with Boeshield. Exterior surfaces etch primed and reprotected. Centre section stripped, spar caps repaired to Repair Manual Part II Fig 25 & 33A. Ribs repaired or replaced to Fig 12. Flap hinges replaced. Centre section reprotected and repainted. Fuselage reassembled and all control surfaces recovered with Ceconite Process. All electrical wiring replaced. All switches renewed. Instrument panel assembled using all overhauled instruments. Fuel system - tanks removed and completely overhauled. All new hoses fitted. Following modifications incorporated during reassembly:

- To Reg 40 data approved by Gisbourne Aeronautics.
- Baggage compartment installed.
- Smoke system installed.
- Hydraulic system converted to Mineral Oil.
- Elevator and rudder trim cables re-routed.
- Allowable damage to tube 25 at tail wheel fork strut mount defined.

Engine: Pratt & Whitney R1340-S3H1G s/n 14877 fitted.
Propeller: Hamilton Standard 3D40-227 constant speed s/n 54363 fitted.
Radio: King KX160 Nav/Com installed.
Aircraft weighed by A. Searle AV70.

The engine was first installed in an aircraft on 08OCT45. Prior to being fitted to VH-WIR, the engine was fitted to a DHC-3 Otter and overhauled by Shorts Air Services Pty Ltd on 06DEC73. When fitted to VH-WIR the engine had a total time of 600:50 hours with overhaul due every 1000 hours. For fitment to a Wirraway, the engine required internal modification to convert it from hydromatic propeller to constant speed propeller. (Source: 6)

Footnote: In 1961 the Australian Government acquired two DHC-3 Otters for use at the Weapons Research Establishment at Woomera. These aircraft were assembled at Bankstown and fitted with engines left over from Wirraway production. In 1967 the operation of the two Otters was taken over by Shorts Air Services. Both aircraft were exported to Canada in 1980. (Source: 7)

First flight after restoration at Essendon, Vic. (Source: 1)

Periodic inspection by Airepair. (TT: 76:00) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Professional Light Aircraft Services. (TT:90:30) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Airepair. (TT:113:00) (Source: 6)

Inspection 250hr/5 yr by Scone Aircraft Maintenance. (TT:139:00) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Arcas Airways Pty Ltd. (TT:176:86 sic) (Source: 6)

Weighed by Aero Weigh Pty Ltd - 1958.73 Kg (nil fuel & full oil) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Arcas Airways Pty Ltd. (TT:206:01) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Professional Light Aircraft Services. Fatigue inspection and minor fabric rejuvenation repairs. (TT:235:00) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Professional Light Aircraft Services. (TT:258:15) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Professional Light Aircraft Services. (TT:278:00) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Professional Light Aircraft Services. Refabric elevators and rudder with Stits Polyester. Rub down tops of wings and repaint silver. (TT:308:15) (Source: 6)

An export permit was issued by the Australian Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts under the Protection of Movable Cultural Heritage Act 1986. (Source: 3)

Periodic inspection by Hazair Pty Ltd. Left wing removed and sent to Old Aeroplane Company for corrosion repairs. Right wing also removed but no corrosion present. (TT:309:00) (Source: 6)

Certificate of Airworthiness MEL 00148/03 (Limited Category) issued. (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Hazair Pty Ltd. (TT:309:07) (Source: 6)

Sold on eBay to Peter Smythe of Adelaide. (Source: 2)

After a much-publicised legal dispute arising out of the sale on eBay, ownership of the aircraft was awarded to Peter Smythe of Adelaide in the New South Wales Supreme Court. (Source: 2)

Periodic inspection by Hazair Pty Ltd at Albury, NSW. Fabric side panels replaced by Encore Aviation. (TT:313:04) (Source: 6)

Departed Albury for Parafield with a fuel stop at Swan Hill, arriving Parafield late in the day. (Source: 8)

When Peter Smythe took possession of the aircraft it had no markings except for the wings. The fuselage was still in grey primer. In preparation for the aeroplane's imminent public debut at the Classic Jets Fly-In it was decided to paint the aircraft with roundels which were more appropriate for WWII. Up until this time the aircraft had worn kangaroo roundels. (Source: 9)

The aircraft made its first public appearance after arriving in South Australia when it participated in the Classic Jets Fighter Museum Fly-In at Parafield. (Source: 8)

Periodic inspection by Hazair Pty Ltd. (TT:327:00) (Source: 6)

Periodic inspection by Gulfstream Aviation Pty Ltd. (TT:332:07) (Source: 6)

QAM signed a contract to purchase the aircraft with a grant from The John Villiers Trust.

Annual inspection and Maintenance Release by Golden Age Aviation at Parafield. (TT:334:30) (Source: 6)

Payment was made to Peter and Catharine Smythe and change of ownership reported to CASA. Aircraft was test flown (1 hr) by Matthew Denning.

Registration Holder and Registered Operator changed to Queensland Air Museum Inc. (Source: 6)

Departed Parafield for Mildura flown by Matthew and Simone Denning (1hr 40min). The aircraft was to continue on to Temora but unfavourable weather forced an overnight stop at Mildura.

Departed Mildura for Temora but diverted to Griffith because of unfavourable weather to the north and east (1hr 30min). Aircraft hangared at Griffith until weather and pilot availability will permit resumption of the delivery flight.

Departed Griffith for Narromine and Toowoomba but diverted to Moree and night-stopped because of weather (3hr). Flown by Matt Denning and John Gallagher.

Departed Moree for Toowoomba (1hr 30min).

Arrived Caloundra from Toowoomba (1hr).

A welcoming ceremony was held at Caloundra after which the aircraft departed for Caboolture where it engaged in aerial photography before returning to Caloundra (1hr). The aircraft was crewed by Matt and Simone Denning. Total Time: 344hr 10min.

The aircraft was moved from Caloundra Airport across Pathfinder Drive to QAM where it was placed on display in Hangar 2. Although the aircraft will not be flown, it will be maintained in airworthy condition in accordance with a maintenance schedule which calls for the engine to be run and the hydraulics cycled at regular intervals. Because of these requirements, the Wirraway will not be included in QAM's annual Open Cockpit Weekend.

The aircraft had its first regular engine run.

The aircraft was formally dedicated to the memory of John Villiers in a ceremony at the Museum.



Warbirds Directory 2008 by Geoff Goodall.


Peter Smythe v Vincent Thomas [2007] NSWSC 844


RAAF Form E/E 88 via Gordon Birkett.


John Hopton Esq.


Log Book VH-WIR.



South Australian Air Journal Vol 37 No 1 p.16


Peter Smythe.


Derek Buckmaster, Ceres Australia's Heavyweight Crop-Duster, 2017.

Compiled by Ron Cuskelly
To view this page as it was designed please click HERE


Added an alternative view of this aeroplane’s use as a petrol station attraction postwar. See Source: 11.

Issue: 19

DATE: 27 FEB 19

Added further details of CAC’s purchase of the aircraft on 25MAR60. Also added an image of the aircraft stored pending conversion to Ceres. Thanks to Derek Buckmaster.

Issue: 18

DATE: 27 OCT 17

Added a recent image of the aircraft undergoing regular maintenance.

Issue: 17

DATE: 22 MAY 17

Added two recent images. Image 1 Image 2

Issue: 16

DATE: 25 OCT 16

Added a recent image

Issue: 15

DATE: 18 OCT 16

Added details of the dedication ceremony.

Issue: 14

DATE: 02 APR 11

Added an image of the first regular engine run.

Issue: 13

DATE: 22 MAR 11

Added sector times for delivery flight.

Issue: 12

DATE: 16 JAN 11

Added date of transfer of registration to QAM.

Issue: 11

DATE: 14 JAN 11

Aircraft placed on display at QAM.

Issue: 10

DATE: 27 DEC 10

Elaborated on the DHC-3 Otter engine connection.

Issue: 9

DATE: 22 DEC 10

History updated from aircraft log books.

Issue: 8

DATE: 20 DEC 10

Aircraft has arrived at Caloundra.

Issue: 7

DATE: 13 DEC 10

Added details of delivery flight to date.

Issue: 6

DATE: 02 DEC 10

Added date of purchase.

Issue: 5

DATE: 26 NOV 10

Added five new images thanks to Andrei Bezmylov, Martin Eadie, Rob Fox and Phil Vabre.

Issue: 4

DATE: 25 NOV 10

Added three new images thanks to Geoff Goodall and Phil Hosking.

Issue: 3

DATE: 24 NOV 10

Added an acknowledgement to The John Villiers Trust.

Issue: 2

DATE: 19 NOV 10

Original issue.

Issue: 1

DATE: 25 OCT 10

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