It is not known if these aircraft were given manufacturer's serial numbers. Furthermore, it will be noted that none of the gliders depicted on this page carry any discernible identifying markings.
Photographed on display at the Chewing Gum Field Museum at Tallebudgera, Qld.
Acquired by Gary Volkers from the Bowral area of NSW.
Inspected on Gary Volker's Grafton property by QAM members who were collecting Sabre parts.
Gary Volkers confirmed his acceptance of a swap arrangement whereby QAM acquired the towed target plus Gannet XA331 and Gary Volkers acquired Airtourer VH-CPE.
Victa Airtourer VH-CPE was trucked to Grafton on this date and an exchange agreement was signed the same day. (Subsequently VH-CPE was reacquired by QAM on 26JUL97)
The towed target was delivered to Caloundra.
This Towed Target Glider was produced by International Model Aircraft which was founded in 1931 by its parent company Triang which was established by Lines Bros of Merton in the UK. Triang were well known for producing toy cars and trains. IMA were better known as the manufacturers of FROG (Flies Right Off the Ground) model aircraft.
The Towed Target Glider was designed to fulfil a joint RAF/RN requirement for a realistic full size target for air-to-air and ground-to-air gunnery training. The glider was 26 feet long with a 32 feet wingspan and a fixed tricycle undercarriage with much of the structure being made from light gauge steel sheet. The glider was rigged so that the target operator in the towing aircraft could impart a nose-up attitude for take-off and a nose-down attitude for landing. Another mechanism would release the tow cable and turn the nosewheel so that the glider would vacate the runway after landing. Production began circa 1942 and continued until after the war. In February 1944 the company claimed to be producing an average of 39 sets of wings per week. In all 3,500 were built. Gliders built during the war featured wings of partial wooden construction whereas the post-war version, known as the Mark 2, had metal wings of the same 32 foot span. A subsequent version with reduced wingspan was generally known as the "25 ft Target Glider". The glider is known to have been towed by Miles Martinet, Beaufighter Mk 10 and Meteor Mk 7 target tugs. It is believed that these gliders remained in service until approximately 1955. The gliders used in Australia were operated solely by Royal Navy units post-war. Apparently, surviving gliders were left behind in Australia when the RN units returned to the UK.
(This account is based on an article appearing in the Merton Historical Society Bulletin No. 163 of September 2007 with thanks to the author David Haunton)
QAM thanks Charles Birch of British Columbia, Canada for the following (September 2004) account of his unhappy experiences with the Towed Target Glider:
"I believe that the monstrosity hanging from the ceiling of QAM is a piece of equipment I had the misfortune to come up against while serving the 723 Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm (a Fleet Requirement Unit) based in Nowra, NSW. On 9th July 1945, I was detailed to do a target tow for HMS Argonaut - anti-aircraft fire with Bofors/Oerlikon. This was my first experience with the glider and after taxying a short distance down the runway, the glider was positioned about 50 yards behind us and we were hitched up. To the best of my knowledge this was the first time it had been tried. Take-off proved to be quite a challenge because of the extra drag which was considerable. I was yet to get airborne with the end of the runway approaching rapidly so I cut the throttle and abandoned the run - much to the relief of the air-gunner, P.O. Clark, in the back. We taxied back and tried again. This time we clawed our way into the air with the air-speed hovering close to the stall. The glider finally became un-stuck but then began to swing violently according to my startled gunner, so I told him to cut it free. (The incident is recorded in Charles' log book as '32ft wingspan glider broke away'). The whole trip lasted a mere 15 minutes from take-off to landing and I have not the slightest recollection of where the glider hit the ground - hopefully within the airfield boundary but could have been in the surrounding bush. Right then I vowed I would never tow the thing again. We went on to complete our tow for Argonaut using the conventional sleeve drogue - a flight lasting 1 hr 15 mins. I honestly don't know if any other pilot on the squadron tried it but I don't think so and the "thing" disappeared!!"
Charles' log confirms that the target tug in this instance was Miles Martinet RG956.
UPDATE September 2014:
by Cris George who was at the time of the following events, Commander (Air) in the RAN.
"Some years ago we located the wreck of what appeared to be a towed aircraft of some sort. It was an unfamiliar type but we eventually identified it. I believe it probably was the one that was unsuccessfully towed by Charles Birch in his account (see above). The wreck had been spotted from the air by a HC 723 aircraft in the course of a confined area sortie during about 1990/91. The Observer had spotted the wreck while looking straight down from the aircraft. (It had been a dry year so there was not as much concealing foliage as usual perhaps). Shortly after its discovery, the wreck was located approximately 200 metres to the north of the western end of Nowras Runway 08/26 outside the airfield boundary and in the bush. I recall the skin of what was left of the fuselage and wings of the wreck looked like thin sheet steel (because of the rust) although the empennage appeared to be skinned with alloy. The main spar looked as if was tubular steel as did the wing ribs. The target had suffered severe impact consistent with Charles Birch's account. I unsuccessfully tried locating it again in 1999 and rightly or wrongly assumed that it had been buried with the work associated with the Aviation Park. I subsequently established that Charles Birch passed away on 6th November 2011, apparently unaware of the discovery of the wreckage."
UPDATE April 2020:
QAM thanks Kim Dunstan for this contribution:
I remember there were two of these target gliders at HMAS Albatross circa 1958/9 which were towed by one of the 723 Squadron Fairey Fireflies for gunnery practice for RAN ships off Jervis Bay. The Fireflies seemed capable of getting airborne towing the gliders but landing them was a bit hazardous as when the Firefly reduced speed over the runway the glider would become a little unruly and buck and sway before being cut loose, on one occasion I saw one doing a cartwheel after a heavy landing. As I recall it they were not used after 1959 and were stowed in one of the hangars for a time. In 1962 they were superseded by the Northrop Radio-plane KD2R5 which could be launched from ships at sea for gunnery shoots with recovery by parachute.